Hands on with Spore Creatures on DS
Putting Darwin in his place
The concept of Spore is all about how the very, very small can have a profound effect on the much, much larger. As such, the four Spore Creatures demo pods, assigned to a tiny section of EA's enormous booth, which prompted the longest queues for any handheld game at GC 2008 aptly personified Spore Creatures' core mechanic.
Upon laying our hands on an available demo stall, the first thing we heard was not the dependable chime of the DS on switch, but the delighted squeal of a girl standing next to us. It's fair to say, that we're not the only ones excited about this game.
Rather than opt for a slightly pared down version of the PC/Mac game, Foundation 9 has reworked the Spore universe into a unique standalone handheld effort for DS. Don't worry, the creature creator is still very much present and correct.
You begin the game as a species that has been plucked by a UFO from its natural habitat and dumped into a much less forgiving environment, forcing you to fight to maintain a place in the evolutionary order.
That means that rather than design your primordial sludge from the ground up, you start as a worm-like creature that has to find new body parts so that you can then evolve. This is done by manoeuvring your creature around the 3D world using the stylus and tapping on the various collectables you find around the place.
As you collect things and indulge in various mini-games, you can use the items you have learnt/collected to adapt your beast in the creature creator according to the sort of life you would like it to lead.
It's simple, intuitive and though the nature of the game is not nearly as open ended as the PC/Mac version, that Will Wright magic still pours from the screen, helped in no small part by the excellent reworking of the visuals.
The world in Spore Creatures is 3D, but the creatures themselves are almost like 2D paper cut outs. It makes for a bright, jaggies-free concoction that charms and, for the most part, serves the action perfectly.
It is worth mentioning that positioning and changing the shape of body parts in the creature creator is a bit more fiddly without that extra dimension to help give perspective on your design, though it never feels frustratingly constrictive.
Minor quibbles aside, it seems impossible that a game as hyped as Spore (or any variation thereof) could possibly stand up to the media frenzy the game has received, but based on our time with Spore Creatures, we have high hopes.
Click 'Track It!' to be sure to catch our review once it's fully evolved.