Spectral Force Genesis Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
Nintendo DS
Release date:
March 12th, 2010
Publisher:
Ignition Entertainment
Developer:
Idea Factory
Players:
Genre:
Strategy RPG
ESRB:
T

Spectral Force Genesis

World domination shouldn't be this dull.

Review by Stew Shearer (Email)
April 3rd 2010

Initially, I didn't get why they called it Spectral Force Genesis. As a title, it was mediocre and just poorly thought out. Having now played it through, the developers might be more clever than you'd think, because it suits the game perfectly. Both sound okay on paper, but make little sense in execution. For certain, there are some good ideas to be found here, and had the developers made even a few choices differently it might have been enjoyable. Instead what they've done is craft a dull, befuddled mess that succeeds only in providing another black mark against the oft derided SRPG genre.

Essentially a game of world domination, the gameplay is something of a different, simpler take on Civilization. You pick a nation, and set about conquering the world. You can appoint advisers, form alliances, and of course invade your neighbors. That said, this version of that concept is much more streamlined. Each new game plays out in rounds that represent the months of the year. Each month you can only perform one task picked by the computer. You might spend one month managing your economy and drafting soldiers, another dealing with politics, and then another going to war. It's a novel approach that actually does make things a bit more manageable at times. When you only have one thing to worry about at a given time, you can generally do it better.

That said, many of the tasks are dreadfully dull. You have entire months devoted to relatively simple tasks like appointing advisers, when really it's something you'll probably only ever have to do once. More problematic is that the tasks you have to do each month are decided at random. There's no order dictating what you'll be doing next, and you can even end up doing the same thing several months in a row. The economy and warfare are easily the most interesting parts of the game, but you'll often have to go through five or six rounds of something boring before earning a few moments of the good stuff. Had things been set up more predictably, with one type of activity always following another in a fixed pattern, the game would have been far more enjoyable.

The problems extend beyond that. Despite being the best part of the game, combat is still poor. You have generals with whom you can build armies. When a battle starts, you can position them at certain points around the map. You guide them around the battlefield with your stylus until they run into an enemy army, and then duke it out. In theory, the combat is based around a rock-paper-scissors system, but really the bigger army will almost always win. Special abilities make an appearance, but numbers are key. In short, it makes a mockery of the idea of strategy. Other elements like alliance building are utterly underdeveloped. All they seemingly do is keep people from attacking you, while you are free to break them, free of consequence at any time.

Despite falling more along the lines of a turn-based strategy game, Spectral Force Genesis looks like most every JRPG you've seen on the DS. Anime-style avatars are all over the place, as are super-deformed, cutesy sprites. The game is by no means ugly, but it takes the beaten path, and does it with less style then many games that came before it. The sound is equally forgettable. The music isn't poor, but it does nothing special, and generally fades into the background.

When it comes to strategy and Spectral Force Genesis, your best move would be to avoid the game entirely. As nice as it is to see a game -sort of- in the SRPG category trying something new, you'd honestly be better off playing another rip off of Final Fantasy Tactics. Good ideas don't make good games alone, and for all the ideas that Spectral Force Genesis has, not a one of them is executed with any sort of worthwhile quality.

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