|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: Oct. 6, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
To be fair, there are other factors that make all this more bearable. The most important one takes place not in the arena but in the creature-creation room. When putting your little guy together, you have to worry not only about how he looks, but also about how each new feature affects his fighting abilities. This is also a concern when choosing and upgrading your special moves (there are three types of them: one targets the nearest opponent, another targets all on-screen opponents, and the third doesn't target at all). By taking the time to build a fighter whose features all work together, you can dramatically increase your chances of winning. Oddly enough, it's a lot more fun and strategic to build a fighter than to fight with one.
There are other upsides to the combat in this game as well. For one, in order to build up special attacks, you have to land blows, which forces you to learn each enemy's vulnerabilities, even if in the end you're just waiting for him to step too close to the edge. Also, you can retry fights whenever you want, so it's not as though every defeat forces you to play through a 20-minute level all over again.
The graphics and sound here are about average for the DS. The world is rendered in three dimensions. You have plenty of options in terms of your creature's colors, and the rest of the world looks almost as charming as a Mario game. The music and sound effects aren't particularly memorable, but they definitely enhance the experience rather than detracting from it.
Spore Hero Arena's premise of designing creatures for the purpose of arena fighting is a good one, but the execution is a bit off here. The endless series of unexciting tasks brings the game down and often makes it feel like a cash-in. Also, the various problems with the combat system make it far less engrossing than it could have been. In the end, though, any Spore title is primarily about creature creation, and this game gets that right, at least.
CCC Freelance Writer