Developer: Jupiter Corporation | Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Spectrobes is a new action RPG from Disney for the Nintendo DS. Developed by the Jupiter Corporation in Kyoto, Japan, players assume the role of Rallen, a young officer in the Planetary Patrol. The Planetary Patrol keeps people in the galaxy safe from harm. Along with your fellow officer Jeena, you go from planet to planet keeping everything safe. When Rallen and Jeena find a capsule that encases an old soldier by the name of Aldus, that’s when they find there is more to the galaxy than it may seem.
World-eating creatures named the Kraul are coming towards Rallen and Jeena’s solar system, and the only way they can be defeated are by using the powers of dormant creatures named Spectrobes that are buried as fossils beneath planet surfaces. When used, the fossils create Spectrobes that can be raised into powerful allies. Rallen must go to each planet and excavate minerals to give them more power. To find fossils and minerals, Rallen uses a baby Spectrobe that is able to detect them. Moving around on the gameplay screen consists of using the D-pad, and when a Spectrobe finds something to dig out of the ground (you have to tell it to find something) you tap the screen where a sparkly little dot is and enter the digging mode. You use the stylus to “dig” by rubbing the touch screen. There are different tools for Rallen to use while digging for fossils and minerals, and using the right ones will end in a successful excavation.
Once you acquire a Spectrobe fossil, you’ll have to wake it up by using the microphone in the DS. The way you’ll wake it up is by singing or humming a tune at a sustained volume that is denoted on the screen. Once a Spectrobe is awakened, you put it in an incubator and feed it minerals until it becomes an adult. Once it becomes an adult, you can add it to your party as a battle Spectrobe. You can carry up to six at the same time, but only two can be used actively in battle with the remaining four supporting the two that are in battle. Eventually, Spectrobes will evolve into a more powerful form to further help in your battle against the Kraul. During battle, you can command the Spectrobes that are on either side of Rallen with the L and R shoulder buttons. You’ll have to use the Spectrobes in the correct order to get through battles, and as time goes on, the combos get more complicated.
While looking at the screenshots, the graphics aren’t anything to get too excited about. The art direction is very akin to Japanese RPGs, so if you like that kind of art style, the game should be up your alley. Controlling the menu screens were a little annoying to me since it was a combination of using the controls on the DS and the touch screen. An interesting aspect of the game is that you can acquire (buy?) physical cards that you can put on top of the DS’ touch screen and poke at the holes that are punched in the card to unlock a new Spectrobe. Kind of an interesting implementation of the touch screen, but I’m not sure if it’d be worth it if you have to buy these cards separately or whatever you have to do with them. Recently I had seen a GameStop advertisement about the game and it seems like they will give a card out for free, while supplies last, with a purchase of Spectrobes, but it also implied that there would be more cards to buy separately.
Spectrobes is due to be released this week in North America.