The Spore brand is not a mark of quality in this case.
Spore Heroes Arena may call to you, like a mythological Siren, as you wander through Best Buy. “Look,” it says, “I’m a Spore game, developed by Maxis. Come feast on my Creature Creator and gooey nougat center.” Like that cursed temptress, Spore Heroes Arena will only pull your ship to a rocky doom. Save yourself, dear readers! Heed my tale of woe, ignore the Siren’s song, and move on to better games.
Spore Heroes Arena is roughly divided into two parts: fighting creatures and exploring . The battle system never gets more complicated than “mash the attack buttons to knock your opponent off the ledge,” although when special circumstances are involved (you have one life, your opponent has three, etc.), the battling becomes not only boring, but frustrating.
The control scheme is somewhat flawed during fights. Movement is handled by the stylus, and attacks are assigned to the face buttons. Your alien has three special attacks (Bio-Powers) that are activated by first holding down L or R, then tapping one of the icons that pop up. During this time, your creature is not attacking, but instead being beaten down by the opposition. Fortunately, it’s much easier to win fights by getting up in your opponent’s face and spamming the punch/bite buttons.When you’re not fighting, you’re wandering through bland 3D isometric landscapes populated by abstract rocks and plants, looking for aliens to either fight with or do chores for (tasks like races, herding, and escort missions). Your prize is either a new creature part or a blue crystal. After you collect four blue crystals, you move on to that particular planet’s boss (read: another fight).
You can change up your creature’s parts with bits and pieces that you find in the environments or parts that are given to you as rewards, changing its stats in the process. Unfortunately, it’s not clear when or how you should do this, given a strange DNA “point” system. As you progress, you’ll accrue DNA points through undefined means, and once you have a certain amount, you can go back into the Creature Creator and swap a part that costs that many DNA points. Experimenting with parts is a slow, tedious process.
These tasks comprise the entire Spore Heroes Arena experience. Interestingly, the game supports multi-card four-player multiplayer for arena battles with friends. Also, you can hop onto Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for one-on-one battles. It’s appreciated, but the one game I played involved basically getting up in each-others’ grills and pounding the attack buttons. Strategy has no meaning.
Spore Heroes Arena is a very uninspiring title that has a repetitive fighting engine and tedious exploration. It definitely does not live up to the Spore brand.