The fate of the universe is in your hands, proclaims the latest DS RPG available from Disney Interactive. The plot line might sound like you’ve already been down that path a hundred times before, but the gameplay in Spectrobes won’t. Get the stylus ready for Spectrobes.
Spectrobes follows a young lad named Rallen as he learns to harness the power of Spectrobes. Now you’re probably thinking, what is a Spectrobe? Spectrobes are little beings that you can unlock and collect like your typical Pokémon game. Spectobes also incorporates the popular trading card phase with custom parts and unlockables can also be granted by inputting codes from back of Spectrobes cards. This is the real deal, or at least Disney wants it to be. One more contender trying to match the success of Pokémon with gaming and trading cards. If Spectrobes doesn’t catch on it’s not for a lack of trying. Disney has been releasing animated shorts online, but something tells me this isn’t the second coming on Mickey. Spectrobes in principle has a good foundation; the catch is if it’s good enough to latch on to the younger generation.
In the start of your adventure in Spectrobes you play as young Rallen, the dumb hero wandering into the story and not realizing his true potential. Rallen is partnered up with Jeena, the logical female aspect of the story. The main story follows these two as the go on exploring the galaxy and taking on the evil forces that threaten peace. The enemy this time around is the evil Krawl, not to be confused with Krull from 1983s, Sci-Fi movie. The Krawl don’t mess around as the cruise the galaxy destroying planets, and it’s unfortunate for them that you have just learnt you have the power to stop them by harnessing the Spectrobe race, the one entity that can remove the Krawl from existence.
This leads Rallen and crew on a mission to revive and find as many fossilized Spectrobes as possible and head up against the Krawl. It’s not as simple as finding these little creatures, besides finding them, you have to awaken them and then train them to take on the evilness. Surprisingly, Spectrobes is a lot deeper than I expected with a round-a-bout experience that you’ll either love or hate. If you’re a gamer who loves the evolution process of “growing” things then Spectrobes just got a little more exciting. The idea of a monster rancher styled Spectrobes added to this RPG is enough to make a good game, but in the end the Spectrobes get dry and don’t have enough personality to match up with the games they are trying to emulate. I would take my friendly yellow Pikachu over, the snarled red faced Specrobe any day.
Spectrobes almost makes it as a solid role-playing experience, but it falls into a few trappings that keep it locked down in hibernation. For starters Spectrobes the dialog between the characters is so predictable it becomes stale and boring. The plot line also falls into a trite affair that isn’t helped by the pages of text conversations. It’s like they wanted to throw away any interest gamers had in the story. If you stick around long enough to get rolling you’ll be getting into the game, and then the game mechanics start to grow old and become a lot more tedious and monotonous then it should be.
Walking through Specrobes feels as alive as a corpse. The barren environments and dull graphical presentation gets rather boring quickly. Being creative Jupiter Corp tried to mixes things up with the display on both of the DS screens, but I never felt like it was a whole picture. I mainly fixated on the lower screen because everything was a under whelming and not worth the effort of looking around. This directly ties in with the gameplay which is equally as dull. I never felt a groove in the navigation, or the combat system that takes up the majority of the game. As time went on I wanted to give it up, but for the process of this review I continued on.
In the combat Jupiter tried to be over innovative which ended up falling in a ditch. The mechanics of battles has you warped into a small area using the stylus and buttons to fight the enemy along with your Spectrobes. The battles never became interesting and it looks like a bunch of characters running around playing touch tag. Since the Spectrobes and combat is a big part of the game, this area really needed a lot of attention and I believe this missed the mark during the process of trying to do more then necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I love games that take risks, and Spectrobes definitely did that with this unique combat system, but in the end it doesn’t work as good as other more “traditional” systems.
I’m sure some gamers might be on the flip side of this review and love the combat and other aspects of Spectrobes that I didn’t get. If so then you can get a little more out of your game then the main story. In Spectrobes you can go head to head against a friend, or trade Spectrobes between your two Nintendo DS cartridges. The aspect of collecting and trading between friends is one of the best aspects of Spectrobes, it definitely prolongs the value of the game, and could keep you interested a little longer then expected.
I expected a lot out of Spectrobes after reading up about the game and seeing all the features and concepts it was going to offer up. Spectrobes intentions where ambitious and probably a little too wildly and aggressive which turned against the project. Spectrobes feels unbalanced and all garbled up into a mixed up mess of a game that tries to do too many things at once. The game never really settles and misses out in two main areas of RPGs that being the story and combat. I admire the attempt to go in a new direction, but it just didn’t work out this time.
Gameplay: 4.5, Graphics/Sound: 5, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 4. Final: 5 / 10