A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that combat is integral to the game, but it is always the "good guys" (Rallen and the Spectrobes) vs. the "bad guys" (invading aliens called Krall). Rallen uses a sword and gun, and the Spectrobes have various fantasy-based attacks like fireballs or claws. There's no blood or gore. There is an online element to Beyond the Portals. Players can trade Spectrobes through a local connection, or use WiFi to battle players from their Friends or buy and sell Spectrobes for sale on a global marketplace by setting price and sale length. The game also supports Disney's DGamer online features that let players unlock costumes and achievements.
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What's it about?
It didn't receive rave reviews, but Disney's monster-breeding role-playing game Spectrobes was certainly enough of a hit with gamers to justify a sequel: SPECTROBES: BEYOND THE PORTALS. The story is set a few months after the first game, when it's discovered that the evil alien Krawl, thought to have been repelled by Planetary Patrol officers Rallen and Jeena, have returned and are stronger and smarter than before. They've also destroyed the lab, so all the Spectrobes (otherworldly creatures who are good at battling the Krawl) and fossils you collected in the first game have been destroyed.
There are 185 Spectrobes to collect, which is done by scanning the ground for fossils, digging them up, awakening them in the lab, and feeding them minerals (which are also dug up) to grow them into adults. Different planetary surfaces require different digging techniques and tools, such as using a flamethrower to melt ice, or a vacuum to suck up water. Before you can scan an area, you have to clear it of Krawl through live-action combat. First, players fight their way through the Krawl Dust using Rallen, then jump into the Vortex and unleash their Spectrobes to battle against the Krawl themselves.
Is it any good?
Spectobes: Beyond the Portals is similar to playing Pokemon games, in that taking the correct Spectrobes into battle is key. (Red Spectrobes, for example, are strong against green Krawl, but weak against blue Krawl). However, as was the case in the first Spectrobes game, there isn't enough for Rallen to do – he spends all his time fighting Krawl Dust.
The icon-based menus can be overwhelming at times, and the environments are still pretty basic. But although there's still room to improve, the gameplay of Beyond the Portals is less repetitive and more enjoyable than the first game thanks to a more fleshed out story, various small touches and improvements, and better balance between combat and excavation.
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