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Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future and its prototypes

Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future is an action-adventure video game released in 2000 for Dreamcast and in 2002 for PlayStation 2. It is the first game in the Ecco the Dolphin series to be realized in 3D.

Hungarian studio Appaloosa Interactive, which to everyone's surprise was also working on the cancelled Smurfs game for Dreamcast and Playstation 2, has delivered a top-quality Ecco.

"With the exception of AM2, Appaloosa has really optimized its games for the Dreamcast."

The Ecco series, created by Ed Annunziata, are games that won't please everyone. Graphically, they are amazing. The sandbox feel can be a little discouraging.


The 3D universe offers new movement possibilities. Sonar, charge and acceleration are still present, with new combinations.


Ecco can roll to attack or dodge, brake hard, swim backwards or stand upright out of the water to observe his surroundings. Ecco also possesses temporary physical powers by obtaining crystals.

The story is divided into 4 chapters, with the fate of the planet changing each time depending on the advantages regained:

  • Island of Tranquility: the opening chapter, a world of peace and balance until the arrival of the Enemy

  • the Nightmare of Men: deprived of all their traits, the dolphins have been enslaved by mankind, which has exploited and polluted the Earth to the point of causing its own extinction. The dolphins continue to serve a vanished master in a devastated world

  • the Nightmare of the Dolphins: regaining their intelligence and ambition, the dolphins hunt mankind and reign as cruel masters of the seas. Operating in clans, they have no hesitation in enslaving the weakest among them

  • The Enemy's Domain: the final chapter, the Enemy has retained the trait of humility, the alliance was formed but was totally unaware of the danger and was defeated, Ecco must penetrate the mothership and destroy the heart of the Enemy.

The prototype "Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (Nov 23, 1999 prototype)".

This prototype version is the earliest known to date.

Before arriving at the title screen, 4 logo windows follow one another. Normally, there should only be 2. The Dreamcast logo and the simple Appaloosa logo are specific to this build. These four windows are unlike anything we've seen before.

The title screen is different from that seen in other known prototypes or in the final version. These design differences are perceptible in all the menus. There is no music once you reach this window.

By going to "option" and pressing X, the game will activate the "Cheats Enabled" cheats. All Ecco's songs and powers will be unlocked. Press Y to activate "Immortaity Enabled".

The "Load Game" menu lets you choose the level of your choice.

No cinematic was implemented at this stage of Ecco's development.

In game, the user interface is similar to that of the Megadrive (life and air indicators).

Ecco The Dolphin prototype Dreamcast Logo.jpg
Ecco the Dolphin Dreamcast prototype Select Level.jpg
Ecco Dreamcast prototype trunk.jpg

There is an Inventory menu accessible from the pause menu. It shows what the dolphin has learned so far. There is no way to modify it.

The game's sound effects are not yet complete, and many of them are missing or completely different in the final version.

SEGA Dreamcast Eccod the Dolphin prototype, GD-R (early build )

The Ecco 1 prototypes discovered in a Katana development kit

Dreamcast Dev Kit Appaloosa

Different Builds, all different, of Ecco 1. These betas are not functional, they launch but crash or freeze after a while. Fix them if possible:


  • Ecco the Dolphin Defender of the Future prototype number 1

  • Ecco the Dolphin Defender of the Future prototype number 2

  • Ecco the Dolphin Defender of the Future prototype number 3

  • Ecco the Dolphin Defender of the Future prototype number 4

One of these prototypes may have been repaired, but I can't find the ISO anymore.

Inside Appaloosa's Dreamcast development kit (downloadable from this page) were containers (.MAC files) of the textures we extracted. There are a number of files in these .MACs, not just textures but also models (GMDL), object definitions and a number of SH4s (they look like elves, including the strings from Kamui Darkness). There was also a Raptor dinosaur texture, but we don't recall seeing these anywhere. The Dev Kit also contained two prototypes of Ecco II: Sentinels of the Universe.

You can download the textures below:

Texture package for Ecco Dreamcast

Other Ecco 1 prototypes

DUCATI WORLD RACING CHALLENGE (Jan 29, 2001 prototype).jpg
Ecco the Dolphin Defender of the Future (Apr 22, 2000 Dreamcast Prototype).jpg

The Debug Menu was removed by Appaloosa on April 22, 2000, since a build dated April 21, 2000 had one, whereas the prototype dated April 22, 2000 no longer had one.

More than 200 prototypes, documents and press kits have been dumped or scanned and are available for free download in the "Prototype and document releases" section.

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