Regardless of the combat dragging a bit, Disney has done well treating us to a strangely engaging game.

User Rating: 7.7 | Spectrobes DS
In Spectrobes you play as Rallen, an officer of the Planetary Patrol. One day, Rallen and his partner Jeena receive a distress signal from a planet and find an escape pod with a scientist in cryogenic sleep inside. When he finally wakes up, they learn of an attack by some creatures known as the Krawl. The man also tells them about the Krawl's enemies, the Spectrobes, creatures long extinct but still dormant in the form of fossils.

Equipped with this new gadget called a Prizmod that allows him to battle alongside with two Spectrobes, Rallen sets out to find enough Spectrobes so he can have a chance at stopping the Krawl from destroying other planets. With the help of Jeena and Aldous' knowledge, what follows is a strange investigatory and archaeological adventure.

With a Spectrobe attached to his Prizmod, Rallen can use it to search the ground for minerals and fossils. You walk around and tap the Spectrobe to activate the scanning process. If something is near, the Spectrobe jumps around and you will see shining spots. Depending on the color of the glow, you can tell what's buried: yellow/orange is a fossil, blue is a mineral, glittery is a cube.

Your stylus becomes your digging kit, with drills of different sizes to excavate whatever you find. But you have to be careful not to break whatever it is you have found. There's a gauge that shows the damage done to the object and a stress gauge that shows the pressure of the tool on the object (keep it as low as possible). To dig out something, you must have uncovered 95% of the object. Fossils can be taken to the ship's lab to be awaken. The awakening process is quite funny, especially for other people who may be watching you at the time. You launch a fossil into the chamber and you must use your voice and keep the volume between the brackets or past the mark during three seconds.

From there, you can place your child Spectrobes in the incubator, where you can feed it minerals. Minerals come in different shapes and colors, and each has its own properties. Spectrobes will evolve to adult after a certain time in the incubator. Feed them and check back periodically to see if they can evolve (there will be a glitter above them). Tap the Spectrobe with the stylus and you will see it in a sort of cocoon. Tap the cocoon to reveal the evolved Spectrobe.

Cubes are very special items that give your game bonus features. Think of it as a sort of unlockables, you will only have certain things in your game if you find the right cube for it. Some cubes allow you to attach custom parts to your Spectrobe, to evolve past adult form, to change the terrain in the incubator and others add extra features such as DS Wireless Play. Any cubes you find, bring them to Aldous and he will identify it for you.

The wi-fi system will appear in the lab after you've handed the cube to Aldous. There are two features in the wi-fi system, download and upload. The Download feature lets you use points to "purchase" videos, Spectrobes, minerals and custom parts. The Upload feature lets you upload your Sequence Battle scores from the Great Black Holes on the different planets. After all the complexity of digging, awakening, evolving and whatnot, you have a very simple yet awkward combat system. Your Prizmod can accommodate two adult Spectrobes that will fight with you, and four others that will offer support properties. While Rallen is for the most part useless to fight, the Spectrobes do their job at kicking some Krawl ass. You move with the D-pad and attack with the left and right triggers, depending on which Spectrobe you want to do the attack. You pretty much use Rallen to position the Spectrobes and face the way you want them to attack.

Graphically, the game is very well done. The environments are colorful, the character art is great and the Spectrobes and Krawl have very interesting monster designs. The sound is also excellent, particularly the soundtrack, and the dialogs are well-written and tell a good story.

Regardless of the combat dragging a bit, Disney has done very well treating us to a very engaging game. It's originally strange, there is a lot to do in it (which is great for the completist in all of us) and will keep anyone busy for quite a while, as long as they have the patience to excavate here and there every so often. Review text part of Full text, screens and mini-guide at: