Tuesday, 26 July 2016

EcoQuest - Seagull and Dolphin

Written by Reiko

Adam Greene Journal #1: "The other kids here are so boring! I just wanna play with the dolphin and help my dad. These poor animals get trashed and it's up to us to fix them up! I love feeding the dolphin and playing frisbee with him to make him feel better. But today he started acting a little weird, and then he started TALKING! So cool! He wants me to let him out of here so he can go search for King Cetus in order to save his city. Should I let him out?"

Why would I want to go outside if I can work with a dolphin?

So I'm diving into the world of EcoQuest with Adam Greene, a spunky ten-year-old who loves the ocean and working with sea animals with his dad. When I start up the game, Adam is hanging out with his dad in their lab at a temporary research center for the "Ecology Network". Dad suggests Adam go play volleyball with some other kids, but Adam just wants to stay and help in the lab. Amusingly enough, the book that Adam's reading at the beginning is described as the hintbook for EcoQuest, but once the game starts, "Adam doesn't have time to look at the hint book. (Rats!)"

Have to help the seagull first.

The ecological message is strong right from the beginning, as his dad has just rescued yet another seagull from an oil slick and asks Adam to help him clean up the poor bird. When I take a closer look at the box that dad is holding, Adam automatically walks over to it. I take the clean rag [2 points] and the detergent [2] from the bird's box and use the inventory to put detergent on the rag [5]. Then I can use the soapy rag to clean the bird up [5]. Now the bird will stay in the lab for awhile until his natural oils are restored and then he can be released.

Adam then gets a new experimental fertilizer solution from his dad [2], which is supposed to be useful for actually cleaning up oil spills. Then dad suggests Adam can work with the dolphin that a fisherman brought in after accidentally catching it in his net (Ecological message +1). But I have to make sure to check the instructions in the treatment room first. Okay, will do! Then dad wanders off to go to a meeting or something, and I have full control to look around the lab. There's a lot to look at in here.

We're going to need this later.

I start going around the room more or less in order clockwise from the top. The box with the bird is still sitting on the floor next to the table, but there's nothing else I can do with that at the moment. On the table is a hamster who seems to need water, but I don't have any at the moment. The blackboard shows a diagram of a sonar transmitter attached to a buoy [5]. Looks useful.

This is one talented kid.

A raincoat is hung up in one corner, but it's too big for me. There's a piece of a sea creature's skeleton in another corner. Then I notice there's mail sitting on the computer chair, so I open it. It's a certificate for Adam for his animal rescue course, so he's now an Apprentice Dolphin Handler [5]. And he's a member of the Worldwide Dolphin Society. Cool!

Where does he hide this thing, especially once it's full of random trash?

I check out the computer and find an article that dad's working on, which will incorporate that sonar transmitter diagram on the blackboard. Next to the computer desk there's a garbage bag designed for use underwater [10]. Clearly we're going to go swimming at some point, since Adam's only wearing swim trunks even though his dad was fully dressed.

There's also a recycling bin, and on the desk I find an empty soda can [2], which I toss into the bin [5]. (Ecological message +1) Later I remember the empty envelope from Adam's certification, which I also recycle [5]. The bookshelf over the desk contains five noteworthy books [1/book, 5 total], but nothing I can actually take or read. Now I have 58 out of 725 points already, and that's just the first room.

There's an exit in the bottom-left corner, but Adam would "rather stay here" because he doesn't know the kids playing volleyball outside. The door on the far wall is locked with a code. For some reason, the dark stripe on the bottom made the door look like an open doorway to a hallway with a keypad on the far wall, rather than just a closed door with a keypad. Fortunately, I don't need to know the code, because Adam knows it. I just click on the keypad and he opens the door [5]. The next room is the pool room with the dolphin, who apparently has "capture stress syndrome".

These instructions are pretty clear. Talk, feed, swim, play. Got it.

The pool is really interesting, because it has a narrow area on one side behind a gate that the animal can open and close itself by using a button. The purpose is apparently to allow the animal a "human-free" area so it can be by itself if it wants. There's a bucket of mackerel in the corner so I can feed the dolphin, and the blackboard contains the promised instructions [5], which are pretty simple. Talk to the dolphin, feed him if he's hungry, swim with him, and play with the frisbee with him. Sounds like fun!

He seems depressed and lonely, so I start talking to him until he relaxes [2/talk, 6 total]. Then he perks up and looks hungry, so I grab a mackerel [2] and toss it to him [2]. He doesn't catch it, but does flip it back into the air and gulp it down. He still looks hungry, so I grab another mackerel [2], wait until he's paying attention, and toss him that one too. I try tossing him a third one, but he tosses it right back into the bucket. He's got good aim!

This would be interesting information for kids learning about dolphins.

