So… it’s Friday night. No date. The phone bill hasn’t been paid in three months, so nobody’s calling. You’ve got the Wii hooked up, and you need a fix since your DS met with an unfortunate end in a Pokémon-related “accident”. What to do, what to do… wait a second! Nothing to fear, Spectrobes is here!
[image1]And just what are Spectrobes? They’re fossilized creatures that dot the landscape of every major planet in the solar system, just waiting to be dug up and brought back to life… so they can follow you around. After chiseling them out of their fossils and playing a little diddy to get them bopping around, you’ll have your very own little squad to explore with.
You also have to decide their fate: You can keep them little and adorable, or you can raise them up into ruthless (yet still huggable) killing machines against the Krawl, the evil aggressors trying to take over everything in sight. Your sole job is to collect the artifacts from Spectrobe masters past, piece them together before the Krawl do, and beat them at their own violent, slimy way.
Plus, I heard they say bad things about your mother behind your back. They’re like that.
As is to be expected from Disney, this is a fairly bare-bones RPG designed for a younger crowd. It’s as basic are you can get: an overly-passionate protagonist (“We’ll beat ALL the bad guys! Let’s do it!”), a nerdy side-kick (“Come on, take this seriously for a second while I take less time than that to make everything work!”), dark-and-silent bad guys who literally come out of thin air just to put you down – all of it is on display here with no apologies. It’s actually kind of nice, in that “traditional Disney family animated classic” kind of way.
[image2]Thankfully here, the Wii-mote is king, and doesn’t feel like it’s forced at all. When you find yourself uncovering and rejuvenating new Spectrobes, you actually have to clean off each fossil; the faster you clean, the higher the level they can start out at. The process is simple and straight-forward but is enjoyable nonetheless. There is one annoyance, however, and that’s the actual “bringing the little buggers back to life” part, which uses the Wii-mote and Nunchuk. Just a bee-bop motion. At first it might be cute, but after the third time it has you wondering why you’re wasting five seconds for every fossil.
One notable feature is the voice-acting: It doesn’t suck! I guess a company with those deep, deep pockets can afford some really good voice talent. With a couple exceptions, the voices and conversations are well-spoken and project some kind of character, instead of just dredging on about a mission that won’t ever make sense, even if the writing is as basic and stereotypical as possible. Usually I would complain about how the dialog is bare-boned and the characters are fairly flat stereotypes, but they’re almost totally tolerable with the right vocal backing.
Unfortunately, the load times are just too long and too frequent, given that many areas are just barren wastelands, no matter the terrain type. Each area is simply too large for how little is in it; the desert planet is just a large box of sand with a few rocks scattered about. It actually resembles the environments in Evolution and Grandia II on the Dreamcast, and while that’s a nice throwback for me, it shouldn’t look like it was done on ten-year-old hardware (BTW, happy birthday, Dreamcast!).
[image3]And – most unfortunate – each Spectrobe feels too much like they want to be a Pokémon, complete with a “child” form and two evolved forms. Also, packing them into six slots for battle doesn’t help the cause much. Spectrobes is too formulaic to stand out on its own in the “battling creatures” arena, even if you’re wielding a sword/lance/axe and fighting with them.
Spectrobes: Origins is a fun, little time-waster for the crowd that’s gotten sick of those addictive little pocket monsters, but honestly, if you’ve already spend hours upon hours collecting and evolving monsters, you’ll probably want some time off. Spectrobes: Origins is fun if it’s your first foray into the collect-a-thon genre, but otherwise, it’s a pixelated case of follow the leader.