Spore Hero Review
Spore Hero box art
System: Wii 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: Jan.27, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Despite the grandiose ambitions associated with Will Wright's Spore (PC) during development, the game made a B-line for the mainstream masses upon release. In keeping with EA's push toward commercial success for the franchise, Spore Hero now comes to Wii. We dive into the deep-end of this primordial goo to see just how the game stacks up in the food chain.

Spore Hero screenshot

Unlike the original Spore for PC, which took players from the very first stages of organic life to the far reaches of space, Spore Hero has a more defined focus, one conspicuously aimed at a younger audience. Two meteors (red and blue) come crashing down onto an unknown planet, and after you've waggled your way (with the Wii Remote) out of your shell, you're greeted by one of the natives who informs you that… well, you're a hero who needs to save the world from red crystals that are wreaking havoc.

The story takes both the space and prehistoric elements of the PC game and meshes them into one unique thrust; it works. The mix of otherworldly landscapes, alien gibberish, and cutesy character designs make a strong foundation for the scope of the game.

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When you begin your adventure, you are presented as a little blue blob with arms, legs, and eyes. One of the planet's residents will send you back to your nest to fit yourself with a mouth - the first quest of the game - and it is here you'll be able to access the creature editor.

The interface for the editor is attractive and inviting in most respects, though it does have a few odd quirks. For one, selecting one of the body part categories brings up a list of parts you can place on your creatures, but if you decide not to add a part, you can't simply press a button (typically the B button) to back out. You'll have to move your cursor to one end of the screen and click outside of the menu to return to the previous screen. There are quite a few such snags players will stumble upon as they navigate various portions of the game, but they're minor complaints, really.

Spore Hero screenshot

Spore Hero can almost be likened to a Legend of Zelda game, in that you'll take on various quests, come upon out-of-reach areas, and then after an hour or two of gameplay, acquire some item (in this case, a body part) that will enable you to negotiate a particular path that was previously a dead end. In order to swim, you'll need to first find a body part that resembles fins; if you want to fly, you'll have to acquire wings. It's a formula that can feel really rewarding, and simple but satisfying puzzles make a good portion of the "getting there" a whole lot of fun.

Unfortunately, it's the in-between parts that suck the life out of the experience. There are two main elements that bookend the adventure portions of the game - combat and rhythm mini-games - and they are two stones always tugging Spore Hero downward.

Spore Hero screenshot

In theory, combat could have been a ton of fun. New parts give you new abilities and greater power during battle, and there are a load of body parts to discover along the way. You can bite, kick, do a flying kick, or even lob projectiles at your opponents, but in action, combat is beyond being a chore; it's simply abusive. Biting only requires you to tap the B button, but the damage done is minor. In order to take a real chunk out of your adversary, you'll have to combine that button press with some sort of waggle. Of course, hit detection is terrible, and your creature lumbers around arenas like Frankenstein's monster.

Yes, battles take place in arenas, not organically throughout the adventure. Need to secure a nest? You'll have to battle a bunch of natives in order to prove your worth. Accidentally whack a creature, and the gloves come off and you're thrown into the ring for more waggling frustration. Enemies usually have almost twice as much health and do double the damage of your creature. Luckily, we found a surefire method of beating most opponents - by cramming them against the far side of an arena and mashing the B button nonstop - but that only added finger pain to an already fun-crushing time.

Screenshots / Images
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