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Spectrobes Package Art
Action RPG
Disney Interactive


The developers of Spectrobes do not like the comparisons to a particular franchise, but they are inevitable. Players control Rallen, a young member of a space brigade of planetary protectors. He heads out on strange planets, collects feisty little creatures only he can control and trains them for battle. There's some promise, but this is not the next Pokémon.


Spectrobes operates in an often vertical 3D environment, taking advantage of both DS screens for gameplay, rather than the common practice of reserving one screen for data and the other for gameplay. Strangely, the style takes some getting used to as the camera is at a slightly high angle and feels a little too zoomed in. The practice of following the vertical action is a new experience. Characters are a little pixilated, but it's a fair exchange for the overall breadth of the 3D play area, which spans multiple planets, each with relatively large areas.

The polish applied to Spectrobes is quite commendable. While nearly every video game is likely given the utmost care, this is a rare example where it is easily evident. The environments are of particular flare, from the surfaces to the base station to the ever growing Spectrobes. The first time players leave the ship and take a peek outside, they will be pleasantly surprised. The overall visual style is somewhat reminiscent of the Lost in Blue series.


While rather catchy, the music and sound effects are standard fare. But the audio input through the DS microphone is utilized in more atypical ways. Players must awaken Spectrobe fossils by speaking into the DS mic at the proper volume. While yelling into the DS in a public place can be a little embarrassing, it's a logical and unique element to the game. During excavation, players blow into the mic to clear away dust and debris. All in all, it's a clever and intuitive design decision.


One thing Spectrobes may do is a little too much of everything. The game has a high level of complexity if players want to take advantage of every option. The menus have tons of layers, and exactly how to maneuver them is a game all its own. No wonder the instructions are a whopping 70 pages.

Much of the game is based around the excavation of Spectrobes, which certainly resemble Pokémon in practice. The excavations are clever at first, as players use the touch screen to dig the creatures and other items such as minerals and informational cubes. But they soon tire, and only collectathon fans will enjoy scouring every nook and cranny of every planet to find them. Like most RPGs, players can force their way through with limited items, but the essence of Spectrobes is finding and using the excavated items. Unfortunately, doing so is just not fun.

Battles become equally slow. Players take two Spectrobes at a time into a real-time battle in a mini-arena. Different Spectrobes have different powers, and strategy is in choosing which to take into battle. Players control Rallen and the two Spectrobes individually, but the fights are mostly the same throughout the game. Since the basic battle is repetitive, it becomes an exercise in tolerance. While the best of action RPGs entice players to invest time in leveling up characters and searching out power-ups, Spectrobes makes both feel like employment. Players will do both only because it is required work for the paycheck of completion. Some people like games like that, but most do not.


Multiple Spectrobes owners can hook up for local wireless fights. For this review, the option was not tested.


The game does a lot, looks nice and offers some interesting options such as Wi-Fi downloads and slick trading cards that unlock new Spectrobes; but the game is ultimately more tedious than it is worth. It's also low on fun, which should be the basis of most games. Spectrobes surely has an audience, but it's much more specific than Disney Interactive would have liked.

final score 6.0/10

Staff Avatar Dave Magliano
Staff Profile | Email
"Tiger uppercut!!"

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