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Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals DS Review

08/02/2009 Family Eclectic Gamer Review
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Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals DS

Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals



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From the beginning this game promised to be entertaining - it's Disney after all! It wasn't long though before I realised that this wasn't going to be my cup of tea. It was flash and colourful but the formula (linear adventure game) did not appeal to me.

OK, so I'm no expert at these things, but there is something fiendish about this game and the idea behind it. I began with enthusiasm as the back story sounded quite novel. Once I had got through the intro I began to feel a bit bogged down. But my enthusiasm soon turned to huffing and eye-rolling as I began to wade through conversations between the in-game characters. I may have missed the first Spectrobes outing and needed some background, maybe I should sit and listen.

The characterisations and the way their cartoon counterparts popped up for conversations reminded me a little of Advance Wars: Dual Strike.

The characterisations and the way their cartoon counterparts popped up for conversations reminded me a little of Advance Wars: Dual Strike. I'd have to say I found the late-pubescent spiky haired hero and heroine a bit tiring and a bit stereotypical. There was only so much ‘A pressing' and speed-reading I could take. Finally I was dropped on a space station in which I first learnt to - move forwards. Please note I had been ‘playing' the game for at least 10 minutes before this basic movement was revealed to me!

I then learnt (after more dialogue and button pressing) how to fight using various weapons. The whole idea of locking my weapons onto my enemy was not too clear. My enemies were a bit daft looking as well - swirly vortices (NOT vortexes as stated in the game), round and colourful. They made me think of Rover from The Prisoner as they bounced into me and stunned my little animated counterpart.

The story is essentially linear with a map to show you where you are and where you should be going (remember, if you whizz through conversations you might miss where you're supposed to be next - thank goodness pressing X takes you to the mission screen!).

I was playing a Disney version of Pokemon.

I got a bit frustrated with it being linear because I like to explore. I was a bit miffed when my character kept telling me I couldn't go THAT way because it was an emergency exit or some such excuse. In other words - the game can't take you down there yet!

So, the story plodded on and tried to explain to me just what Spectrobes were. And the more I saw, the more I began to wonder if I was playing a Disney version of Pokemon (this being the fiendish part I mentioned earlier). Firstly, my spectrobes fight other creatures and have stats at the end of the fights. Secondly, they have special moves, thirdly there are shops to buy stuff!

Spectrobes also have the ability to find stuff in the ground which I then have to dig out. The training for the mining part of the game was not very clear. I failed majestically on my first turn trying to dig a crystal out of the rocks beneath me. There is a little gauge to show your progress into the layers. But when you hit certain parts of the pyramidal crystals it makes a nasty ‘glass-breaking' noise, which denotes that you are damaging it. The crystal has a damage bar and if you are too clumsy (like me) you won't do too well. Rock extraction is done with the stylus, and after the second attempt I began to understand what it was I was supposed to do - be careful.

After leaving to make a cup of tea I returned to the game. By this point I found my head nodding to the music. But then I realised that it was a bit irritating, as was the noise that the game made when characters were talking to each other. I was a bit disappointed that they hadn't thought of making it an option to turn either of these sounds off. So I had to turn it down.

My husband asked me at this point if our six year-old would still be playing this far in, if I handed him the DS.

My husband asked me at this point if our six year-old would still be playing this far in, if I handed him the DS. I had to be frank - possibly. But then again our son was addicted to Pokemon Pearl (we had to remove it in the end!) and he was also a big fan of Advance Wars: Dual Strike.

I personally would not be pursuing this game any further. I gave it a good chance - which was enough of my life! I felt that the conversational parts between actual game-play were over-long. There was no fun in doing all that reading when all I actually wanted to do was shoot things - which was the initial impression the game gave.

Advice to Disney: Stick to making fuzzy-wuzzy animations and games like Disney Friends (says 3+ on the box but also appeals to big kids too). Oh, and don't try to add anything else to the Pokemon clone empire.

Written by Clare Sharpe

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Clare Sharpe writes the Eclectic Gamer column.

"I think it's probably true that most of us have grown up with computer games - I have a dark and distant memory of some sort of black box with two controllers that allowed us to play an extremely primitive and pixelated game of tennis."

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