Will Wright’s 2008 PC game Spore was hyped to the point where anything that was actually released couldn’t help but disappoint. The publishers also made some arrogant claims regarding their DRM that led to the game being quickly cracked and becoming one of the most pirated games of the year. The game offered an amazingly deep creation system but the ‘anything is possible’ shine quickly wore off as gamers worked through the chapters. Yet after all of the hype and backlash … what we were left with was a very good game that offered loads of fun. Similarly there were complaints about the very limited scope of the offshoots on the Nintendo DS and iPhone, but they were loads of fun for what they offered. Now EA has released new games in the Spore franchise for the DS and Wii. There are enough differences that I’ll review them separately, and let you know if they are worth buying or are an attempt to cash in on a popular name at the start of the Holiday shopping season.
The Spore universe finally comes to the Wii in Spore Hero, an entirely new simulation adventure with an RPG feel. Guaranteed to please existing fans of the franchise as well as those coming to it for the first time, in both the game’s single player and an exciting two-player versus modes players create a creature hero, take on quests for non-playing characters and fight to save your planet. Along the way you will unlock hundreds of collectible body parts and abilities that open up new gameplay options and that put the direction of your character’s unique evolution in your own hands.
This all-new story begins as you crash land on a strange alien world. But something evil has followed you and is threatening to destroy the creatures of the planet. Only a true hero can save the world from this new threat. Are you that hero? If so you will need to earn unique new parts to adapt to the courageous battles and amazing adventures that await you in Spore Hero.
In Spore Hero, players focus on creativity and evolution using the unique controls for Wii. The game takes players on an exciting adventure through a beautiful, colorful world based in the Spore universe. Taking full advantage of the Wii controls, Spore Hero engages players in heated battles, humorous missions, curious puzzles and more. Throughout the game, players will collect more than 250 body parts parts with unique abilities and experience the unparalleled customization of the revolutionary Spore Creature Creator enhanced for the Wii.
Key Game Features
* Create and evolve your own hero with over 250 collectible parts and special abilities. Spore’s revolutionary Creature Creator is brought to life with Wii enhanced controls.
* Fight using your Wii Remote as you spit poison, fire spikes, dive bomb, and bite your enemies. Unlock combos and new fighting skills as you take on dangerous creatures all over the planet.
* Play against a friend as you bring your wildest Spore creatures into battle in versus multiplayer action.
* Explore a vast new world filled with hidden parts, thrilling quests and more in this new Spore adventure.
Let me sum up my experience briefly: Spore Hero for the Wii is an excellent monster creation system attached to a fairly dreadful game.
My older (barely teen) son was the first one to try it out, and I was working on my laptop as he was playing, but I noticed a trend – he would create a new character, play a bit, then go back and create another new character, and so on. When I asked, he said “the character creator is really cool but the game itself is boring”. Unlike the DS game, after watching a bit my younger son never even bothered playing … leaving me to suffer in solitude.
Objectively I know that the Wii Spore Hero is better put together as a game than the DS Spore Hero Arena, but I actually disliked this game MORE because it was utterly generic and uninspired and drains all of the creativity from the license in a series of rip-offs from other genre games. Of course the same could be said of the DS, which is why I recommend skipping both games and finding something GOOD to play instead.
The core game goes like this: you are a barely evolved creature that crash lands on an unknown planet, and need to work on missions for the inhabitants in order to pick up scrap that you can use to further customize your creature. This can involve accentuating existing features or introducing new ones – and is why my son was constantly going back to start new creatures as well as customizing existing ones. In case I wasn’t clear enough, the creation editor is the best part of the game. Yet it is also flawed – for example, at first I couldn’t figure out how to leave without changing a part, so I would change a part and then change back. My son pointed out that there was no back button but by clicking outside the area you could effectively cancel your choices.
For the rest of the game you are engaging missions in order to get ahead, but those missions are seldom very fun: kill something, collect something, or perform silly Wii-centric challenges that feel more like early Wii exploits than game design reflecting a few years with the console.
Combat could have been fun, but isnt’. Your characters change radically based on how you customize them, which is great – but you are bogged down by a combat system that has many of the same features as the DS game but lacks even the depth of that battle system. There are a few moves that you repeat ad nauseum until you get to move on.
Perhaps the most glaring issue I faced was that every choice in the character creator pitted you against yourself: you were supposed to be there to express your creativity, but since everything depended on success in battle, you would often chose based on battle capability rather than what you think looks cool. And that is directly counter to the open creativity of the original Spore game.
So let’s sum it up: unfocused design, flawed interface, uninspired game structure, and limited and repetitive combat. The only positive thing this game has going for it is a fun character creator and editor … and that grows old fast.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
Price: $49.99 (currently on sale for $39.99)
What I Like:
– Character creator is fun
– Changing creature parts has an immediate effect
What Needs Improvement:
– Unlimited creativity replaced with a generic platform & battle game
– Interface flaws
– Total lack of focus
– What is there is not all that fun