Spectrobes review

  • Innovative monster hunting
  • Excellent use of touchpad and mic
  • Spectrobes look pretty cool
  • Clunky fighting
  • Lack of charm
  • Shouting at your DS in public

Spectrobe /spek trõb/ n. 1 fossilized creature awakened by the power of yelling, featuring three evolutionary stages and ready for a lifetime of battling servitude. 2 a bit like Pokémon. 3 but it’s not. 4 honest.

It’s impossible to describe monster-collecting titles without Pikachu and chums appearing and dancing a jig on your mental cogs - and it’s a smug jig at that, the jig of a self-satisfied franchise that knows it rules the gaming roost and refuses to evolve as a result of it. Well, along comes Spectrobes - ready to smack the jigging fool in the face with its own rhythm stick.

Instead of dull Pokéball lobbing, spectrobes must be excavated in fossilized form - resembling copper dog feces - by using drills, solvents and explosives mapped to the stylus. In a particularly nice touch, excess rock dust can be cleared away by blowing into the DS mic. The game is pretty generous with the amount of accidental whackage a fossil can sustain but the archaeology is quite fun in a Tony Robinson sort of a way.

Awakening fossils is achieved by speaking into the mic and maintaining a particular sound level, ranging from low telephone stalker-style heavy breathing to loud yelping and/or screaming. Needless to say, this isn’t a game that’s well-suited to public transport.

As children, spectrobes can snuffle around for potential archaeological sites - but to evolve them into killing machines they must be fed and nurtured in an incubator. What monster crawls out of the incubator at the end depends largely on what minerals you feed it, and which fellow spectrobes it’s incubated with - there’s huge depth for customization, ideal for forming a battling team for some Wi-Fi smackdowns with pals.

Unfortunately the battle format itself is more Pokéwrong than Pokémon; with limited monster attacks, slightly clumsy collision detection and players directly controlling a monster-commanding human as opposed to the beasts. And although they’re fully realized in 3D, the spectrobes are seriously lacking in that patented Poké charm. Spectrobes improves on plenty of Pokémon features, but not ‘em all.

More Info

Release date: Mar 15 2007 - DS (US)
Mar 16 2007 - DS (UK)
Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Disney Interactive Studios
Developed by: Jupiter Corporation
Franchise: Spectrobes
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Fantasy Violence
PEGI Rating:


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