Reviewed: November 28, 2007
Released: November 6, 2007
Disney and Jupiter teamed up for the first time back in March of 2007 with the release of Spectrobes. Now here it is eight months later and we are presented with Spectrobes: Collectorís Edition for the Nintendo DS. So youíre probably wondering why Disney is re-releasing Spectrobes; when its sequel will be released sometime next year. Both units have the same gameplay so nothing new was added there. What really makes the difference is the 38 input cards that are offered this time around. When Spectrobes first came out you were given 4 cards and that was it. This time you are getting all the cards available to the game.
You play as Rallen, a young, ambitious Planetary Patrol Officer, who receives a distress call while on a routine mission. Rallen responds and finds a man in a cryogenic escape pod. Once awake the man known as Aldous tells of an evil species known as the Krawl and how they destroyed his home world. What makes matter worse is that the Krawl have started showing up in Rallenís galaxy. Rallen with the help of his partner Jeena and Aldous must now fight to keep their galaxy safe.
The main interface of Spectrobes is pretty simple. By main interface I mean the world that you move around in with Rallen. You will spend most of your time excavating spectrobe fossils, cubes, minerals and fighting any Krawl that get in your way. Before I begin, I have to say that Spectrobes is much like Digimon, as you have to raise and train Spectrobes to help you defeat the Krawl. Spectrobes takes full advantage of the DSís Dual Screens and it shows. When you are moving around the various planets in Rallenís galaxy, you are presented with a greater viewing area around your character than other games. This is highly useful if you are trying to get to a certain location and you want to avoid the Krawl.
You have a Child Spectrobe with you at all times so you can scan the area around the Spectrobe to see if any goodies are buried under the surface. This can be accomplished by either pressing down on the Spectrobe with your stylus or by holding down the R Button. Pressing the L Button will open up a screen showing the status of Rallen and your equipped Spectrobes. Pressing the X Button brings up the Prizmod Screen. The Prizmod is basically your inventory/storage device. The Prizmod can hold up to 6 Spectrobes at any given time and 1 search Spectrobe. You can also hold up to 99 fossils and 65 minerals to use later on.
But that is where the simple part of Spectrobe ends. There are so many menus to go through that is borders on madness. Okay maybe itís not that bad, but I guarantee youíll have the read the 62 page instruction booklet to navigate through the world of Spectrobes. Since there is a lack of a tutorial system in Spectrobes, youíre pretty much on your own. That is if you donít read the manual.
The creatures called Spectrobes are a lot like Pokťmon. Each Spectrobe has three forms. The first is the Child form, and is the form seen when a fossil is awakened. These Spectrobes are not really useful in battle, but they make excellent searchers. The Child Form is the only form of the three that is capable of searching for items buried in the earth. The last two forms are Adult and Evolved Form. Both of these forms are suited for battle against the Krawl. You can evolve your Spectrobe by placing it in the shipís incubator. Here you can feed your Spectrobes with the minerals you unearth, pet, and even change the terrain to better suit the Spectrobe you are trying to evolve.
The combat system of Spectrobes is pretty simple as battles go. When you engage one of the black vortexes, you are thrown into a 3 on 3 battle for your life. You can attack as Rallen by pressing the X Button. By pressing the B Button you can switch from one of Rallenís three weapons or any other item you have equipped. But honestly his attacks pale in comparison to the Spectrobesí attacks. You can have you Spectrobes perform basic attacks by pressing the L and R Buttons respectively. You can also pull additional attacks by pressing L or R plus X, Y, A, B and so on. But one of the coolest attacks is CH attacks.
Each Spectrobe has at least one special CH attack. By holding down the A Button in battle you build up CH energy. What CH Energy is is beyond me, but its results are phenomenal. Once you have enough CH energy to execute a certain Spectrobes CH attack you hit the Y Button and hit the L or R button respective to each Spectrobe. IF you charge the CH Bar full up you can release an uber powerful Combo attack by hitting Y then L+R. The first team to take out the other wins. If you score a victory, you are rewarded with Minergy, Gald (your cash source), and occasionally a item or two.
The Nintendo DS has always been about innovation and Spectrobes has it in spades. Now a lot of the stuff in Spectrobes has been used in other games such as Trace Memory, a personal favorite of mine, on the DS. As mentioned above a lot of your time will be spent unearthing Spectrobe fossils. And just like in real life, excavating these suckers is not an easy task.
When you finally have access to your first Child Form Spectrobe you must hunt down other fossils by using the Spectrobe to scan the ground. You will usually find one of the three items classes to dig up. To dig them up you need to tap the screen on the desired item if there is more than one. Once you do that, the real fun begins. You then tap the screen to break the surface to the desired depth then use the tools you have at your disposal to dig out your item. But be warned, if you are reckless you will destroy the item and the excavation fails.
The tools you use are pressure sensitive so if you move the stylus gently across the screen then the less rock is cut away and the lower chance that you will destroy the item. Spectrobes also makes use of the built in microphone. If you blow in to the microphone it will clear away any dirt chips on the excavation area. Once you uncover a item by 95% you can pick it up. The world is abundant of minerals but often you will uncover Cubes. Cubes will either tell you information on how to care for you Spectrobes and others unlock features such as the Card Input System.
Once you gather a number of Spectrobe fossils, you can input then into the shipís Lab System and awaken them. This part of Spectrobes will either make people think youíve gone crazy or worse. Spectrobes is definitely geared for younger ages but that doesnít stop me from playing it. To awake a Spectrobe you must basically yell into your DS and keep your voice at a certain level for 3 seconds. Honestly I found ways to avoid screaming into my DS and not look like an ass in public. There is not only a way to awaken your Spectrobe, but a way to change their color as well.
The Card Input System is probably the second coolest thing about Spectrobes. It makes sense now why Disney rereleased Spectrobes with all the Cards, this time around. You can play all the way through and never use a single card, but to get the true experience the cards are the key. You get access to Cubes that as far as I saw, canít be found in the game. Plus most of the Cards are the Evolved forms of Spectrobes that you can find without them. But itís nice to have a powerhouse when youíre getting your butt handed to you.
The graphics in Spectrobes are decent by DS standards. The environments on each of the planets are nicely done and the interiors of buildings and even Rallenís ship are well done. As mentioned above, you can see a larger view of the world around Rallen, and graphically thatís a big plus for me. I hate handheld titles on the DS that restrict these types of visuals. Spectrobes has a pretty brief video at the beginning that is well done and very much anime inspired. Rallen even reminded me of Edward Elric (Full Metal Alchemist) a little bit. The worlds you navigate through are rendered nicely and the desert planet of Nessa is probably one of my favorites. Rallen is surprisingly rendered well for being so small on the screen.
The only thing Spectrobes has going for it sound wise is the background music. There is no voice acting what so ever so you are stuck reading text throughout the entire journey. But the background music is what drives Spectrobes.
Spectrobes is crammed full of things do so youíll never really be doing the same thing over and over again. There is a Wireless play mode but it is restrained to local DS Wireless Play. There is also a Nintendo WFC mode but sadly there is no WFC play. You can download free webisodes that look pretty good, but due to the compression rate they look pretty bad compared to their online versions. Spectrobes: Collectorís Edition retails for $30 bucks and is well worth shelling out the extra $10 dollars for the Cards.
All in all, Spectrobes is a pretty fun game. The interaction with the excavations and the card input system were probably my favorite part of my experience. I would recommend Spectrobes to anyone that wants to put their DS to full use; that and any kid that enjoys yelling at their DS. Spectrobes is a game that I would recommend picking up instead of renting any day.