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Platform

DS

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

BVG

 

Developer

Jupiter

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

March 2007

 

 

- Local wifi multiplayer and ability to swap items and Spectrobes

- Has the potential to become strong competition for the Pokemon juggernaut

- Digging stuff up has a certain allure...

 

 

- ... but after the 100th dig which unearths a Spectrobe of which you already have 15, the digging wears thin

- Battles are also repetitive

- No sidequests or puzzles

 

 

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Spectrobes

Score: 6.0 / 10

 

Many have tried and just as many have failed to match the success of the Pokémon franchise.  Springing onto the scene is Spectrobes – sure to appeal to the pre-teen crowd, with its emphasis on collecting, nurturing, and going into battle with a cornucopia of Spectrobes.

 

spectrobes          spectrobes

 

Spectrobes hold the key to halting a threat to the galaxy.  The only problem is that Spectrobes have been dead for a long, long time.  Only the fossil record remains.  The main focus is on wandering planets and scanning for their bones.  Once acquired, the fossil can be taken back to you ship to be “awakened.”  From there, it’s into the incubator for proper feeding of a steady stream of minerals, which are also collected in the same way as the fossils.  Once they have suitably evolved the Spectrobe can be put into your rotation of fighting Spectrobes – those animals you turn to when you’re fighting the enemies within the swirling Black Vortexes (AKA 

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Krawl), which, of course, swirl around each planet thwarting your efforts to mine Spectrobes, minerals, and other odds and ends to push the linear story forward.

 

The constant need to “go mining” loses its charm after a few hundred digs.  Using the touchscreen to excavate each find – tap the screen then select an appropriate tool to grind/wipe away 

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the top layer without causing the artifact too much damage – is a very cool idea, but you’ll be doing it constantly and because each artifact shows up in exactly the same position every time, it becomes very easy to know what you’re digging up long before you uncover the whole thing.  Better tools become available later on that lessen the amount of time spent digging.

 

If you think it’s a mix that is ripe for repetition, you’d be absolutely correct!  Five hours in and I had awakened numerous Spectrobes and dug up scores of minerals, but I had yet to actually come across any meaningful puzzles or challenges.  Another five after that and I was in the same position.  What it lacks in puzzles it makes up for in creature complexity.

 

spectrobes          spectrobes

 

Even more of a detriment is that collecting this stuff and buying and selling it is practically the only thing you can do.  There are no puzzles to speak of, which seems to be a massive oversight for a role-playing game.  The fighting, handled easily and intuitively, is a strong point (but also very repetitive).  You control Callen with two Spectrobes as your wingmen, which attack by way of pressing the left or right shoulder buttons.  (Wifi multiplayer is included as an extra option and battle happens the same way.)  It’s straightforward enough to be easy to grasp but difficult enough to be a challenge against the higher level beasties.

 

There are obvious flaws with the fighting system though.  Item drops are atrociously few and far between, monetary reward is low (making it difficult to allow purchase items), and the inventory can’t be accessed during battle.  That last one in particular grated on me to no end.  Why can’t I pop a pill and regain some HP?  Just because.

 

Spectrobes takes too long to get going – the digging is a novelty that wears off way too soon – and the lack of puzzles and/or interesting side plots and quests kneecap the experience.  With its sights on the Pokémon juggernaut, I’m hoping Spectrobes learns some lessons and comes back for a second round because there’s a lot of potential here.

 

- Omni

(April 11, 2007)

 

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