We recently had an opportunity to go hands-on with Spectrobes, a completely new IP for the Nintendo DS which is set for release worldwide on March 15th. After spending an extended amount of time with it, we're pleased to report that the game appears to be coming together rather well indeed.
For the uninformed, Spectrobes is an action/RPG hybrid. Upon beginning the game, you'll be introduced to two junior Planetary Patrol officers, Rallen and Jeena, who land on a mysterious planet. After a brief spot of exploration, Rallen finds some strange creatures, the titular Spectrobes. Immediately after finding these new beasts, a vicious force (known as the Krawl) attack you, and whilst Rallen is powerless against the Krawl, the Spectrobes - can you guess? - quite easily destroy them. After winning this skirmish, it's clear that the key to defeating the Krawl are the Spectrobes.
You'll initially begin the game with two Spectrobes in your inventory, both of which come in adult form (a Spectrobe has three forms: child, adult, and evolved). Spectrobes will change form as their stats improve. Only adult and evolved Spectrobes can do battle, but before you can battle anymore, you'll want to locate a few more of the blighters.
In the final build, you'll be able to trade items wirelessly with friends, as well as battle against them too. It's clear that the team behind Spectrobes is trying to encourage connectivity, and with around 500 Spectrobes appearing throughout the game, there should be plenty of incentive to trade with friends.
Spectrobes (along with many objects) are to be found hidden in the ground, and whilst the baby Spectrobes can't battle, they are able to handily search the ground for hidden Spectrobes and objects. Upon finding a myserious object, a small, coloured circle will appear on the ground, indicating to you that the ground can be excavated. To excavate, you'll need to use the DS' touchscreen to dig past the dirt. After tapping the touchscreen a few times, you'll need to drill down to reveal the Spectrobe. Excavating a Spectrobe is curiously good fun, a simple process but one that certainly takes some getting used to.
After you successfully dig up your Spectrobe, they'll appear in your inventory, initially in a cocoon that you'll need to awaken them from. This can be done by simply talking into the microphone of your DS and keeping your voice at a certain pitch. The pitch required to awaken your new find will change each time you try and awaken the creatures. After you awaken them, you'll need to nurture them before you can take them out to battle.
This leads us on to the most impressive aspect of the title: the battles. These take place in real time, and you'll require two Spectrobes to do battle. When battling, you're whisked away to a special 3D arena. The two shoulder buttons on the DS are used to execute attacks, with the left one controlling one Spectrobe and the right the other. If you build up enough momentum during a battle, then you'll actually be able to execute special attacks together, and these will vary, depending on which Spectrobes you're battling with.
You won't just use your Spectrobes to battle, however, as Rallen is also able to join in the fight against the Krawl. Whilst Rallen is weak at the beginning of the game, it appears you'll be able to pick up items to improve his strength. All of the battle action will take place on the bottom screen, with the top screen used to keep you updated in how much HP your Spectrobes have. Winning a battle will reward you with currency, which can be used in game to purchase items.
Spectrobes will also come packed with some collector cards. These will have small holes in them, and by putting your stylus into these holes, you'll unlock special Spectrobes. The cards will be given away for free with the game, and you'll be able to trade cards with your friends to unlock even more Spectrobes.
We've only really touched the surface of what Spectrobes has to offer. The game will come packed on a 512MB cartridge (to put that in prespective, the standard size of a DS cartridge is 128MB), and it looks like there'll be plenty of content in the game. Even just by browsing the menus it was easy to tell that there's plenty more to learn about the game. With real time 3D battles, wireless play, wireless trading, a fully 3D world and a bundle of Spectrobes to be collected, we're confident this will be one of the biggest Nintendo DS titles of 2007.