Spore Creatures Review for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Spore Creatures Review for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

An Evolutionary Adventure!

From the moment it was announced, Spore has been heralded as a new and interesting experience in gaming. Its heady mix of nearly unlimited creativity) and flexible gameplay have made it a must-buy title for PC and Mac owners. Those who aren’t as inclined to PC gaming will be able to experience the wonder of Spore on the Nintendo DS with the more handheld-friendly Spore Creatures.

Spore Creatures screenshot

This portable title does a good job of channeling the evolutionary charm of Spore, and it offers a more goal-focused experience than its PC counterpart. But, despite this title’s more limited features, it is still quite exceptional in its own right.

As the game opens, you’ll bear witness to two little pre-evolutionary creatures taking their first steps onto land. Once they become land animals, it will be up to you to determine their evolutionary progression from there. You will learn how to customize your character, but there will be very few options available for you at the start. The game instead functions as an ongoing evolutionary experience where you can unlock more creature characteristics as you go on.

The very beginning of the game is somewhat of a disappointment because you won’t have total creative control over your creature from the beginning, like you would in the PC version. Instead, you’ll have just a few options, and will have to look forward to unlocking more as time goes on. When you start up, you’ll only have two body options, four mouth options, and a handful of limb and tail options. Unlocking the different creature options is a great mechanism for keeping you engaged in the game, but you have so few options in the beginning that it seems like there is no way to truly customize your character. However, if you stick with your creature, you’ll unlock quite a few customization options. Your progression in the game is very linear, and it follows your ever-evolving creature on its quest to discover the world around it. There is a paper-thin story that directs the action involving your best friend’s alien abduction, but I’d be lying if I said that’s an important facet of the game.

The basic gameplay has a puzzle-platform style to it. Once you find that your friend has been abducted, it will be your job to level up your creature and unlock new evolutionary traits, including legs, arms, moths, and body shapes. By unlocking these new traits, you’ll be better equipped to run, jump, and swim through your surroundings. Oftentimes you will need a certain body part to get past a certain obstacle or fight a certain creature, which provides the backbone of the gameplay.

Spore Creatures screenshot

You’ll be able to level up and progress in the game by making friends and battling against different creatures. As you become more highly evolved, you’ll unlock more of the world to explore. You’ll encounter lots of different creatures, and it will be up to you to determine how to interact with them. Sometimes it will be advantageous to befriend them. To befriend an animal, you will have to play a little mini game. These minigames vary by creature, and serve as a very cute interaction method. One of the first little mini games you will run into is a rhythm based game in which you will have to touch little circles as they make their way to flower-shaped goals. Think Elite Beat Agents, but with moving targets. Many times you’ll have to play these minigames more than once to get the desired score in order to make the creature in question like you enough to be your friend. However, as nice as it is to make friends in this world, sometimes you will have no option but to fight the other creatures in the game

The battle system in this title is very passive and relies on the different features your creature’s evolved attributes give them. For instance, if you have equipped arms with a high attack level, your character will use their arms more aggressively. You can move your character around during these battles, and can also engage certain special power-ups which are also unlocked by your character’s unique body structures.

Spore Creatures screenshot

The game is quite fun, but there are a few issues that reveal themselves the more you play. First of all, the game gives you a great amount of direction in the game, which stifles the inherent creativity this game can inspire. There also isn’t much substance behind the initial evolutionary appeal of the game. Playing to earn customization feels a bit weird at first, and it is easy to be turned off from the game in the first few hours.

Spore Creatures screenshot

The battle system also feels a little weird at first and takes some getting used to before it really grows and matures. But, once the gameplay in Spore Creatures does evolve, it can be quite the addicting game. It starts off incredibly shallow, but once the depth reveals itself, you’ll find yourself immersed in this unique world. Seeking out different specials is where the game creates most of its play value, and gaining the different body parts turns out to be a very loft goal, (and one you can’t help but pursue).

Spore Creatures also has some online functionality, although it’s not nearly as robust as the PC online functionality. Users will be able to utilize a DS-centric online Sporepedia, where they can upload and share their different creatures. You won’t be able to play as other user-created creatures; however, you will be able to mark the ones you like and they may show up in your Spore world. The online functionality isn’t exactly amazing, but if all you want to do is share your creatures with friends, then this certainly fits the bill nicely.

Spore Creature’s overall look varies drastically on the Nintendo DS, as you might expect. The graphics are very clean, and the different creatures have a 2D Paper Mario-like look to them. The different creatures sport a fair amount of detail, despite the fact that they certainly don’t convey the amount of intricacies that you might see on the PC version. Still, the game looks quite good for the DS, and there isn’t much to complain about here.

Spore Creatures is definitely not a replacement or port of the PC version of Spore; can be best described as a different experience altogether. It comes on a little slow, but if you put some genuine time and effort into this game, you can come away with a fun experience. As long as you don’t expect the unlimited creativity and free-forming gameplay of the PC title, you won’t be disappointed. The best way to play this game is to not even compare it to the PC version at all. When it stands on its own, it offers a unique DS experience and provides some fun and interesting gameplay that is both accessible and enjoyable.

Graphics are very colorful and vibrant, but don’t expect any of the PC-level detail here. 4.1 Control
The game can be controlled almost entirely by stylus, which works well. There are a few button control options, but functionality is greatly decreased, and you’ll have to do the stylus shuffle for mini games. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music is pleasant to listen to, despite not being very complex or memorable. 4.2

Play Value
There is plenty to explore and discover in this world, and though it may not have the scope of the PC version, there is plenty to love.

4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Guide and evolve your custom creature on a quest to save your species and the entire Galaxy. Start as a simple creature and explore your surroundings.
  • Meet, befriend, or fight other creatures in a number of unique touch-screen based activities .
  • As the story unfolds, evolve your creature’s look and add to its abilities by collecting and adding parts in the Creature Creator.
  • Eventually uncover the mystery of the Galaxy’s troubles, and work to set things right.

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