Published on February 13th, 2013 | by Charlie Johnson0
Spirit Hunters Inc. Review
Release Date: November 22nd, 2012
Platform(s): 3DS e-Shop
Rating: E for Everyone
Ahh, the world of augmented reality, or AR for short. With the power of roughly 3 old-school Cray super computers in the palm of your hand and a couple of cameras attached to it, AR games are fast becoming a popular thing to make. Spirit Hunters Inc: Light, and its companion game, Spirit Hunters Inc: Shadow, aim to give their best effort in making things pop out of thin air on your screens. Do they succeed or should they also vanish into thin air? Let’s jump in and find out.
Spirit Hunters Inc starts you off by informing you that you are the newest recruit in their organization of Spirit Hunters, that hunt down and destroy rogue spirits that are hiding all around us all the time, we just can’t see them with our naked eyes. For that, you need a Scanner, and lo and behold, you have the device in your hands courtesy of your Nintendo DSi, DSi XL, 3DS, or 3DS XL, you just need the right software!
After loading you up with the right stuff, you then are required to pick your elemental alignment of choice. Choose wisely, as you won’t be able to change it again for a very long time. Once you have your starting alignment, it is time to go to work hunting down those pesky hidden spirits and kicking them across the room! If this sounds a bit like Ghostbusters, well it is. Kinda. Most people familiar with the Ghostbusters movies might know that the original concept of the films wasn’t that they were using technology to hunt ghosts, they were going to use magic. That’s right, magic. Well, you use magic spells and incantations to attack the nasty beasties on your screen by selecting them at the bottom of the touch screen and then taking the appropriate action to activate the chosen spell, be it poking, slashing, holding the stylus against the screen, or even drawing shapes (mainly circles). As you throw your attacks at the monsters, they, in turn, sling their own at you as well, knocking down your hit points. If you beat the baddy, the game awards you with experience points and the games currency, Ghoulders. If you took damage during battle, it recharges gradually over time until you are healed or go back into a battle. The game eventually reveals a bit of a story that is kind of obscure and pretty much non-existent other than to spur you along towards beating more spirits. Each attack also has a cooldown timer to keep you from spamming the most powerful attacks all the time.
The controls are almost all touchscreen based in that you attack by using the various motions of the stylus I described earlier. To find the hidden spirits, you look around the room finding various colors to draw out the variously aligned spirits hiding in them. Once the initial scan is complete, the spirits start to pop out of the surroundings. Since the game was made originally for the DSi, you must move the system slowly from side to side if the spirits clouds are off-screen as it uses the camera’s input for motion sensing instead of the accelerometers found in the 3DS and 3DS XL. This can get a tad tedious as the spirit may vanish before you get a chance to get its cloud on-screen. Once the cloud you want to identify is on-screen, you must tap it many times with your stylus to get it to pop out and start a fight. Yes, that’s right, you need to poke it in order to aggravate it enough that it wants to fight you. Also, the camera movement control tends to be a bit unresponsive in battle as well.
The graphics are relatively simple, yet very colorful. The spirits are varied in their shapes and patterns that conform to various “families” of spirit, so you will know if they belong to a specific group once they attack, or retaliate from you poking them with a stick (always a good idea to poke wild animals or spirits with a stick until you anger them), and even come in silver and gold variants to make it harder to destroy them all. This amounts to the spirit’s outline being gold or silver and their cloud having gold or silver sparks shooting out of it. Otherwise, the various different spirits are almost basically pallet-swaps of one another within the various families of spirits. Since the game takes up very little space, it stands to reason as to why this was done. The attacks you get to unleash upon these naughty little beasties are very vibrant and colorful as well and are designed to reflect the alignment of the attack that is being used.
The sounds and music are simple and in line with what you might find in an old NES or Game Boy game but do the job well considering the simple nature of the game itself and don’t distract very much during battles. The spirits even get to grunt and groan as they take their beatings at the courtesy of your stylus.
All in all, this game boils down to an AR Pokémon-meets-Ghostbusters mashup that is best enjoyed in small portions. I believe the game developers may have felt this as well, since the game gives you a ton of experience points every time you beat a spirit, making leveling up almost too easy. Since the game doesn’t tend to make it a grind to level up, the main challenge comes in getting the Ghoulders to buy new attacks and other supplies. Yet, that too is not hard to do.
Summary: With each version of the game having 6 unique critters all to themselves, the game tries a bit too hard sometimes to be a Pokémon copy while trying to stand out from the get ‘em all style RPG. In the end, I found myself wanting to put it down as much as I wanted to keep playing to get to the next level. The younger crowd will probably eat this up and the older gamers will find themselves wanting more substance.