Do you like Pokémon, the “find-em-all” concept and do you admire people who can search every inch of the beach with a metal detector while hoping to find something vulnerable? Then you may skip this review and run to the stores. The others better stay around.
Fossils, Spectrobes, excavations, fights, there has to be a story behind all this. That’s the case, but don’t expect too much of it anyway. Rallen and Jeena are two young agents of the Nanairo Planetary Police. On one of their missions, they discover an escape capsule that contains an old, frozen man, Aldous. When he’s back with the living, he tells them his planet was tortured by cruel creatures, the Krawl. He discovered that the extinct race of Spectrobes is able to beat the Krawl and that’s why he developed the Prizmod, an ingenious wrist device that can revive Spectrobes. As by miracle, Rallen seems the only one capable of using the Prizmod and that’s the start of the search for fossils, the reviving of Spectrobes, their evolution and the fights with the Krawl.
Sounds a lot like Pokémon, but the main object here are the excavations. In your team, there’s a child Spectrobe who follows you everywhere. He scans the ground to see if there are any fossils, minerals or cubes hidden when you tap him with the stylus or when you use L or R. Unfortunately, the circle he’s searching in is very little, so you have to check again every three steps. They always say patience is the greatest of all virtues, well it sure is a quality you can use here.
When the little one tells you there is something buried around him, you tap the found spot and that brings you to a minigame. At the right, you have a big drill, a little one and another piece of equipment to remove the tiny parts. The purpose is to keep the fossil, mineral or cube intact, so when you scratch the touch screen like a lunatic, you won’t get very far. Quickly, you’ll learn that it is no big deal, a few taps with the big drill and you can see the 95 percent of the object you need to be able to pick it up. If you want to get rid of those annoying pieces of dust, why not just blow them away? In the beginning, it definitely is a fun way to spend your time, but after you’ve done it for the fiftieth time, you have had enough.
You take everything you find back to the ship. There you are able to revive the fossils in an other kind of minigame. A sound meter has to stay on the same spot for three seconds. You can do this by talking to your DS, but perhaps people won’t call you crazy if you try to gently blow in it. Especially when you’re in a public place, this might be a good idea.
The young and alive Spectrobes can now go to the incubator so they can evolve into their adult form. To speed things up, you can caress them and feed them the minerals you found. With Nintendogs in the back of your head, this might sound cute, but it is in no way comparable. There are four incubators, each one having room for two Spectrobes. If you put two together, they will become friends and that might mean an advantage if you let them fight together later on. You can take a look at the different capabilities of the Spectrobes and make sure you create the ideal fight couple.
Real time fights, it’s true, but it all feels a bit weird. Rallen has a Spectrobe on his left side and one on his right. This means the three of them move when you use the D-pad. Rallen has a few ways to attack, but it doesn’t really harm the monsters much. It is more effective to command the Spectrobes. With L you tell your left bodyguard to attack, with R the right one. However, you need CH-energy for this attacks, so there is always a short period to charge. That sounds like a big disadvantage, but if you move around a bit it’s all pretty easy. In general all the fights in this game are not really challenging, not even the bosses or the 30-matches-in-a-row fights in Sequence Battle mode.
Besides the fossils and minerals, you can also excavate cubes. If you give them to Aldous, he will be more than happy to have a look at them for you. This way, developer Jupiter makes sure a lot of game features are unlocked after playing for a while. For example, there’s a system with real cards, who without doubt have to raise the profits. There are several little holes on the cards and after finding the appropriate cube, you can form a code by putting your stylus in the holes and tapping the touch screen on those places. New Spectrobes and special parts will then become available. Another cube offers you wireless communication with your friends so you can exchange things, fight against each other or play a multiplayer fight with up to sixteen gamers. The Tau Cube unlocks the machine for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. It’s not possible to fight online with your Spectrobes, but you can download some things. You can also upload the scores you got in the Sequence Battles and put them on the website Spectrobes.com.
Spectrobes might be capable of pleasing the target group of eight to fourteen year olds, but the long lasting and precise searching got boring pretty fast. The battles aren’t worth it either. All in all, I expected more of a game supported by Disney and hyped that much. The new Pokémon? I think they’ll have to do a bit better!