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Spore Creatures

by Michael Cole - July 31, 2008, 9:34 am EDT
Total comments: 2

No, this is not the PC game.

Spore Creatures is a handheld spin-off of EA's highly anticipated Spore for PC (and later, consoles). Instead of attempting to emulate Will Wright's massively scoped project, this DS title is an adventure game set in the Spore universe.

The game's premise is straightforward enough. You play as a newly-hatched slug creature named Oogie, who can be augmented with a variety of mouths, arms, legs, and other appendages using a simplified version of the creature creator. Attaching parts allows you to attack, increase your defense or mobility, or improve your social abilities. Your creature can be altered at any nest (save point). In the full game you collect better parts as you progress, but the E3 demo provided many parts to fool around with. I played through the tutorial, designed to familiarize players with the many menu options and icons found in the game. Your sister slug, who acts as your guide during this sequence, is suddenly abducted by an evil alien flying in a UFO, providing the game's plot. Oogie eventually explores a variety of planets in his adventure.

The game gives off a vaguely Paper Mario look-and-feel, with wafer-thin characters in a fully 3-D world. The vibrant color palette further invokes thoughts of Nintendo's adventure/RPG series. The creature creator takes on a scrap-book look as parts with jagged edges are clumsily attached to your simple body. The result is comical, with Oogie at best looking awkward and at worst resembling a junkyard heap. Adjusting the size of parts in the creator goes a long way towards making an aesthetically pleasing hodgepodge, but as far as I could tell, there's little practical value in doing so. You can save and load several different creature configurations, which essentially are multiple sets of equipment.

The game is played with the touch screen. You touch where you want Oogie to go, you tap on a creature you want to interact with, and in battle you slash an enemy to attack. You interact with other creatures in the world through menus made up of icons. For example, you can tap on the socialize icon to initiate a confusing socialization ritual. This consisted of tapping on a symbol that appeared above the character and dragging it back to the character. This interaction came off as counter-intuitive, even with the in-game explanation. Befriend a creature allows it to become your ally during exploration and during battle (although only one at a time) to access new areas, etc. You can also collect parts lying about and eat food to gain experience points, which yield level-ups that in turn improve Oogie's statistics.

I only encountered one or two fights. The battle system is real-time, with the opponents circling each other. I lost one fight, which I attribute to either having not properly upgraded Oogie for battle or poorly tuned difficulty. It's also possible I fought a powerful creature I was supposed to befriend. When you die, you re-spawn at the last nest you visited. I was unable to get a good feel for the strategy of battle—blind slashing didn't seem to work well, but that could have been because I was outmatched. There is also an energy meter, which is depleted while a bio power is activated. Since I was early in the game, I was unable to try out any of these abilities, but the EA representative cited a spewing stream of lava as an example bio power.

Spore Creatures has an interesting presentation, and EA is intelligently designing it so as not to be compared closely to its PC sibling. However, I found the various menu options, statistics, and icons a bit overwhelming. Even so, the premise and presentation are appealing. If the full game has enough variety in its battle and level design, it could be a winner.


planetidiotAugust 21, 2008

I hate to say I told you so, but... no actually I love saying that. 

KDR_11kAugust 22, 2008

I sure hope blind slashing not working is a feature, not a bug.

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Genre Simulation
Developer Electronic Arts

Worldwide Releases

na: Spore Creatures
Release Sep 07, 2008
PublisherElectronic Arts
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