Glyphs are mysterious crystalline devices presumably created by the Atlanteans. They were originally made specifically for Ecco's use to help him combat the Vortex kind. They are spread throughout the ocean and perform various functions. Glyphs containing information can only be deciphered by singers, as the information is transmitted by sound bouncing off the Glyphs back at the singer.
In Ecco Junior some levels show carvings of glyphs in the background.
These Glyphs give Ecco clues and other kinds of messages. They can also temporarily grant Ecco new songs, such as the ability to smash rocks or move Barrier Glyphs. Sometimes Ecco will have to return multiple times to the same Key Glyph to remove another Barrier Glyph later in the level. Hints are often crpytic and obscure.
Barrier Glyphs block Ecco's passage by seemingly pushing him away with a forcefield. They can only be removed when Ecco is empowered by a Key Glyph in Ecco the Dolphin and Ecco: The Tides of Time. In Ecco Junior, the barrier glyphs block the exit to the level and will not be breakable until the level objective has been completed.
Coloured GlyphColoured Glyphs appear in the Aqua Maze of Ecco Junior. All must be broken to clear the level. They are also used to represent level progress at the summary screen.
Puzzle Glyphs are Glyphs that must be gathered in a single area, at which point they unify and grant Ecco a new power. This is seen in the Crystal Springs level.
Cracked Glyphs, within a time limit, can be temporarily cracked by Ecco triggering them remotely with another Glyph. Ecco can only move past these Glyphs when they are cracked open.
Broken Glyphs have to be pieced back together by Ecco by pushing the other half towards it with his sonar. When they are restored they will empower Ecco in some way.
Milestone Glyphs act as checkpoints in certain levels in Ecco: The Tides of Time. Ecco can activate them by singing to them. When they are active, they will enlongate. If the player dies, they can choose to restart the level from the activated Milestone Glyph. The Glyph must be re-activated by Ecco every time the player restarts from it!
Hungry Glyphs eat barriers and rocks to open paths for Ecco. To do this, they open, break in half, make a suction sound with objects flying in, and close. Like the powerup glyphs, the hungry glyphs only appear in Ecco: The Tides of Time.
This is the rarest kind of glyph. They grant Ecco invincibility for a short period. When Ecco sings to one with his sonar, his health and oxygen bars will temporarily dissapear. During this time Ecco does not require oxygen and will take no physical damage. However he can still be killed by crushing hazards such as ice cubes and boulders. When the powerup wears off Ecco's health and oxygen will be fully replenished. Returning to an Invincibility Glyph is a useful strategy for exploring new areas of levels in which these glyphs are present.