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13 December 2008

Spore Creatures [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 4/10
Pretty basic idea, here. You play a small creature with the ability to "evolve" bigger, better, stronger body parts to help you survive. At the start of the game, you witness the bad guy doing bad things, and decide that you have to stop him. You hijack one of his spaceships and follow him around from one planet to the next (there are only 6 planets total) until you finally catch up to him and fight him. On your way to fight him, you run into challenges that block your progress, where you have to help out some of the other native creatures before you can proceed. The challenges range in difficulty, but most are relatively easy. Only one gave me a bit of a hard time.
I'm giving the plot a 4 out of 10, because it... well... it just plain could have been better. There just wasn't much to it. I don't know. Maybe, because of how open ended the creature design aspect of the game is, they didn't have much room left for things like story. If it were up to me, though, I'd have tried to do a bit more with the story.

Game Play: 8/10
The game play in Spore Creatures is pretty intuitive. I never even actually read the instruction manual. Replacing body parts involves a simple drag-and-drop interface. Battle primarily involves simply dragging the stylus across your opponent. There are tutorials at the beginning of the game for everything, so even the less-intuitive stuff is explained pretty thoroughly. No big problems, but nothing overly innovative, either. I did appreciate the fact that dragging the stylus across your opponent in battle helped to make you feel a bit more directly involved in the battles, though, compared to simply pressing one button to attack. Nice touch.
I give the game play an 8 out of 10, simply because of how easy it is to master. I'd have liked to see a bit more innovation here, but then I would probably have had to read the manual to figure it out. I guess I can't have my cake and eat it, too.

Graphics: 6/10
The graphics in Spore Creatures have a cut-paper look reminiscent of Drawn to Life. This look, thankfully, has yet to be horribly over-used. The downside to using this look is the relative lack of detail. Granted, in a game designed for a handheld system with a screen smaller than a business card, it's hard to get too detailed with the graphics, but I feel that this style caused some items to read poorly due, partially, to the size restraints of the DS screens. At times, I even found myself sitting and staring at the screen trying to figure out what a particular item was, and I wasn't even looking at the monsters when I experienced this. The look could have worked if the game had been developed for the Wii instead of the DS, but the small screen did more harm than good, visually.
I give the graphics a 6 out of 10. I think, given the relative lack of detail one gets when using a cut-paper style of animating, and the relative lack of detail one gets when working with such a small screen, perhaps this look wasn't the best choice.

Overall Score: 6/10
This game's biggest downfall, in my opinion, is the relative utter lack of a story. You chase the bad guy down and help out the natives along the way. It's been done so many times, it's impossible to count them all. If EA had done more with the story, this game would be a lot better.

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