Review: Spectral Force 3

Matthew Olcese | 18 Sep 2008 16:50
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Strategy games and I have a shaky history. It's the micromanagement of resources really; I do not find that particular mechanic fun at all. Classics of the genre like Command and Conquer, StarCraft, and The Sims have continually failed to entice and engage me in any kind of extended play. That being said, I should note that one my favorite role-playing games is Vandal Hearts; a great combination of strategy, role-playing, and intricate storytelling, the game rocked my 16-year-old socks off. I did not expect an on-par playing experience from the recently-released Spectral Force 3, but I was optimistic for something similar or at least as intricate a story-telling experience.

What I can say for sure is that I did not play a bad game. Spectral Force 3 is one of those titles where nothing is particularly bad or poorly done, just utterly mediocre. Spectral Force 3 is fun at times, not uniformly, but far from a total wash.

Sometimes the horrible aspects of the game even contribute to moments of undiluted fun. One of the worst, and I use this term loosely, features of the game is the English translation of the story, which is then doubly hampered by (should really be "boosted by") the deplorable voice-acting. It's that terrible. The story makes no sense, so little sense in fact that I am inclined to believe it would not even make sense if I could read and understand the story in its original Japanese. Regardless of whether or not this rambling narrative makes any sense, it's the voice-acting that sells it. If characters aren't completely wooden, they're hilariously over the top. But the kicker is the sound effects.

Before the first (tutorial) battle, the party encounters gigantic insects and some floating puffer fish, a Jigglypuff amalgam. It's quite terrifying. Really. The bees make a buzzing noise (obviously) and the "Jiggly-puffer" makes some kind of odd throaty noise, but these noises aren't made by sound effects technicians --they made by actors. An actor says "buzz" while holding out the 'z' like a child would when imitating a bumblebee. Some other actor kind of rumbles or clears his throat or does something to produce some god-awful noise that a professional sound editor thought would be a good idea to include in a not-budget-priced-title. I can't complain too much though, as it gave me the best laugh I'd had all week.

At this point I was actually (as bad as the voice-acting was, it kept the tone of the game light and fun) excited to play this game. My hopes were that it would turn out to be an unappreciated gem.

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