Since exploding onto the videogame scene in 2008, Spore has rapidly evolved into a full blown phenomenon. The games have graced most every platform, an abundance of websites, DVDs and literature devoted to the franchise have sprung into existence, and there’s reportedly even a big-budget movie adaption in the works.
The iPhone/Touch iteration was well recieved by critics and fans alike. Preceeded by its sterling reputation and bolstered by the fact it was among the first wave of big name games to hit iDevice, Spore Origins was an unequivocal smash-hit for EA.
A sequel was enivitable. But now that Sporemania has died down somewhat and big guns such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty inhabit our iPhones, can Spore Creatures cut it in the notoriously fickle habitat of the Appstore?
Well, yes and no. Seemingly taking the adage, adapt or die, to heart, this time around you’re out of the primordial sludge and onto terra firma for a familiar, yet still enjoyable, fusion of action, puzzle, and RPG-esque gameplay.
Once you’ve chosen a suitably strange looking critter and named it, it’s time to explore your new surroundings. Tilt controls guide your creation through colourful environments that are bustling with life, some edible, some not. Basically, the goal to gobble anything smaller than yourself before moving onto the next area.
And even without the hint windows popping up every few seconds, it’d be pretty obvious what you’re supposed to do to reach a new stage (e.g. sprout legs to shift boulders). This straightforward progression unfortunately sapping the title of its intended sense of discovery or exploration.
Although as you delve deeper into the world of Spore Creatures things thankfully do start to get more interesting. On your travels you’ll encounter herds of other species which can be battled or befriended, while face-offs with epic creatures add some much needed diversity to the proceedings.
Collecting DNA allows your creature to reach the next stage of evolution, unlocking new abilities (ranging from fighting moves to social skills) and changing your appearance. There’s also a decent amount of levels on offer, 20 in total, set across 4 distinct zones. However, due to the linear nature of adventuring, the quests soon get repetitive and the core gameplay in each area is disappointingly samey.
The game’s saving grace is the excellent creature creator, here you can customize your critter to your heart’s content, using the vast selection of body parts like legs, mouths, shells, and wings, plus different skins, shapes, and colors (with over a BILLION possible combinations!). Another neat feature is the ability to access your photo library and superimpose your favourite snaps onto your creatures skin.
While the main game might lack depth and diversity, ultimately it’s still quite an engrossing adventure, and you’ll have plenty of fun pimping your creature. That said, Creatures relies a little too heavily on the clout of the Spore brand-name and doesn’t do enough to successfully differentiate itself from Origins, resultantly the formula now feeling a tad dated in this brave new era of iDevice gaming.
iFanzine Verdict: Spore fans will undoubtedly lap this up, for everyone else the game is a passable RPG lite adventure. Good fun, but not exactly an evolutionary step forward for the franchise.
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