Something doesn't quite compute with Spectrobes: Origins. Someone must have spilt a cup of tea over the blueprints for the game. Clearly, videogame law states that games aimed at kids cannot be i) fun or ii) involving. Moreover, if said game features collectable monsters which are conducive to beating large groups of enemies, these must be irritating at all times and, to the main extent, pointless.
Some key letters of the document must have had something slopped on them because Origins is, to the main extent, fun and involving and the collectible monsters are, generally, pretty useful. Not only that, but some of the team plainly kept going after the hooter went to get the game looking as nice as can be. If they'd done that on some Saturday night game show they'd have been booted off and no mistake. Come to think if it, if they'd done that on some other videogames they'd have been sacked.
Games aimed at a younger demographics are supposed to be throwaway affairs and cheap and cheerful (though sometimes the latter is too much to ask). Origins has all the ingredients required for its target audience, but there's a pleasing sense of craftsmanship about everything. If this was a car, the door would shut not with a slam, but with a thunk. The controls work, everything looks very pretty, and the combat is varied and full of numerous options. Disney's game is a standalone effort; there's no licence weighing it down, no films or TV series to impose unrealistic deadlines and ruin quality control by slimming down the staff, so a little more care can be taken.
Origins is definitely a mainstream game. The story and characters are generic and rather insipid at least to older gamers; a boy and girl rocket through the galaxy discovering new worlds and new Spectrobes, battling evil monsters along the way. Everything's designed to work with the minimum of fuss, so that means it all borders on the too-simple. It's fair enough given the target audience, just as long as you don't expect a 100-hour plus RPG epic.
Full Spectrobe Warrior
The A button handles general slicing and dicing with whatever weapon is in-hand, while movements of the Wii Remote unleash more powerful charged attacks. With your Spectrobe alongside, you can also dive into the action. The Spectrobe can work on its own or combine with you for even bigger pay-offs. Whichever Spectrobe you have working alongside you has a set of elemental strengths and weaknesses which will come to the fore against a certain type of enemy, so this is where the need to collect and nurture as many of them as you can comes into its own. If you have a ready-made army of every kind of elemental combination waiting back in your spacecraft, you've all the back-up you need for any situation.
There's a real RPG element to the action, which will improve both your character and your Spectrobe, and without realising it you'll be improving stats thanks to the compelling nature of the battling. You can take command of your Spectrobe to send him ferreting about for hard-to-reach switches or items, but deep down, getting into real-time scraps is what Origins specialises in. There's little in the way of puzzling or real exploration, which is a bit of a shame given the quality of the world created. But when you've a super-powerful move which involves crossing the Nunchuk and Remote over so that your arms resemble an X, before pushing outwards, creating a massive explosion, that pales into the background. The Wii's controls are integrated neatly in Origins, and are generally made good use of - we get to say that surprisingly less than you'd think. Origins is a serious shock to the system then, but a very pleasant one. So we'll chuck the thoroughly bored review we'd already imagined in the bin and ramp the score up 20 per cent.