Fun to look at, but that's it.
The story is at least a little deeper than the average Pokemon-style game. You are Rallen, space cadet in the Nanairo system. You're assigned to investigate a mysterious crash, and find an old guy named Aldous. He figures out of a intergalactic menace called the Krawl, and they are deadset on the Nanairo system. At least I think that's how it started- it's been awhile since I played the game.
The story isn't too memorable. Like the majority of monster-fighters, the game is far from a story-driven experience. At times, the story seems a little overdone, like they wanted to incorporate it into the experience too much.
On the other end of the spectrum, at least it HAS a story.
First, the tracks aren't very atmospheric AT ALL, which really gets on my nerves. They seem to milk the same basic music formula OVER and OVER and OVER. Plus, the small variations are few and far between, often sporting identical music for literally an entire PLANET worth of gameplay.
On the other hand, the milked tracks are pretty cool. The rock music often gets you pumped for battle. Plus, the sound effects are a treat, and go awesomely with the game.
If Spectrobes has a high point, its the graphics. They are stellar from top to bottom. The entire game is presented in stunning 3d visuals- well, maybe not "take your breath away," but at least "wow, this is pretty good for a handheld." Environments are fairly well detailed, and the pixelation is negligible for this type of graphics. Pop-in can be an occasional issue, but other than that, the game looks pretty good.
But for all the story, all the sounds, all the graphics, a game cannot live on those alone. It must be fun, and the rest is just a side course. And Spectrobes has decent gameplay.
The battling is the biggest part of the game. It has several controls: the D-pad to move, B to switch Rallen's weapons, A to charge your power bar, allowing special moves and Geos, X to use Rallen's weapons, and L and R to control your Spectrobes. The combat is in full real-time, meaning you can dodge attacks as they come at you. It's pretty fun, but the camera is absolutely ATROCIOUS! The camera is not controllable at all, which might be okay if it wasn't out to get you. Frequently you will be hit by attacks that you couldn't see coming. Plus, the final boss is incredibly lackluster- I found him easier the the regular enemies in his stage.
The second part is exploration. The game gives you good-size worlds to roam about in, and eventually you'll come across minerals, fossils or cubes with the use of a Spectrobe. Leading us to the next part-
Excavation is a fun and rewarding little minigame. When you find a fossil, mineral or cube, you enter this minigame. You have to tap through rock, and then use tools to bring it out. One is the Drill L- it does the job quickly, but can do serious damage to the fossil. The smaller drills are slower, but don't do as much damage. The Giga tool lets you get any mineral or cube (I don't think it works for fossils) for free. BUT, you get no experience points this way, AND you have to have removed without Giga before. You can even blow on the screen to remove dust!
Awakening is where you revive fossils found in exploration. You talk into the DS microphone to a certain loudness, and must hold this for several seconds. When you do this, the Spectrobe hatches into child form. It is useful for finding new minerals, fossils and cubes, but can't fight. So we go to-
Incubation is where you feed Spectrobes minerals to pump up their stats. Each mineral does different things to their stats. Every time a bar maxes out, they level up. Meaning you can feed a Spectrobe with a high base attacks and feed it attack-boosting minerals for extra power! Once you do this, the Spectrobes can evolve into Adult, or even Evolved, form eventually.
Overall: 6.5 (Mediocre)
Spectrobes is a welcome treat for fans of the genre- but I really wouldn't recommend it to everyone. It's an average game, with ups and downs.