|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Griptonite Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 07, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
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.
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.
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.