|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Maxis||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 7, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
A Promising Game
by Joseph Catalanotto
May 1, 2008 - Will Wright is responsible for some of the most successful PC games ever created -- The Sims and all its expansion packs along with such popular games as SimCoaster and SimCity are the brainchild of Mr. Wright. His newest project is certainly an interesting one: it's called Spore, and it's a strategy game that plays off the concept of evolution. It's shaping up to be absolutely fantastic on the PC, and now the DS is getting a handheld iteration of the sure-to-be-great game as well.
The DS version of this game is going to be called Spore Creatures, and like most handheld counterparts of console or PC games, it's going to be a scaled-back experience of the full-fledged PC version. The computer version is incredibly fleshed-out and allows you to guide your character from a microscopic single-celled organism all the way to a complex being and even allows you to creat a society and eventually a civilization of your creatures. It's rich with strategy and customization and is looking to be a highly revolutionizing strategy experience.
Spore Creatures still focuses on many of the same aspects of its older brother, but it also simplifies many things to make it a much more approachable and less complex experience. Spore Creatures focuses solely on the "creature" aspect of Spore, rather than delving into the many other facets of game that the full version possesses (spaceship building or solar system exploration, for example). You'll create your microscopic creature, let it evolve, and upgrade it, and eventually create a civilization.
However, Spore Creatures is not exactly a sandbox game -- I'd imagine it's tough for a DS card to hold enough information to create a quality game in this genre. Instead, it opts to go for a mission-oriented game while still focusing on the creation aspects that promise to make Spore such a great game. For example, you'll still be doing tons of interaction with various other species -- you'll be befriending some and going to war against others.
On the other hand, there's also a very distinct role-playing implementation in Spore Creatures that causes it to be a far more linear adventure. As you progress through the game, you'll discover new creature parts that can be used on your current entity. These parts then need to be used on your creature, which will allow you to unlock new areas of the single planet you play on. For example, if there's a massive impassable chasm, chances are you'll have to go find a wing part and use it on your creature to cross the gap.
While this system certainly dictates a lot of how you'll play the game, there's still room for creativity -- after all, that's what Spore Creatures is really all about. For example, you can essentially create your character however you like -- think along the lines of Drawn to Life, except that you'll have a plethora of creature parts rather than a blank canvas. As you progress through the game you can continually customize your creature, suiting it best for certain tasks or for fighting off certain enemies.
The combat that takes place in Spore Creatures is fairly basic: it plays out much like an action RPG. You've got your HP meter, and combat takes place in real time. The twist here is one that won't come as much of a surprise to anybody who's been gaming with a DS for a long time: you execute attacks with strokes on the touch screen. It's a fairly basic system and combat does not play a huge role in the game, but it will manage to remain fresh and interesting as you wipe out enemy tribes.
Visually, Spore Creatures is shaping up to be a similarly impressive game. The graphics are cel-shaded and take on a very distinct artistic style. Creations look really great from the screenshots we've seen, and the planet you explore unfolds in fantastic-looking 3D. The game looks great and promises to be one of the best-looking titles on the DS. It's very impressive the development team is devoting this much attention to detail, and the game is sure to benefit as a result.
Spore Creatures looks to be a must-have on the DS for any fans of real-time strategy games, and it is likely to revolutionize the entire genre on the DS. It releases alongside the full-fledged PC version and will be a perfect choice for any Spore-fanatics or anybody who just wants to enjoy a scaled-back version of this game on the go. Keep an eye out for this title when it releases in early September this year.
CCC Freelance Writer