So, is Disney's new hope going to catch on?
Jupiter Corp / Disney
Disney / BVG
A sci-fi setting and digging for ancient fossils? Interesting. Is Spectrobes a happy marriage of two very different themes, or a complete mismatch that will end up in a sour divorce?
I was sceptical when I was given this game to play. Disney isn't exactly a name paired with great gaming. Ok, fine - Kingdom Hearts is an exception, but they had Square Enix helping them! However, Spectrobes was made by the same development team that made Kingdome Hearts: Chain of Memories on GBA, so I thought they may be able to pull it off.
Confused about what I should be expecting, I decided to put my preconceptions aside and get stuck in, but I left feeling even more confused than before. While the rest of Kikizo may put that down to me being easily confused, I maintain that Spectrobes doesn't seem to know what to do with itself.
"You have to dig for fossils using the stylus, delicately drilling around them to make sure you don't cause any damage."
The story revolves around a guy called Rallen and a girl called Sheena who are sent off to investigate a planet. After wondering around aimlessly for a while, you stumble across a frozen professor who you take back to your ship and wake up. He then tells you of some nasty sounding monsters called the Krawl who destroyed his solar system, and that the only way to stop them was using monsters called Spectrobes, and surprise surprise, the same thing is starting to happen in this solar system. Obviously you're inclined to help, and your journey begins.
The Spectrobes themselves aren't exactly designed well, I have an angry egg on wheels and something that looks like a cross between a tiger and the letter "n". However, the way you get them is a lot more interesting. You have to dig for fossils using the stylus, delicately drilling around them to make sure you don't cause any damage.
Then after you get your fossil you have to take it back to the ship to bring it back to life. This involves sending it along a conveyor belt and then talking into the mic at the right pitch. It springs into life, but unfortunately it can't battle so you have to feed it minerals in the computer until it evolves. There are over 50 varieties of Spectrobes and they evolve into stronger and meaner looking monsters - *coughPokémoncough* - excuse me!
Finding the fossils, though, is a lot more annoying. You have to move using you D-pad and then poke the baby Spectrobe that follows you with the stylus to activate a sensor which shows if there are any fossils or minerals nearby. That's fine if you're right handed, although I can imagine it becoming a little frustrated if you're left handed. You also have to keep switching between stylus and buttons depending on what you're doing very regularly which is incredibly irritating. Although not as annoying as the battles.
The Krawl tend to travel around in a rather fetching purple tornado, and when you walk into one you activate a battle. You fight with 2 Spectrobes at your side that are somehow psychic and move in the exact same way you do.
Rallen has one button to attack which is completely useless, as he does barely any damage, and your two Spectrobes attack by pressing either L or R depending on what side they are. You just button mash your way through and hope for the best, there really isn't any skill involved. You can fight your friends via Wi-Fi if you really want, but you won't get bragging rights for it.
The world its set in is pretty nice though, with nice backgrounds and surroundings, but the people who inherit them must be ghosts as you can walk straight through them. I've also stumbled across some clones standing right next to each other and saying the exact same thing. The music isn't bad, buts it's not great either.
What did catch my eye though is the trading aspect. As you may have heard elsewhere on the site, Disney intends for Spectrobes to be the next big thing, and plans on releasing a TV series and films - the game is kind of them testing the water for the whole thing. You even have trading cards available, and these are central to the DS title.
The cards have small holes with numbers on them and are the same size as the bottom DS screen. If you find a certain item in the game you can unlock a feature that allows you to get the monsters and items off of these cards. You align them up with the touch screen, then poke through the holes with the stylus in the right order. It might be a bit of a money spinner, but it certainly is a unique way of doing things, and I imagine others will follow suit.