When Spectrobes was released in 2007, it was the first time that Disney Interactive Studios released a video game that was not based on a previous Disney TV series or movie. Spectrobes: Beyond the Portal continues Rallen and Jeena's spectrobe-collecting adventure, but Disney Interactive has made changes to the gameplay in hopes that the action will flow better this time around. We were able to check out all the single-player features for Beyond the Portal at the E3 Media & Business Summit this year, but Disney Interactive came by our GameSpot office to give us a closer look at the multiplayer features.
During the single-player campaign, you fight across nine different planets to find and excavate new spectrobes to add to your collection. You can use these spectrobes in multiplayer matches locally or online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. If there are spectrobes that you want from your friends, the option to trade is available so you can work on completing your collection. Spectrobes can be collected a variety of ways--not just by going through the single-player mode. When you purchase the game, it will come with these cool plastic cards that will either give you new spectrobes or items when you input a code. These cards are placed over the touch screen, and you tap through the holes in the cards to put in the right code. We were told that you can also import your spectrobes from the first game into Beyond the Portal as well.
Up to four players can participate in multicard play via Nintendo's local WFC. Whoever is hosting will be able to choose which maps to play on, but they're only available once you've played through that section. There are three modes of battle: One-on-one battle has you going head-to-head with an opponent, team battle has four players going at each other or as teams of two, and battle royal has everyone going in with one spectrobe, with the last one standing declared the winner. Normally, you'd go into a fight with two spectrobes where you'd control one and the computer AI controls the other. Fighting is done with the A button, and depending on your spectrobe, that will unleash a melee or long-range attack. There is a meter at the center of the touch screen, and when that is charged, the B button will fire off a charged attack. The Y button will allow you to perform a combo as long as your other spectrobe is still alive. If one of the spectrobes does happen to fall in battle, they are still on the field as an orb. You can revive them if you charge up your meter and hit the Y button by the orb--just make sure it's yours or you will have wasted a charge.
Your spectrobes will be one of three colors, and their strengths or weaknesses are set up similar to a rock-paper-scissors type of formation. It's a guessing game to see what your opponent is going to choose, but it will make a difference if you can get a spectrobe that has an advantage over the ones your opponent chooses. As you're fighting in the arena, you'll see a target reticle show up on an opponent. You can use the R button to lock on and the L button to cancel it. This helps keep your ammo focused on one opponent, especially if you're firing from far away and your spectrobe is a bit sluggish. Double-tapping on the touch screen will make your spectrobe dash or evade an oncoming attack. This should all be familiar if you've spent some time playing through the single player mode, so you can go in a multiplayer game and fight like a pro.
Using Nintendo's WFC, you can also access the marketplace where you can sell spectrobes or buy them from players around the world. Disney has mentioned that it will use this as an opportunity to give players more spectrobes or pre-leveled ones, as well as items and, perhaps, developer favorites. You can also upload all your in-game data to spectrobes.com, which will set up a player profile for you. It seems that Disney really wants to make this a community experience so all your details will go online, and there are global leaderboards for you to climb if you're so inclined. You can also compete as a squad, so there is a separate leaderboard for that as well. Your online profile will display awards and community awards that you've collected in the game; thus, players will have something to strive for by trying to the meet the goals that have been set on the site.
If you aren't familiar with DGamer, it's an online community for Disney players, which started when Prince Caspian was released. It's another way for players to communicate with one another and keep tabs on what games they've played. Everyone has an avatar, so you can customize your avatar with Rallen's outfit by completing Spectrobes: Beyond the Portal. Future Disney DS games will also take advantage of this feature.
So far, it seems that Spectrobes: Beyond the Portal has quite a bit to offer once you've completed the single-player campaign.