Spore Hero Review for Nintendo Wii

Spore Hero Review for Nintendo Wii

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.

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.

The rhythm mini-games, on the other hand, require less aerobics, yet they, too, manage to sidestep any semblance of enjoyment. As an example, one of the early minis has you shaking the Wii Remote or Nunchuk, or shaking both controllers in time with blinking dots onscreen. The lack of feedback combined with poor implementation will leave players cold every time. We never quite felt like we knew exactly what we were doing, either – just muddling through. Another of the rhythm games will require you to point the Wii Remote either upward, downward, or keep it level while pressing the A button, but you have to practically contort your wrist to execute commands properly.

Spore Hero screenshot

It’s a shame so little love was given to these portions of Spore Hero, since they play such a major role in the adventure. The breadth of ideas is pretty sparse, but the pacing is solid. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to muster the desire to press on when the game is constantly beating you down with poor design. The jumping mechanics and collision detection are always issues, and even the way the buttons are mapped can cause frustration if you’re attempting to enter the nest hub when another creature is nearby.

On the production front, the game is respectable but lacks ambition. The style has an almost Rayman 2: The Great Escape quality but with better lighting. It’s a fitting motif, since much of the focus of the game is in allowing the player to tinker and tweak things. However, environments are blocky, and the framerate can often chug under certain conditions. Creature animations look okay close up, but when viewing models from a distance, things can look downright archaic.

If there’s one true high point in Spore Hero, it’s definitely the soundtrack. The music is incredibly nuanced and powerful. Themes fit each and every activity of the game perfectly, exuding the sort of playfulness you might hear in a PBS documentary. The creature gibberish is another nice touch, as is the pattering of feet as you make your way around environments.

If we were grading Spore Hero on novelty alone, it would get high marks for personality and a great sense of humor. However, it’s not an adventure you sit back and experience. You’ll quickly need to take control of this thing, and it just isn’t very much fun to do so. The adventure portions are paced well and lined with rewards, but the getting there can be painful. In a video game, it’s less about the destination and more about the journey, and ultimately, Spore Hero filled us with a desire to go nowhere.

On the whole, Spore Hero has an attractive style, and its world is fun to experience. Water is especially impressive, but the game’s not an ambitious undertaking in most other respects. 3.0 Control
In spite of some poor collision detection and questionable button mapping, moving about the world is fairly painless – often quite enjoyable, actually. Combat and music making, however, are a total drag. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music that is perhaps on par with Super Mario Galaxy – no small feat at all. Entertaining creature gibberish and sound effects make the audio ends meet nicely. 2.5

Play Value
The adventure is a respectable length, but it’s a slog getting through. The off-line Sporepedia is kind of pointless, as are the multiplayer arena battles, since battling offers no shred of enjoyment.

2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Fight to Save the World: Built from the ground up exclusively for the Nintendo Wii, Spore Hero features an intriguing storyline taking you on a journey to fight a mysterious dark force that threatens your creatures new planet. Embark on exciting missions, intense battles, and incredible action-quests to save the world!
  • Create a Hero: Spore’s much-loved Spore Creature Creator comes to the Wii for the first time, offering a robust library of more than 250 parts to create your unique hero! One eye or five? Wings or a horn? The possibilities are endless!
  • Battle Your Friends: Put your combat skills to the test as you engage in embroiled battles with a friend in a multiplayer mode! Create a decked out creature or choose a previously created or pre-made creature to challenge friends with.

  • To top