I'm not sure if this counts as a review or not, because I haven't gotten very far in the game yet.
Spectrobes is some new kind of RPG for the DS. The story takes place in space, like 50% of RPGs. The story involves fossils, of which there are like three different kinds in the first couple areas. It's basically like Pokemon, except it's lamer and harder to catch stuff and there's way less strategy involved. Also, it's made by Disney, which doesn't really matter because it has absolutely nothing to do with any lame Disney properties (I'm looking at you, Country Bear Jamboree!)
I don't think the actual storyline matters, but it goes a little something like this:
While you are out space-adventuring one day, you get a call about a Mysterious Object on some random planet. You are forced to investigate, because you're in the Space Police or something. When you investigate, you find some kind of magic wristwatch, and a frozen guy in a pod, who I will now refer to as "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer." You also engage in a battle with an evil purple cloud of monsters, which you battle with these other monsters that live inside the wristwatch.
I told you it didn't matter.
There are about 4000000000 things you have to do in this game, and I'm not entirely sure how fun any of them are. Let me give you a rundown of the flow of the game, for reference.
After you take Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer back to the ship and talk to him and get the traditional "save the world" spiel, you get a "follower" Spectrobe that follows you around. The follower guy helps you seek out Spectrobe fossils, which is what you will spend more time doing than actual battle.
To search for fossils, you have to touch the Spectrobe with the stylus. He emits a little circle of searchy-energy-stuff around him, and any hidden fossils/items show up as sparkly things. You tap one of those, and then a digging minigame starts, which I'll get to in a minute.
Let it be known that you have to actually stop walking to scan the immediate area around you for fossils. I'm pretty sure that item placement is mostly random, too, which means you'll be spending a lot of time walking and stopping. One hand on the D-Pad and one hand with the stylus hovering directly over the Spectrobe. It's like, I don't know, if you had to stop running every five seconds during the marathon. Or something equally irritating.
At least battles aren't random. Instead, purple tornadoes of monsters fly around the map, and if you hit one, you're sucked into a battle. Remember Dizzy Devil from Tiny Toon Adventures? It's kind of like that.
Before I get into the battle, let me talk about this digging minigame. Since it's about digging, it naturally takes place on the touch screen. You have to tap the screen a few times to break past a couple layers of rock, and then you see part of the fossil/item sticking out of the ground. At this point you press a shoulder button to "scan" for the basic shape of the fossil, then drill around it. This minigame is actually sort of fun, because there is all kinds of strategies for carefully removing the fossil from the ground (if you drill the fossil accidentally, you damage it, which is NO GOOD because you can lower the stats of the Spectrobe or destroy it).
Battle is a whole different story. You only take two Spectrobes into battle, because each one is assigned to a shoulder button. Your character, RandomAnimeGuy, also joins in on the action, but his attacks are mostly lame at the beginning of the game. It's a real-time battle, which is right up my alley, and you can walk anywhere within the little battle arena area. This is sort of weird, because you are moving three characters at the same time--they're not "following" you, they actually move at the same time RandomAnimeGuy moves. It's different, to say the least.
Attacks are carried out via the shoulder buttons. The Spectrobes you get at the beginning of the game pretty much just attack when you hit the buttons. However, I obtained some high-level Spectrobes through the really interesting code entry system, and they get entire attack menus upon command. I don't know if this is level-specific or Spectrobe-specific, but it's a lot easier to press R, then choose Attack, then choose which enemy to attack than it is to press R and hope you were aiming your Spectrobe at an enemy.
I mentioned the really interesting code entry system because I really like this feature. Somewhere near the beginning of the game, you get an item that unlocks the code entry machine. When you buy this DS game at your local retailer, it comes with some "bonus cards" in the case. The cards are a little see-through, and they have 7 numbered holes poking through them. When you start up the code entry system, you have to place the card on your touch screen and tap through each hole in order. I don't know why this is so amazing, but it is. The best part is that you can just LOOK at a card--or better yet, a scan of the card that you find on the Internet--and tap in the approximate areas. It helps if you get the high-level Spectrobe cards, so that you can cheat, like me.
After you dig up a fossil, you have to "awaken" it back at your spaceship. This involves a weird minigame that I don't like as much as the digging game. Awakening your fossils involves yelling into the microphone at a species-specific volume for three seconds straight. It's more fun if you don't want to yell at the game, like me, and if you try and find substitutions for yelling at it. Blowing into the microphone works, and running your finger over the microphone seems to work on the DS lite.
Overall, it's not a bad way to waste time, right now--although I hope that I end up finding more than just the same four kinds of fossils. Battle takes a while to get used to, but when it works, it's not bad.
I didn't get to test out the online features, but from what I gather, there isn't any online battle, so I probably won't get into it anyway.
In short, it's fun, but it's no Pokemon.
Labels: Nintendo DS, Reviews