|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Genki||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Disney Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 18, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
When the Spectrobes series burst on the scene several years ago, a comparison was instantly made to the wildly successful Pokémon franchise. Both series were made for handheld devices, and both featured collectible animals that could do battle. However, as the series matures, I think it is doing a good job of distinguishing itself from Pokémon. The most recent entry in the series, Spectrobes: Origins, does an excellent job of fleshing out the Spectrobes series as a whole, and it makes for an excellent console debut.
The story in Spectrobes: Origins finds our heroes Rallen and Jeena dispatched to investigate a strange energy reading in the far reaches of the universe. Although the two main characters find this a waste of their talent, we soon find out that all is not as it seems in this universe. Rallen and Jeena are then swept back through a portal where the past is the present! Although the story builds upon some key ideas from past titles, its time-shifting nature revisits important events from previous entries in the series, which is great for those who aren't familiar with the DS games.
Your adventure starts off with your party of two landing on a planet that finds itself under siege by the nefarious Krell. After responding to the planet's distress signal (and subsequently saving them from the Krell threat) you set off to explore several planets, each with their own landscape and, of course, Spectrobes.
For those new to the series, Spectrobes are tiny creatures that can be awakened from excavated fossils. Once awakened, these creatures can help you dig up other fossils, or can be evolved to fight your enemies. Like previous games in the series, Spectrobes: Origins has a heavy focus on the creature collection. You'll start off with three Spectrobes, but the game has more than 100 to collect, and your ability to scour each planet's landscape and look for fossils is paramount.
The excavation system itself has been much improved since the handheld version, and it is much more engaging in this entry. Fossil blocks are now rendered in three dimensions, and you can twist, turn, and zoom in on the block. To free the fossil from the block, you'll have to use special tools like a drill, hammer, and laser in order to remove the rock particles away so that the fossil can be examined. But you have to be careful! If you accidentally harm the fossil while removing the rock, you'll damage its life bar and it won't emerge at a high level.
One thing that I really enjoyed about the excavation aspect of Spectrobes: Origins was the control. You use the Wii-mote like a laser pointer, which allows you to pick up tools and interact with the rock by pointing the Wii-mote at the screen and then moving the tools where you need to use them. The excavation system here works a lot like Trauma Center and is surprisingly responsive.
However, even though the excavation portion of the game is fun, the real meat of the gameplay involves the fighting mechanics. Spectrobes: Origins falls quite firmly into the action RPG genre. You'll be able to walk up to enemies to trigger a fight, and from there you can use a weapon (like a broadsword or axe) to hack 'n slash your enemies. However, you will also need to use your Spectrobes in battle if you are looking to succeed.