The Spectral Force series has had quite the interesting run in North America. None of the titles released have been all that popular, and even it’s spinoffs have seen little success. Spectral Souls on the PSP was almost unplayable, and only four people even know there’s a Spectral game on Xbox 360. It’s been a rough few years for the little series, but now there’s a new game on the DS looking to turn things around.
Spectral Force: Genesis is the latest in the lineup of strategy RPGs. This time around it’s on the Nintendo DS, and takes advantage of the touch screen. But is it any better than its mediocre counterparts? Let’s take a look at the HOTs and NOTs of Spectral Force Genesis.
This has got to be one of the most intense RPG experiences on the DS to date. This game does not fool around and it will eat you alive if you aren’t ready. There’s a lot going on here, so I’ll briefly cover all the aspects of the gameplay. You start by picking a nation, then it’s your job to conquer other nations, form alliances, and overall take over enough territory so that you can bring peace to the land. You’ll have to make very strategic decisions, like when and when not to tax. What resources to invest in, and what to trade for. You’ll have to deal with both domestic and foreign affairs, since no war is won alone. Finally, you’ll have to know when, who and how to attack other nations. Sometimes it’s best just to loot, and sometimes its best to try and talk things out peacefully, and persuade them onto your side. It helps to scout out generals from other nations, because they can aid you in forming alliances.
I’m serious, these are all things you have to consider, and choices you have to make while playing this game. It’s a nice blend of strategy RPG, RTS, and war sim. Rash decisions will leave you with little resources and few friends, but play your cards right and you’ll be controlling the continent in no time.
There’s not much to say about the controls, because the majority of this game is spent simply making selections and navigating menus. You can use the D-pad and buttons, or the touch-screen and stylus. The only time the D-pad doesn’t work is during battle scenes. You move your units around by selecting them, then drawing out a path using the stylus on the map. Activating special attacks, magic, etc are all done using the stylus, so the game makes use of the DS hardware well, though is limited because of it’s gameplay style.
The sound is pretty good. The soundtrack is ok, nothing all that memorable. The best sounds however come from battles. The sounds of war are well done, with people yelling, swords clanging, and spells being casted. It sounds just as well when you’re storming a wall to take it down and take over a territory.
I like the art design in this game, both character portraits and in game graphics. The sprites are well animated, vibrant, and colorful. Everything looks good, and when you’re actually in a battle, everything pops off the screen and looks good. The only dissapointment is that this game is so menu based, I’d like to see more of the sprites and battle animations.
Menus menus menus
For all the positives this game has, it’s biggest flaw has to be how much of the gameplay is based in navigating menus and making selections. 90% of the game is spent clicking through different menus and making choices. Tax, or don’t tax, draft more troops here, or take some away from there. Everything you do is done in menus except for the battles themselves, and even those will sometimes have you navigating through menus. This game looks good during the battle sequences, so it feels a bit wasteful that so much of the players time is spent reading text and making selections on a bland menu screen, rather than duking it out on a battlefield.
Not for beginners
This is NOT for someone unfamiliar with the genre. While the game does a nice enough job of explaining itself through various different tutorials, all of which can be accessed at any time from the options menu. This is an intense game and is not for someone who’s new to RPGs. There’s a lot going on and a lot to keep track of, I’m not sure if a more casual RPG gamer would find much fun in a game that’s so involved.
Story is hard to follow at times
There’s a lot going on here, so much so that the story can sometimes get lost in the mix. I had a hard time following the storyline, and I’ll admit that I eventually gave up and played simply for the gameplay. Those looking for a more story-driven game may not appreciate this one, because the story takes a backseat to gameplay here. In a nutshell there were 3 gods that control the world. For a long time they were able to maintain peace, but mankind is driven to fight amongst itself. After three great wars, the empress of the Neverland Empire and the General of the New Shinba Empire made a truce. However that truce didn’t last and once again the world has been thrown into warfare. Who will be victorious? What will become of the empires? That’s your story, not much more is given or explained.
Can be a bit Boring
Yes, this game is intense. It has a lot to offer and plenty of things to do. Despite all that, it can get tedious. The constant menu navigation can wear thin after a while, and it takes a long time for your choices to even really feel like they are making an effect on the rest of the world. This game takes a long time to get into and to get going, if you don’t go in with that in mind you will quickly find yourself losing focus.
Overall, Spectral Force: Genesis is a great game for those looking for something very indepth. It has a lot to offer in terms of gameplay and strategy, and isn’t something you can just breeze through in a couple of days. This game takes time to play, beat, and master. You’ll constantly second guess yourself, and won’t be able to truly feel relief until the game is over. However, anyone looking for a more casual RPG experience should probably steer clear, this is not a game for the inexperienced.