Now I can go swimming with him! I carefully enter the pool [5] and the dolphin seems really happy to play with me. Eventually he offers me a fin and I get to take a ride [5]. The dolphin is much more playful by this point, so I go get the frisbee [2]. I toss it to the dolphin four times [1/toss, 4 total] but on the fourth time, something strange happens. It sounds like the dolphin shouts, "I got it!"

The dolphin knows Adam's name...

Delphineus’ quest for Cetus

Then Adam and the dolphin, who calls himself Delphineus, have an entire conversation about how his King Cetus is missing, and he's got to get out of there and keep searching for him. I smell a fishy quest! The dolphin is anxious to get going and wants me to pull the lever to open the hatch to the sea so he can leave. Adam thinks his dad would be fine with that, but first I take another look around the room.

A kid can make the decision to free an animal being cared for by a research institution?

There's some equipment against the walls, like a net to clean the pool, and also an equipment cabinet. I open that and find a whole set of diving equipment, including a special aqualung. Well, that sounds useful, so I collect it [10]. Then when I pull the lever [10], Delphineus swims away.

How could you say no to that face?

Not that Adam’s actually allowed to do anything right away. That's the end of this section of the game, and I have a total of 118 points now. Next time we'll see Delphineus again and really get started on the quest.

Inventory: dolphin handler certificate, Dolphin Society card, fertilizer solution, frisbee, scuba gear, oxygen tanks, transmitter
Ecological messages: 3

Session Time: 0 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 0 hours 45 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. I do love the earnest 90s environmentalism. Are there any modern examples of games like this? I can't think of any, especially by developers of the stature that Sierra were in 1991.

    I also feel like that last picture (or rather the picture within the picture) should be a caption contest...

    1. Oooh, I can think of one! A New Beginning, which came out ~2010. About a group of time-travelers from a ecologically ruined future, returning to the past to set things right, before it's too late.

  2. Take a look at the title bar, notice anything funny about it?

    The game is "ECOQUEST 1". Is this the first game that assumed it would have a series behind it?

    Looking over some other games, Police Quest I did not. Space Quest I seems to have billed itself as "Chapter 1", but I'm not sure if that was in the original version.

    Anyone else want to take a stab at this?

    1. The box art doesn't specify that it is the first of two games. Perhaps this is a later version of the floppy release patched to maintain some sort of continuity with Ecoquest II?

    2. The roads of the game industry are littered with games including part 1 in their names, sometimes ending on cliffhangers, which never got sequels.

    3. SiN Episodes: Emergence, you broke my heart.

    4. I should have said first SIERRA game? All of the other "Quest" games (short of Space Quest, but that one may have been a later re-release) seem to have not had a "1" label at the time of release.

  3. I just can't stop thinking about the Simpson episode where the Dolphins take over Springfield. Dolphineus obviously prey on the social outcast child who must be new in town (since Adam doesn't know the kids around the neighbourhood) in order to ensure his release so that he can take over the world.

    (since I haven't watched the episode in several years, isn't that what happens? Lisa releases this one dolphin that takes over the town?)

    1. I'm with you on that one. And the fact that the Dolphins use a monarchy as their system of government has me concerned.

      Unless the Dolphin system is like the Naboo system, where the titles suggest monarchy but it's actually run more like a democracy.

  4. After having it a long time in my backlog, today I finished The Longest Journey. And it's overrated in my opinion - better than Tex Murphys and Grim Fandango but not as good as Gabriel Knights, YU-NO, Blackwell Epiphany, the Chzo mythos, Broken Sword 1 and Monkey Islands. The story was full of clichés and tedious exposition; half of the sentences felt unnecessary. Puzzles alternated between way too easy (due to almost always being constrained in a limited environment) and insufficiently telegraphed, but there were good ones too.

    Det var möjligt att installera vår kopia på svenska (och norska), och kanske jag kunde öva mitt svensk kunskap på det sätt (jag spelade Beneath a Steel Sky på svenska några år sedan), men jag hade redan installerat och spelat mycket av det på engelska. Spelet var urpsrungligen gjort på norsk men det är svårare att förstå.

    1. Tell me about it, jag studerade i USA en termin och umgicks med en norsk, vi föredrog engelska så blev det mindre missförstånd. Han var i och för sig från Bergen och vad jag förstår är det en av de värsta dialekterna i Norge.

      And for the international audience, I spent a semester in the US and spent some time with a Norwegian, speaking english since it was less misunderstandings that way. Then again, he was from Bergen (a town on the west coast of Norway?) that supposedly have one of the worst accents in Norway people told me.

      And if any Norwegians read that I do apologise, but that was what most people said when speaking about Norwegian accents.

    2. This is interesting, but rather off topic for this post.