When the original Spectrobes came out a couple of years ago, I’m sure Disney were hoping the game would rival Pokémon in terms of the ‘collect a cute character, train it up, let it evolve and then make it fight for you’ factor. Unfortunately, whilst the game had some good ideas, it lacked that bit of spit and polish to make it a truly great game. Well, now the sequel is here in the form of Beyond the Portals and I’m pleased to say this one’s at least better than the original. That’s not to say it’s a must-but title either – listen up and decide in a couple of minutes whether it’s still for you.
Beyond the Portals follows on from where the last game left off. Once again you play as Rallen, this time a few months after you defected The Krawl. Unfortunately, they’ve woken up again as the more powerful High Krawl and so you must visit a number of planets to stop them, using your Spectrobes to help you. Of course, near the beginning of the game, all your Spectrobes are lost, so you have to set about finding new ones. You do this by walking round the game world and getting your infant Spectrobe to scan the area. You can then dig up fossils using the touch screen. This ‘dig ‘em up’ gameplay is actually quite fun and hasn’t changed much from the original, although there are now different planet surfaces to dig through. New tools can be bought to help dig up fossils underwater or ones trapped in ice.
Once you’ve dug up your fossil, you can bring it to life at your spaceship and feed it to make it evolve. They also evolve in combat but this new, faster way of levelling them up means you don’t have to keep fighting in the game just to become powerful enough to beat a boss.
Unfortunately, combat’s not great. Fighting as Rallen you can use melee attacks or your gun, but locking onto enemies is tricky when the camera’s not centred on them. Fighting with your Spectrobes is really boring. By walking into a Vortex, you set your tag team into motion, but combat is no more than walking up to an enemy and pressing A, then pressing B or Y when you’re charged up a super move. It’s clunky, unresponsive and dull.
Exploration isn’t great either. Although they’ve improved the camera angle to make it less claustrophobic, there’s still a lot of back-tracking to do, and if you die, you start back at your ship and have to wander through the barren lands once again.
There’s plenty of Spectrobes to collect and train and this is going to be the highlight for any gamer who likes this collecting style gameplay – it’s just a pity the adventure side of things isn’t as fun as Pokémon. The game looks good with all its new-fangled 3D, but unfortunately, graphics do not a go0d game make. Spectrobes gets an average 5 out of 10.
Related: Pokemon, Chrono Trigger review