A lot of people will probably have heard of Ecco the Dolphin, the popular series of action-adventure games about a carefree pod of dolphins that gradually descends into a bizarre plot about extraterrestrial threats and ancient civilizations. But there was actually another psychedelic game about Dolphins that came out in the '90s, which we recently came across while looking through old magazines. And it's got some quirks of its own worth talking about.
Fluid (or Depth as it is known in Japan) is a game developed by Opus and published by Sony Interactive in 1998 in Europe. As far as we can tell, it was never released in North America, making it one of those bizarre exclusives that we got, that the Americans didn't. But what actually is it?
Well, it's essentially a music game divided into two parts. Players are able to explore a bunch of underwater locations as a dolphin, moving around, playing sounds, and manipulating the sample's pitch and length. Some of the locations you visit include nautical-themed levels like crystal caves, temple ruins, and coral reefs, as well as trippy areas like antennae farms and submerged forests.
Once you exit one of these levels for the first time, you'll unlock that stage's samples, which you can then use in a sound lab to create your own electronic tracks. And this is honestly where you'll spend most of your time. It's here that you can experiment, mixing drum loops from one stage with a set of synths from another. You can also speed up the BPM to produce something more hard-hitting, or add effects and slow it down to create something more ethereal.
If this seems at all familiar to you, despite never owning a copy, you may have come across it as a playable demo included with Issue 38 of the Official PlayStation Magazine.
It should be said, Fluid is very much a curio of the time it was made, coming at a point when the PlayStation was bringing the world of electronic music and gaming together.
Obviously, there were titles like WipEout with its memorable soundtrack by CoLD SToRAGE, but there were also cult music games too, like Baby Universe and Vib-Ribbon, where you could insert your own music to generate trippy visuals and brand-new stages. If you're like us and interested in the crossover between video games and music, it's one worth seeking out.
Did you ever play Fluid? What are some of your favorite PS1 hidden gems? Let us know in the comments!