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Spectra – Review

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The terms 8-bit racing and music game have barely, if ever, been put together throughout my gaming life and so that makes one of the newest Xbox One games, Spectra, a bit of a rare breed. Will this music-based racing game deliver a delightful modern day throwback to the arcade racers of old from which it was inspired? Or has the recent 8-bit rejuvenation been overused too much now?

Out of the two, Spectra has managed to be more of a musical delight and in fact the 8-bit part, even the racing bit to a degree, tends to fade into the background. Anyway, let me explain the idea of the game; you’re in control of a nifty little ship that’s travelling at speed down an intricate ribbon of light in time and space, whilst trying to survive its twists, turns and obstacles that could send you over the edge into nothingness until the musical track runs its course.

There are ten tracks in total, each with up to three stars available to be earnt depending on how far you get through each one. Although the musical track lengths vary and the amount of incoming pink obstacles are increased, generally, each level looks the same. The layouts however change every time you start a fresh attempt on a track which is useful if one layout ends up giving you a bit of trouble.

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It can be quite tricky to navigate your way to the end of a track but the enticement of yellow block pickups can be the ultimate downfall. These are one of the main ways to add to your score tally and it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth sneaking through a tricky pack of obstacles to pick them up or just to coast around towards the finish. Points earned can be increased by driving over the boost markers which will increase your score multiplier by one each time for a short period of time. Sadly unless you’re after achievements then there isn’t much point aiming for high scores due to a strange lack of online leaderboards. There is no competing to beat friends’ scores or even pitting your skills against the world and I’ve absolutely no idea why that is.

Your reactions will be seriously tested throughout as the pace of the tracks increase and so a rather intense level of focus is needed. A focus that becomes a trance thanks to the original soundtrack composed by Chipzel. The sounds take you way back to feeling like you’re in a 90s arcade, where the music is on that fine line between enthralling and annoying. All ten musical tracks have a certain uniqueness between each other and these make Spectra have substance where there is very little else.

After playing all of the ten levels, which could all be unlocked within half an hour, the only other thing left to do is play them all in Hardcore mode. As you can guess this means they are tougher, but only in the sense of obstacle amounts and their placement. Here you’ll be doing the slightest of twitches on the analog stick to avoid incoming pink obstacles, sneaking through the tiniest of gaps and probably not bothering with trying to get a decent score. Instead you’ll just want to make it to the end in one piece!

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Spectra definitely offers a pick up and play experience that, despite its simple concept, can hook a player in once you’ve started a level till its end; and that is thanks mainly to its soundtrack. Going through the tracks can fly by and maybe that leads me to the issue of not having enough to do. Chances are that you’ll race yourself over the edge quite a lot throughout but it never feels frustrating, which is a bonus.

Considering the relatively low price tag, there is just about enough enjoyment and play time to warrant a purchase of Spectra.

James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.

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8 years ago

[…] By James () […]

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