Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Action Games, RPG
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
2 player co-op
Nintendo Wi-Fi compatible
Spectrobes: Origins brings the successful Nintendo DS series to Wii for the first time with a new story that reveals secrets from the past through flashbacks of significant events. You will use the unique Wii controls to explore vast worlds, excavate three-dimensional fossils, and unravel an engaging story while discovering the key to preventing a galactic threat. While immersed in the universe as never before, you will fight enemies by controlling planetary patrol officer Rallen and commanding Spectrobe creatures at his side in large-scale, real-time battles. The game sports some new combat moves, intense 3D battles, new Spectrobes to collect, and enhanced excavation mini games. So how does the game fair on Nintendo’s next-gen console? Read on to find out.
The visuals in Spectobes: Origins are as good as any on Nintendo Wii. Even though the Wii maxes out at 480p the graphic quality is very apparent right from the get go. The pre-rendered cut-scenes scattered throughout the game really stood out for me as they are good quality and pretty lengthy. I was also impressed by the smooth textures and level of detail that I found in them. The in game visuals do take a few hits when playing, and there is considerably less detail in the environments than in the cut-scene environments, but they too are pretty pleasing to the eye and add to the game’s atmosphere.
One of the only notable miscues in the visuals for me was some occasional camera issues that can hamper your enjoyment of the game from time to time. Although the camera is fully mobile during regular battles and while exploring, it has a tendency to become fixed during boss battles, which can be very annoying. The camera can be become somewhat static and hinder your field of sight at just the wrong moment. It can be a very frustrating at times and it may make you want to throw your controller from time to time. That being said, some practice will actually help you compensate for the shortcoming, so be patient.
The games soundtrack, while not as memorable as the graphics, is still very serviceable and on occasion somewhat noteworthy. The background and underlying music is cheerful and bright. The mostly symphonic score is at times quite loud and brash, but it matches the game and the various situations perfectly. The voiceover work sounds great but it does become slightly repetitive the farther you get into the game, but that is just the nature of the beast. The sound effects really shine in the game as the clash of weapons and battles reverberate throughout. I noticed that almost all movements have their own sound. Whether it is your characters footsteps as you run to the growl/roar of some kind of enemy, the effects are quite engrossing and play into the story quite nicely.
The successful Spectrobes series on the Nintendo DS has made its way to the Wii, a progression that comes naturally for obvious reasons. Spectrobes: Origins on the Wii is a game that moves away from the slower-paced role-playing game to something more action and battle oriented. The new storyline continues to follow Rallen and Jeena and it is not necessary to have played any of the previous games to be able to enjoy this new Origins game. Fans and newcomers alike will learn secrets of the past and be able to explore a new solar system.
For those gamers that are new to the series, Spectrobes are tiny creatures that are brought to life from excavated fossils. Once these creatures are awakened they can help you dig up other fossils. They can also help you fight enemies that you face throughout your adventure. Like previous games in the series, but on the DS, Spectrobes: Origins has a heavy focus on the collection of said creatures. Upon commencing your adventure you will have three Spectrobes, but you can collect more than a 100 over the length of the game. The collection of these tiny organisms is quite an integral part of your adventure and most of your time will be spent looking for them.
The game’s excavation system has been greatly overhauled and improved over the Nintendo DS version, and to be honest it seems more enjoyable this time around. Veteran gamers will find the fossil blocks are now rendered in three dimensions; you can twist, turn, and zoom in on them with great detail. This makes things easier to identify and scrutinize. To extract the fossil from its confines, you will have to use tools like a drill, hammer, and laser. While removing the rock particles away so that the fossil can be examined you have to be extremely careful! If you accidentally hurt the fossil, you can damage its’ life bar and it won't emerge at a high level. This can be a fun exercise in itself but trying to be careful can be somewhat challenging especially if something like the fossil’s power is on the line. The other thing that I really enjoyed about the excavation aspect was the actual control. You use the Wii Remote like a laser pointer which allows you to pick up tools and interact with the rock by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen allowing you to move the tools where you need to use them. The excavation system here works a lot like the cool and inventive Trauma Center game, or for those who like board games, think Operation. To my surprise the control was very responsive and easy to figure out which made it quite enjoyable.
Overall the excavation portion of the game is fun, but the real meat of the gameplay is the various fighting mechanics and scenarios you will come across. Spectrobes: Origins falls quite nicely into the action RPG genre. In order to progress you will have to take on various enemies as you hack 'n slash your way through them. You also need to use your Spectrobes in battle if you are going to succeed. You can have up to five Spectrobes equipped at any one time, but you can only use them one at a time. When a Spectrobe is enlisted it will attack enemies under its own accord, but this can be a bit wasteful. Being a Spectrobe master gives you the ability to direct and focus their their attacks toward a certain enemy, or to engage a Spectrobe's special ability or attack. At first it may be tempting and easy to just let Spectrobes go off on an enemy all by themselves, but in the long run knocking the stuffing out of enemies strategically will lead to more efficient battles. The extra strategy in the battles will prep your Spectrobes for eventual bigger and longer boss battles.
The battle system in Spectrobes employs a simplistic elemental system, which encourages you to keep different types of Spectrobes equipped while in certain areas. It is kind of like a virtual game of paper, rock, scissors. For instance, if you are on a water-based planet you will want to keep several fire-based Spectrobes on hand so that you will have an advantage over the natives. This battle system leads to an easier time during your battles, and it teaches you how to manage your Spectrobes effectively and responsibly.
The combat in Spectrobes is not all as complex as you might think. After a few hours I was having a lot of fun with the the game mainly because of the gentle learning curve. It leads you as you get deeper into the game and you will learn how to be successful in battle. One aspect of Spectrobes that particularly impressed me was the control. I already mentioned the finer aspects of the control and its use in the excavation mode, but the control during battle is also put to good use. Spectrobes: Origins uses the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, and there is a nice balance between motion based and button-based control. This is best exemplified by the battle system. You can move around the battle field with the analog stick on the Nunchuk, and you can slash your equipped weapon with the A button. Simple and intuitive indeed.
Although all of your character's actions are predominately button orientated, the motion controls come into play when you are using your Spectrobe. The game uses an automatic targeting system, and if you want your Spectrobe to attack an enemy that has already been highlighted, all you have to do is flick your Wii Remote forward. You can also auto-target an enemy by using the C button on the Nunchuk. If you want to use a special attack, you can engage it with the B button, and then perform a series of motion-sensitive manoeuvres and gestures to charge it up (flicking, holding to charge, etc). Although there are a lot of motion control aspects to the battle system, everything works very well. I do not consider myself a Wii veteran, but I never really struggled with wiggling or waggling the Wii Remote and I never became frustrated with a flick of the wrist, which definitely made the experience very pleasant indeed. I must say that the game is one of the smoothest controlling games that I have played since the Wii’s inception.
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