Review by Brad527
"Epic ideas turned epic failure"
In my many days and travels as a gamer, I've learned that you can never truly decide whether or not a game is good without an open mind. For example, let's brush on the almighty Halo 2. I went into it expecting the best damn game ever, being the sequel to Halo:CE, and was forced to reluctantly admit defeat and shook my head at the lackluster attempt at a single player campaign. Now, switching gears, let's take Disney games as a whole. Aladdin, Lion King, Kingdom Hearts, all very good games coming from a 'childish' company and 'childish' characters. Most wouldn't expect these games to be the gems that they are, but, well, they are.
However, as I journeyed into the world of Spectrobes with a fully open mind, I left it cursing and in the general direction of Walt Disney's grave (to dance on it of course). Spectrobes came following the wake of enormous hype, and disappointed many eagerly awaiting fans.
Spectrobes, in short, is a 'gotta catch em all' sort of game, if I may borrow from Pokemon (although Spectrobes is in no way a rip off of said game, don't get me wrong). You control Rallen, an overly zealous youth, and must travel from planet to planet battling the evil Krawl. Along the way, Rallen will be finding, digging up, and reviving fossils of creatures called Spectrobes. These creatures, varied in size and shape (although not so much ability) grow and evolve as you fight alongside them in battle. Can't go wrong with that, right? Wrong. (Hehe... wordplay...)
Now, I'm just going to flat out say that for the most part, this game was... bad. Seeing as that this has been established, I'm going to break this into sections based on particular aspects of the game as opposed to the typical graphics/game play/etc.
The Excavation System 8/10
First off, the best part of this game. I shall admit that this feature is quite unique- the excavation system In order to gain more Spectrobes, you must first find their fossils, designated by glowing spots of light found all over. Once found, the game enters an excavation mode. After the first layers of rock are broken away, its time to slowly carve away at the dirt surrounding the fossil. However, they are very fragile things, and must be treated with care... or, they die, as does any chance of reviving the poor, already dead little monster thing inside it. Darn. My big complaint with this otherwise amusing function is that it quickly becomes a tedious, repetitive chore.
The Battle System 3/10
...Wow. Just... wow. Way to go Disney. I can't even think of a way to accurately describe my stunned silence. Maybe a good long ................................. will work. Sure.
Any who, a typical battle scene would work something like this:
Rallen bravely faces down his foes, a Spectrobe on either side of him. He charges the enemy, striking one with his mighty sword... and has little or no effect on it. Ever. Cursing, he waits for a painfully long cooldown on ALL attacks, his and Spectrobes alike, before ordering Spectrobe A to attack. The Spectrobe, running along side Rallen and refusing to leave his side, punches directly in front of him with no sense of aim whatsoever, and misses. To make matters worse, the ground is slippery for no apparent reason, and he skids along helplessly.
That was no dramatization. The battle controls are simple: the d-pad moves Rallen and both Spectrobes at the same time. L+R orders their respective Spectrobes to attack. Seems like the battles would be simple as well, right? Wrong. Take note that I left out Rallen's attack button, seeing as that he does all the good of throwing half a dead squirrel at the monsters he faces. There is no way to directly control or aim the Spectrobes attacks, so misses are aplenty in every battle. For some reason, there is almost no traction on the ground, so Rallen and friends literally skid to a stop and struggle to turn around constantly. Such frustrations and controls make the battles near unplayable.
Spectrobe Customization and Growth 6/10
A well thought out system that was poorly implemented. After reviving a fossil (by speaking to it at a correct volume, surprisingly difficult and can give a few laughs), Spectrobes all start off in a weak, non-combat form. These baby forms follow Rallen around and scan for nearby fossils. However, in order to become battle ready, they must spend a good amount of time in an incubator. Once inside said incubator, Spectrobes (both young and old) can be fed different stat changing items found in the same method as fossils. Leveling Spectrobes focuses on upping their stat levels, as older Spectrobes evolve further by reaching certain stats as opposed to their overall level.
While this may seem like a good system, it is mostly useless in this game. Spectrobes are, sadly, Spectrobes. There is little difference between the creatures, though some may be slightly stronger or more sturdy, they are interchangeable. Upping stats ends in up more noticeable results, but are not needed as this game's difficulty is so low that an average player could go through the game with the starting monsters, never once feeding them stat items, and have little trouble.
Spectrobes had shown, both before and after its release, a whole lot of potential. Unfortunately, it failed miserably to utilize it. Ungodly terrible battle controls, repetitive gameplay, and questionable usefulness to other features ruin what could have possibly been an amazing handheld RPG. As much as I would love to recommend at least giving this game a shot, I can't. Maybe Spectrobes 2 will be everything this one should have been, and I'll write a 10/10 review for it. However, this Spectrobes only receives half that. It was a valiant effort, Disney, but Spectrobes started at the time and dropped straight to the bottom.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 07/27/07
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