Spectrobes: Origins Preview

I choose you, Spectrobe-chu!

Spectrobes: Origins is what happens when you take the gotta-catch-‘em-all mentality of Pokémon, churn it through the expansive futuristic blender of Phantasy Star Universe, and smother it in all the fantasticality of Nintendo and Disney. Now, I could spend all day showing you how this game is like so many other games combined together (as some would say, an overused method for creating an intro paragraph), but all you need to know is that you need to save the universe from evil alien creatures with the aid of your trusty companions, the Spectrobes.

[image1]Following the events in Spectrobes and Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals, two Jupiter-developed titles for the Nintendo DS, the Krawl have returned to wreak havoc in a new galactic system. As always, the main characters Rallen, a planetary police officer with the usual teenage hero complex, and Jeena, his practical and tech-savvy navigator, have come to save the day, utilizing their unique abilities to unearth and control ancient creatures known as Spectrobes (or shall we say, Super-Fossil Monsters). Any fossils you uncover can be excavated and extracted using a specialized machine aboard your intergalactic ship. Here is a video of the excavation process.

As you might expect, handling a team of Spectrobes is the only way to survive the onslaught of Krawl. Instead of having battles separated between Spectrobes and humans, this time around you and one of your chosen Spectrobes will be fighting alongside each other in real-time. Just think of it as if you’re playing Phantasy Star Universe with your droid companion, except your companion is just as, if not more, important than you are, since they can serve as your main attack, defense, or healing force.

[image2]With so many Spectrobes to choose from (I’m hoping for more than the 170+ Spectrobes in Beyond the Portals), planning is more than just half the battle. If you pay attention to the five elemental types, you can assemble a team of Spectrobes that will likely win within the first ten seconds they step onto the field. Of course, if your HP level reaches zero, it’s lights out, but it’s probably because you didn’t carefully swap out the right Spectrobe at the right time. Either that, or you didn’t spend enough time leveling up your Spectrobes from their child form (which can detect treasures and other fossilized Spectrobes nearby) into their more combat-oriented adult form.

Thankfully, you’re not a helpless runt, but an officer with plenty of combat skills and maneuvers to hold your own. You can even use items, which I presume can heal you and your Spectrobe as well as impart all those usual effects that items in RPGs can do. While you run around the battlefield, you will lock onto the nearest enemy while your Spectrobe supports you by attacking, thereby distracting enemies and sucking up damage, or follow you around curing negative status effects or regenerating your health. While there is no explicit dual attack system, with good timing, you can string a freeform juggle combo against an enemy with your Spectrobe and ultimately send the Krawl packing.

Spectrobes: Origins looks to be Disney’s claim to the uncultivated RPG market on the Wii and a significant expansion for the Spectrobes series. Look for it to hyperspace into stores this fall 2009, and check out the videos below.