Since Endless Ocean first appeared on the Wii in 2008, virtual aquariums and fish-featuring games have been met with an almost unquenchable demand from Facebook users. With that as backdrop, it seems that Endless Ocean 2 could not have arrived at a better time.
The original's relaxed ocean exploration, fish collection, marine biology, and animal mythology make a return, this time spread over six different global locations including the Mediterranean, the Antarctic, the Amazon and the Middle East.
Graphics are improved, and there are a greater variety of tasks, mysteries, and animals to pursue. Undersea treasures can be bought and sold, and co-operative online play returns so that players can dive with friends as well as with friendly dolphins.
It's difficult to find an immediate touchstone for what is essentially a scuba simulator combined with a vacation. Though the video games market is not exactly overflowing with such things, there are the Aquanaut's Holiday series on PlayStations One, 2, and 3.
Endless Ocean 2's nature-loving laid-back approach also bears comparison to Flower, fl0w, Afrika (aka Hakuna Matata), and Eufloria, while its undersea searching is similar to the hidden objects in Amanita Design's Samorost and Machinarium games.
Japanese magazine Famitsu's four reviewers each gave Endless Ocean 2 a 9/10 when it was released there, so it seems that the game has something for both casual and experienced gamers alike.
Endless Ocean 2: Blue World / Adventures of the Deep (Wii)
Release: North America, February 22. Europe, was released February 5.
Price: €29.99 / $29.99
Read Endless Ocean 2's review summaries at Metacritic.com