Review by Mykas0

"I guess this should be sold at 1/4 the price, hum?!"

The PC version of “Spore” is one of the most unique gameplay experiences created in the last few years. Unfortunately, the possibly of having that same product released for an handheld console was very unlikely; instead, they decided to give us a slightly tuned down version, with this game taking you across one of the phases of the PC version.

While its bigger brother takes you across an evolutionary adventure, from a single-celled individual up to interplanetary expansion, this “Creatures” version restricts you to the bigger game's second phase, the one where you can build and play as your own creature. You're given access to a simplified version of the creature creator, and that's where all the fun begins. Using a very simple editor, you get to create your own creature, composed by parts that you've collected in your adventure. At first, the parts you have accessible are very simple and provide very limited bonuses, but as you advance along the main storyline and complete several objectives, new ones are made available, and you can then create more complex, and certainly stronger, beasts.

So far everything is just great, but this is exactly where the game starts to decay. Presenting a plot-driven main mode, where your creature tries to rescue a friend who was kidnapped, everything is just too simple to please more skilled gamers. You're awarded tasks such as collecting a certain number of items, defeating a group of enemies or befriending particular monsters, tasks which are always easy to complete. Befriending creatures is done via a simple rhythmic game, while battles add limits to the area you were in, and you have to scratch your opponent (or click icons, for the special powers, if you have any available at the moment) to attack it.

Then, walking around a simplistic environment, the biggest puzzle you'll face relies on figuring out which goal makes it possible for you to acquire a set of legs that make it possible for you to cross icy roads, and that's is as simple as it sounds. Give it a few more hours and, before you reach 10 hours of play, you'll have completed the main storyline.

By then, you'll find that there is an option allowing you to replay the game with all the parts you had at its ending, but there's no real reason on why you would want to do so. There's an in-game achievements' list to add titles to, but nothing too fancy changes in subsequent adventures, and a major reason that impels you to continue playing is lacking here. One could certainly view the “collection of all parts” as such goal, but with some of those elements being randomly dropped by monsters, and others being just too irrelevant, such idea is soon dissipated.

In fact, there's no true reason on why you should even bother to create an interesting creature. There's no in-game goal, or even any kind of achievement, for those players who just want to create something unique, something fun, and that ends up being disappointing. Just like in the PC version, you can create and share your own creatures, but a major question is yet to be asked - why? The monsters you create, or the ones you're traded in, will later appear in the six worlds this game has to offer, but their presence is reserved to small cameos, and nothing else. Now, unless you find the idea of fighting, let's say, a giant Pikachu once in a while, there's nothing too fancy here.

With the usage of Wi-Fi, and wireless, being reserved solely to the act of trading creatures, an action which is even plagued by an astonishing amount of lag, all arrows seem to point to the fact that you should even try to avoid those options. Painful as it is, using them ends up being a hot commodity that you'll try to avoid at all costs.

Surprisingly, this game's graphics have some fancy features. The entire environment, and all the creatures, are depicted in a stylized 2D style, resembling the one from the card battles from “Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales”. Once in a while, you may have to face some less flattering camera angles, but since you can move the camera around your monster, that's not really a big deal. Special effects, the few ones seen in the battlefield, aren't that shiny, but assuming that you'll be lost in heat of action, you'll probably never think much about it.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the soundtrack. The singing mini-games offer nothing new, and most musics that you get to hear during your adventure are far from interesting, being easily placed in the category of mildly-cooked melodies that frequently roam most of today's games.

Considering its many flaws and strengths, this is a game that best fits a very limited audience, the one of those players who want a quick game, one that can be enjoyed in very small quantities. In the long run this title has plenty of flaws, which will certainly make you lose interest after just a few hours of play.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 09/16/08

Game Release: Spore Creatures (EU, 09/04/08)

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