Image via WikipediaSpore Creatures is a variation on the Spore theme. In Spore Creatures, you play this "adventure" game where you decide you want to be nice or nasty, and basically "explore" this island, while gathering more and more DNA for your creature, get a collection of "parts", and decide on the eventual shape of your creature.
Spore has you start as a simple critter. You explore the island to find DNA pools, avoid nasty creatures, traps, and environmental dangers. Talk to other creatures, and either fight them for domination, or do the befriend routine and gain their trust by doing a simple DDR routine (up / down / left / right / center pattern matching). If you befriend the three creatures at each "submap" you will gain access to a new part. Defeating the "epic creature" at each map will gain you an epic ability. The idea is to explore the island, get all the DNA, defeat or befriend all creatures, and generally "win" the island.
Each map has a theme, and within each theme are unique dangers. The initial map, known as "The Beach", is very calm and quiet. Later you get lava field, poison fruits (don't eat them!), poison slime bugs, quicksand traps, triple seekers, rock tossers, and much more. All must be avoided to the best of your ability. You can take a limited amount of damage. Going back to a "nest" will heal you, or if you gain the epic "tortashell" ability which allows you to heal away from the nest. If you take too much damage, you wil die, and you wil be restarted at the "caves" map, whiich is like the central hub to all other areas.
Your creature is rated in four categories: offense, defense, movement, and social. Each part you add / replace wil add / subtract from one or more of those categories. As you progress, you'll gain special abilities, such as "bash rocks", "bash poison crystals", "walk over lavafields", and so on. And you will need those abilities to access the final few percent of the maps you may not be able to get to before. If you max out a category, you gain a special ability as well. For example, max out movement, and you get the "sprint" capability, which gives you a higher top speed for a few seconds.
The graphics is the same style as before in the mobile Spore, strange looking 2D creatures with appendages and wiggling tails and bug eyes, sure looks both weird and cute. All creatures are nicely animated. A bit of parallax scrolling for the trees give the map a slightly 3D look, even though it is really 2D. Sounds and vibration use is pretty pedestrian, as you basically get sound and vibe when you get hit by something. And some weee-waaaww sound effects at the menu, that's about it.
You can play this game as violent or as peaceful as you wish. You can fight everybody, or make peace with everybody, or somewhere in between. It is entirely up to you. The only "combat" needed are with the epic creatures, and they don't involve headbutting at all, but rather, use of proper terrain features. Really.
The game is simple to learn, as there aren't that many controls: just the directional pad, and the OK button, and one soft key to unleash the special ability. Other than that, there is just the pause menu button.
The game play is not really revolutionary, as there are plenty of this "run back and forth and discover something" type games around. However, the presentation is novel, and the subject fascinating. The problem is, you can't help but feel that you've done all this before. And it is pretty hard to die in this game if you're relatively conservative, just run for the "nest" if you're seriously hurt. It's really the same game under all the flash. However, it's the toy-like aspect that you can do evil, good, or anything in between, that makes the game unique.
Once you made it to the end, you can keep playing and trying to collect every last part available, every fruit available, every edible critters, and so on. It wasn't that hard, really.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: easy enough to learn, easy enough to "master", fascinating subject
Cons: nothing really new here, none of that fascinating AI, all of the choices really lead to the same thing
Verdict: a short but sweet game good for a few hours, but nothing quite as revolutionary as the original