This is an article that got me in trouble. I wrote a frank, very sarcastic description of what happened during the day. This was, I think, my very first gaming press event (that wasn’t E3) and I was unsure of what to do the whole time. In retrospect, I should have done more to get on the right track, but at the same time I was not informed by the PR company I was working with as to who I should meet with and what exactly was going on that day — I was operating on very little other than knowing I was to go to Disneyland.
Because of not knowing what to do, I was not able to get much exposure or learn anything about the game I was actually supposed to preview, so I wrote a paragraph about the Spectrobes itself that was inaccurate and not representative of the game. I’ve left it in in this article (indented it), but please note that pretty much anything about the game is not the full picture, and only a small part of the game itself based on about 20 minutes of playing aimlessly. Otherwise, the rest of the day is as I described it! I was pretty frustrated with the day, but writing a sarcastic and assholey article was terrible in retrospect.
As to how I actually got in trouble, the PR company read my article, as I posted the whole thing on NeoGAF (a gaming forum I frequented). I don’t think it lasted on GamersMark very long if it was there at all. As a result of the PR company not liking my article at all, we were “reset” in our relationship with Buena Vista Games (Disney) and would have to rebuild our relationship — no more games to review, no invitations to press events, and whatever else came with it. It wasn’t a big deal since Disney made mostly kids games (outside of our writer’s desired demographic for their writing) and they would eventually scale back their publishing almost entirely.
Adventures awaited me the morning of Friday, February 23rd at Disneyland. I was invited to a Spectrobes game event in Tomorrowland where they would have fourth graders come to play the game and do some things in front of the camera. But that’s at the end of my day. My day started at 6:30 am, as I woke up from a nice dream about Spectrobes and digging fossils because I was THAT excited for playing the game…and because I’d get into Disneyland for free.
So on the way, I follow the instructions to get to Disneyland. Having not been there in four years, I was mildly interested to see the park again.
First problem – I had to park in Downtown Disney. No big deal… except when I went into the area where I thought the parking lot would be, it looked like it was all blocked off. So I freak out, make a U-turn, and go the opposite direction. Then, I called a person (who we were supposed to call in case of difficulties) and left her a message. She calls me back, not having listened to my message, so I just ask her about the parking situation. She said the parking lot should be open and she’d find out what was up. Fifteen minutes later of driving, I figured out I just hadn’t gone far enough down the road and found a parking space. I called her back and told her I was sorry, just hadn’t gone far enough. After which, I began the long trek through Downtown Disney into the rising sun feeling like an idiot because I already had to call this person twice.
About fifteen minutes later, I ended up at the Media Tent outside the main gates of Disneyland. At which point, I got a ticket, a media badge, and a fifteen dollar meal voucher. Score! …Or not, considering how bad the food is there. Should have just gotten fifteen dollars worth of ice cream bars instead. So, like 2?
Anyway, I get taken into a backroom VIP Lounge place in the “Innoventions” building where they have a continental breakfast set up. I get a few croissants and a coke and sit there. No one talks to me, I don’t know what’s happening, I see some Japanese dude (the game’s producer) talking in Japanese to a some other guy, a few annoying kids walking around… next I know its about 8:30 am or so. At this point, the event was going to start soon. But I don’t know where it is, or really what to expect. I suppose I could have tried talking to someone, but it was way too early in the morning for me to begin with.
Through the course of me reading through press materials that were laid out on the small table in the center of the room, I’m left alone with people who don’t know anything when I finally get the balls to ask someone what the fuck I do. I end up calling the same person I called earlier when I was trying to get to Disneyland, and basically told her I didn’t know what to do and was still in that room. She told me to just go outside where the event was, so I did, and watched what transpired. It should be noted: I never met this person on the phone.
Basically, all that happened was filmed by a crew from the Disney Channel. And guess who was there??? Jason Schooley!!!!! Actually, I never heard of the kid before today, so I didn’t understand why he was famous at all. He was signing lots of autographs for the kids and the camera. There was also a host for the Disney 365 thing they were doing. His name was Chester and he was so fake-happy it made me want to puke on him after beating his face in. But that’s Disney TV for ya, I guess. Not his fault that he has to act like a douche.
They had the game’s producer, Kentaro Hisai (the same dude that I saw earlier), talk about the game to the kids…in Japanese. So they had to have a translator, the quality assurance lead for the game, say what he said. I understood the things they were talking about, but I doubt any of the kids really did. Afterwards, Jason Schooley picked five kids out of the audience to open black bags with goodies in it. What was in the bags? A DS and a copy of Spectrobes. Turned out, all the 4th grader kids would get one of those bags when they left for the day. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get one of those goody bags.
So after they unleashed the 4th graders to play Spectrobes, I just waited around and watched Schooley sign autographs and get oogled by preteen girls standing outside the filming area taking pictures of him, and watch Chester jump around and smile from ear to ear like an idiot.
Eventually, the kids got bored of the game (it probably took less than ten minutes) and they started crowding around Schooley so the cameras could make it seem like he was really popular. During which, I got some time to play the game. What follows are my impressions of Spectrobes:
Spectrobes is a simple, yet fairly unique “action” RPG. I say “action” because there is no action in the classical sense of the word as it applies to RPGs. From what I gathered in the twenty minutes or so of play time I had, you dig fossils and gain experience for whatever you find. Spectrobes basically help you find these fossils/items to begin with, and you dig them out with your stylus as you rub the touch screen with it. There’s also a timer for each fossil digging, which may or may not affect your experience gained. I’m not sure, really. I don’t know what you do with the minerals/stones you find, but you can use fossils to get more Spectrobes.
When you Awaken a Spectrobe fossil from the Lab, you choose which fossil to wake up, and then say “wake up” (or maybe you can say other things, not sure here either) into the DS’ mic at the appropriate sound level and it will “wake up.” Unfortunately I didn’t really want to yell wake up into the DS in front of a bajillion 4th graders in front of a camera and ruin their shots, so I kept quiet. Moving around on the gameplay screen consisted 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 thing is and enter the digging mode.
The graphics were bland at best, and there didn’t seem to be very much “exploring” to do at least in the areas I had access to. Even though I found the graphics to be unimpressive, considering it’s the DS I suppose they are decent. 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. As far as I could tell, the whole game is about going around and finding fossils and digging them out as you gain levels and get more Spectrobes in your party. An interesting aspect of the game is that you can get (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.
As I was playing, the camera crew, 4th graders, Chester, and Schooley made their way toward the booth I was at. I hadn’t noticed that happening until I heard Chester’s stupid-happy voice. I looked away from the DS and saw Schooley looking at me with a weird expression…probably wondering why a 21 year old (I’ve been told I look much older, though) wearing all black was playing a kid’s game. I acted like I didn’t care who he was (cause I didn’t), and looked back down to the DS. Eventually, I looked back up and he was looking at me again… this time he looked like he was scared of me or something. Whatever. Just hope he didn’t pee his pants or something. Wouldn’t want his huge belt buckle getting rusty.
So, afterwards I just left, and ate a crappy burger made by fake Jedis, and walked around Disneyland for a couple hours.