After defeating the evil Krawl in their first adventure, Rallen and Jeena are called back into duty when a new meanace, the High Krawl, begin attacking planets. One of their first targets is the Spectrobes lab, potentially knocking out humanity's only defense against the Krawl. This leads to the game's overall goal: travel the universe, collect Spectrobes and send the High Krawl packing. Though it isn't the most original of plot devices, the setup is much better than the first game, where you were basically collecting them just to do it. The story is also aided by the presence of a visible threat rather than the first game's faceless menace.
Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals takes place on several planets, and though they tend to trend towards the generic, they offer enough places to find Spectrobes that I doubt players will really care if the areas aren't that interesting to look at. The only real difference between planets is in how you go about collecting fossils. Each planet has its own ground type, so you'll need to use different excavation methods. Pulling fossils out of ice requires a melting tool while getting them out of the sand requires players to blow on the microphone.
One of the more noticeable gameplay changes is the combat system. In the first game, Rallen had to enter battle but was more of a liability than an asset. Rallen no longer participates in battles with Spectrobes; instead as he runs around levels, he'll encounter balls of "Krawl Dust." For the most part, Dust isn't a major threat so the new system isn't that much of an improvement. The action sections are great and feel like they were shoehorned in just to make Rallen a little more active than your typical Poke'mon trainer.
Fighting with Spectrobes is a much better experience. You can take two Spectrobes into battle and can switch between controlling each while the A.I. takes over the other. There are three types of Spectrobes - Flash, Aurora and Corona - and each shares a paper-rock-scissors dynamic. This relationship forms the basis for the entire combat system, though complications are added once Dark Spectrobes are thrown into the mix. Then there's the whole evolutionary aspect, all of which help to create a fairly deep combat system.
Using Local Multiplayer, players can trade Spectrobes or battle in one of three game types: 1 vs.1, Team or Battle Royal. All three use the same combat system used in the single-player game. Battling online is a completely different experience. Rather than using a real-time system, players compete via a turn-based system featuring a variety of mini-games. Attack and defense strength is determined by how well players perform these activities, which is a nice change compared to the other system. Players can also upload Spectrobes and sell them on the online marketplace or download special items. As of this review, Disney has already offered one set of downloadable content, which includes a new sword for Rallen and a set of new Spectrobes.