|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Maxis||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: Jan.27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
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.
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.
CCC Freelance Writer