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Joseph Rositano
10 Nov, 2009

Spectrobes: Origins Review

Wii Review | Honki de iku ze!
Spectrobes has become a phenomenal success for Disney Interactive Studios. The first game was the company’s first original IP and shipped more than 700,000 units in the first month of its release, eventually paving the way for a re-release and a sequel on the Nintendo DS. Now the franchise has made the jump to Wii, and the end result is a fun and charming action RPG that will appeal to existing fans and children of all ages.

In Spectrobes Origins, Rallen and Jeena, the series’ main heroes, are sent on a routine mission to investigate a sector of space, when they’re suddenly pulled through a portal. The portal takes the duo to an uncharted galaxy known as the Kaio System, where they discover the Krawl are up to no good on the planet Wyterra. Promising to help the planet’s inhabitants, Rallen and Jeena must now work together to put a stop to the Krawl once and for all. The story is rather predictable and won’t leave you inspired enough to play through it a second time, but it holds your interest until the end and will immediately appeal to the game’s target audience.

Burn baby, burn.

Burn baby, burn.
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The handheld Spectrobes titles have always been compared to Pokémon due to the way the games had an emphasis on collecting and evolving the titular creatures. Of course, one thing Nintendo has failed to do with the Pokémon franchise is make a successful transition from 2D to 3D without cutting out some of the fundamentals which made the handheld outings so appealing. Well, Disney Interactive has beaten Nintendo to the punch and made Origins every bit as enjoyable as its DS counterparts. Everything from battling enemies and leveling up Spectrobes, to finding items and excavating fossils has successfully been integrated into this 3D world.

Battles occur in real-time and see the players fight along side their Spectrobe. Krawl opponents will appear randomly when exploring fields, and there is a slight pause to allow your adult Spectrobe to come out. From there, you can command the critter by waving the Wii remote vertically to attack or horizontally for it to return to your side. You can also target specific opponents by holding the C button and pointing at them with the Wii remote, though occasionally the game appears to have trouble registering which one you have selected when there are multiple enemies on-screen. Meanwhile, you can swing melee weapons by pressing the A button, and also coordinate combos with your Spectrobe by stringing together commands. Additionally you can alternate between Spectrobes completely on the fly by holding down the Z button, and even unleash special attacks. It’s all integrated well, and because there are so many mechanics to consider you’re constantly on your toes.

Another similarity the series has to Pokémon is the different elemental attributes of each Spectrobe. A fire Spectrobe, for instance, is more effective against a plant Krawl. This also carries over to the weapons your character can use during battle, but most of the time the system isn’t utilised to its full potential due to weak opponents. And that is perhaps the combat’s greatest weakness – enemies are considerably easy to defeat and at times it almost entirely comes down to mindless button mashing. Boss battles manage to liven things up a little, but otherwise it can feel mundane if you’re a heavy RPG player.

Be careful, there might be a Spectrobe in this ordinary looking rock.

Be careful, there might be a Spectrobe in this ordinary looking rock.
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Obtaining new Spectrobes has been integrated via a short mini-game. While playing in the field you will notice sparkles on the ground, which indicates there’s a hidden item. You’ll need to use a Child Spectrobe to dig the items up, which range from crystals that increase Spectrobe attributes, to fossils. The fossils contain dormant Spectrobes, and you’ll need to clear away the dirt and rock before you’re able to awaken them. You’ll have access to tools such as bombs, drills and lasers, all of which you must use strategically to avoid damaging the fossil. Although fossil excavating is a relatively simple feature, it’s actually quite fun and provides a nice break between puzzle solving and battling.

The fossils generally contain Child Spectrobes which are used for exploration purposes. As mentioned, they can dig up items but are also used to open doorways. Elemental attributes again play a major role in puzzle solving, as some barriers can only be broken by specific elemental Spectrobes. Also, because these tasks are limited to Child Spectrobes, it forces you to balance out your team and makes you think twice before evolving a Spectrobe into its adult form for the sole purpose of battle.

Unfortunately, in terms of art direction and style, the Spectrobes universe has always screamed generic. Characters sport a stylised anime look, and while the bright colours and wacky catchphrases will appeal to children, it’s almost enough to turn away adults completely. Environments are surprisingly detailed and feel very large compared to other Wii games on the market, with a notable example being the central town of Wyterra which is full of buildings and people walking about. The music and sound effects won’t be winning any awards, but they get the job done and blend in with the overall style.

Looks like Spyro the Dragon makes a cameo appearance.

Looks like Spyro the Dragon makes a cameo appearance.
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Although it has a few faults, Spectrobes Origins is a competent action RPG. The gameplay is fun and there is considerable depth to the combat system for those who want to take advantage of it. The generic anime visuals and soundtrack may turn some adults away, but children and existing fans will find appeal in the detailed and colourful environments, and stylised characters.
The Score
A competent action RPG that will appeal directly to children and existing Spectrobes fans. The generic anime visuals and predictable story will put off some hardcore RPG gamers, but those who give it a go will become immersed in the fun combat systems and addictive monster collecting scenario.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Spectrobes: Origins Content

Spectrobes: Origins announced
21 Feb, 2009 And it won't be heading to the Nintendo DS.
Spectrobes: Beyond The Portals Review
11 Mar, 2009 It's like a black hole of average.
Spectrobes Review
14 Mar, 2007 Pokemon should be worried.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  14/10/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Madman Interactive (Funtastic)
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2009

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