Howdy! Sometime in 1992, a video was circulated apparently among Spanish-speaking press promoting the games available for the Sega Genesis a.k.a. MegaDrive. In this tape is contained a video sequence showing a far-from-finished version of Ecco the Dolphin I, back when the project was still known simply as ‘Dolphin’. We’ll be exploring this video here and comparing it against the final US release of the game.
2.18 MByte AVI File
Initial Video Analysis
The video begins approximately here– note the caption of ‘DOLPHIN’; the prototype name of Ecco the Dolphin earlier in the development of the project. This image shows Ecco jumping through the air with what appear to be final or near-final sprites, with islands in the backdrop consistent with the final version.
Ecco jumps through the air and breaks the surface. Note that the angle of the camera appears to be slightly shifted upward at this point, causing the splash at the surface to be more visible than it would otherwise be in the final version. The purple appearance of some of the underwater area appears to be due to video artifacting; as similar effects are seen in magazine screenshots. It is also possible that the color palette was somewhat different at this point.
Ecco swims beneath the surface, and we see this purple shell that appears to be hovering static in the water. This shell is very similar, if not identical, to the one seen sucked up during the Storm as the Vortex feed on Earth, and also embedded in the wall in Home Bay. This object has not been found suspended in such a manner anywhere in a final version of the game.
Ecco here uses his sonar, which looks consistent with the final version. The school of fish to the left, all of the silver variety, seem consistent as well to how they are drawn in the final.
Diving deeper, you see a Glyph to the left of Ecco, which does not appear to line up with any known level layout in the final game. To the right is a different variety of fish, indicating more than one had been drawn and implemented at this point.
Here, Ecco nears the water surface at what is apparently the right side of the level. This appears to match up with some level of accuracy to the final version of ‘Home Bay’.
Before the Storm is invoked in Ecco I’s Home Bay, the exit is blocked by two roundish stones separated by a short distance vertically. Here, we see two objects placed similarly– except, the sprite is instead two of the conical shells used later in the game to destroy barriers.