I had the opportunity to speak with Buena Vista Interactive about their upcoming title Spectrobes for the Nintendo DS. Spectrobes is an original IP being developed by Jupiter Corp. in Japan. It’s an action RPG designed from the ground up to be a unique experience only available for the Nintendo DS.
Spectrobes will follow two Planetary Patrol Officers that go by the name of Rallen and Jeena. The objective in Spectrobes is to save the galaxy; a lofty task for our two protagonists. To make matters worse, nefarious enemies known as the Krawl hope to oppress Rallen and Jeena’s efforts. Such a task could only be accomplished with the assistance of the Spectrobe creatures. These creatures are an ancient, prehistoric race that must be excavated before being usable. Rallen and Jeena must excavate, train, and wield these Spectrobe creatures throughout their intergalactic endeavors.
Spectrobes is an action RPG title. As such, players will be able to see the Krawl enemies on the map, and decide accordingly if they would rather choose to fight, or clandestinely avoid an encounter. Spectrobes combat will all be done in real-time. During these real-time encounters, the player can have two selected Spectrobe creatures out along side them. From the look of things, combat seems to be fast paced and enjoyable.
Players will also be able to excavate Spectrobe creatures. This will make full usage of the Nintendo DS’ unique capabilities such as the touch screen and microphone. A variety of tools will be selectable for the player to employ to securely and accurately excavate the Spectrobe. In addition to this, the microphone can be used to blow off unwanted dust that comes as a byproduct of the excavation process. That’s a definite nice little touch; and it’s cool to see developers taking advantage of the microphone in distinct ways. In addition to Spectrobes; players will be able to excavate other minerals and items for their usage.
Spectrobes will utilize the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (as well as local wireless play) for a multitude of functions. This includes, one on one player matched battles, up to 16 player tournament style matches, and (a Nintendo Wi-Fi first I believe) downloadable content. Online battles will place players against an opponent, each wielding two chosen Spectrobe creatures as well their character. All combat is real-time as previously stated. Downloadable content will range from videos, to creatures, custom parts, and minerals. This content will be available by connecting to the Nintendo Wi-Fi service and remaining active in Spectrobes. For each day that passes, players will receive points that can be used to purchase the aforementioned content. All of these features will be facilitated through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Another engaging feature Buena Vista will host is a community based Spectrobes website. Players will be assigned a “planetary patrol badge” number upon their first successful connection on the Nintendo Wi-Fi service. This number can be synchronized with the players profile page on the community Spectrobes site. These profiles will offer viewable player-specific stats such as their Spectrobe creatures, armor, and weapons. This community page will also track a leader board for special battles featured in the game.
One of the more unique and exciting aspects that Spectrobes will incorporate is the use of trading cards. Each copy of Spectrobes will contain a pack of four trading cards. Additional trading card packs will be available for purchase after the game’s release. These cards can be used to unlock additional content including new items, minerals, or Spectrobes to benefit the player. The trading cards will be input into the system through a series of taps on the touch screen. How will such an action be processed? By placing the translucent trading card on top of the Nintendo DS touch screen. Each translucent card will have a specifically laid out diagram of cut outs for the player to tap the stylus into. This must be done sequentially to unlock the content available on the card. Of course, all of this data will be stored locally on the cartridge; it just needs to be properly unlocked before being available to the player. Buena Vista hopes that these trading cards will be another factor that differentiates Spectrobes from other DS titles available; as well as to promote card trading and collecting with friends and family members.
Spectrobes seems to be a game to watch for the Spring Nintendo DS releases. It’s scheduled to launch worldwide on March 13, 2007. We’ll have a full review once we receive our copy of the game.
Thank you to Tim FitzRandolph, Steven Dodson, Eric Wein, and Rannie Yoo of Disney for inviting us to attend this event and for providing us information regarding Spectrobes.