Disclosure ‐ Mastertronic provided us with an early press copy of SPECTRA, for which we are truly thankful for!
Came for the game, stayed for the music…
Sometimes when playing games, you have to remember that every single one of them was created with a goal in mind. They were created to do exactly what they were meant to do, somewhat in the same way the saying: “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” goes. You can’t call Limbo bad because it’s not like The Witcher; you can’t call The Last of Us bad because it’s not like Spyro. Unfortunately, while beginning to play SPECTRA, I forgot to see it that way and to Gateway Interactive who made this game, I am very sorry.
SPECTRA is a very quick, retro-styled racing game against yourself and the oh-so good electronica music composed by the extremely talented Chipzel or Nimah Houston, who uses music from the Gameboy to create her tracks. (Can’t you see?! The ship is a Gameboy!) You race on colourful, procedurally generated tracks and collect these yellow cubes to add to your score, while avoiding blocks and barriers in your way, only stopping if you either fall off the course or the song ends.
There is only one thing to do in this game: move left or right. There’s no acceleration or braking, no special moves or jumps, just left and right. Now, the reason I said what I did in the intro was because a few tries into the first track, I was finding myself saying: “Is this it?” However, after looking up the game’s website and (I’m ashamed to admit) other reviews of the game to see if anyone had anything nice to say about it, I realised that I had been – I guess – ruined by other games.
SPECTRA was made like this because that was exactly what it was meant to be; a little, retro-styled racer with an awesome soundtrack to go with it, that if made for the Atari console, would be played with the single joystick controller. Once I realised this, I enjoyed it so much more. I played through my favourite tracks over and over because I wanted to better my score, get that extra achievement or just listen to Chipzel’s kick-arse song. It gets crazy addicting the more you play, however with no online or even local leader board you’re simply racing against your best time and there’s really only so many times you can do that per level.
I likened it to Guitar Hero or Sound Shapes – games that were made with the idea of using the medium of music as a main element, especially since the album used in this game, Spectra, Chipzel created in 2013 and this game with the same name was released in mid 2015. And the best part? If you like the music enough (like me) you can buy her album or stream it from Apple Music which, yes, I have already done.