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Nintendo DS Review: Spore Creatures

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It’s a vast galaxy out there. Ever imagined what other planets might be like? To land on them, to explore? Maybe to even meet other life forms, to befriend them or be forced into battle? What would those life forms be like – simple slugs or fierce, many-legged creatures?

Well, if you have tried to imagine all that,  you are not alone. Spore Creatures is a game that takes a look at all that and more, by way of fanciful cartoonish creatures. The game is heavy on the fancy and light on the ‘evolution’ question. This is basically a game in which you, the main creature, adapt with time to be better able to battle and protect. You protect not only yourself but also the weaker creatures on the planets you will explore.

This is the DS version of Electronic Arts’ long-awaited computer game. I haven’t played the computer version yet (odd, since I was counting the days at one point!) but am always looking for fun DS games, so I gave this a try. I’m glad I did – aside from two or three glitches, in which I had to attempt a task a few times or even consult online tips, the game play was entertaining and smooth. The storyline was simple, linear, and moved along at a timely pace.

In Spore  for DS, you begin as a little slug-like creature. Your friend Oogie is kidnapped by the super villain of this universe – Gar’skuther. You are forced to leave the comfort of your home planet to go on an Oogie search and rescue mission. There are six planets to explore and complete tasks on; as you complete certain vital tasks on each one, you advance to the next. Some tasks are optional, but since you never know beforehand which is which, my advice is, at least try to complete them all. Once you get the go-ahead to advance it’s up to you whether to take the spaceship outta there or stay a bit and finish up your optional tasks.

Since every creature you either fully befriend or fully defeat has a chance to offer you something, it’s a good idea to try to talk to all of them before leaving each planet. Complete the more urgent tasks first if you wish, but you might just need that leg or arm part they offer. Also, once fully befriended or defeated, their nest is yours to use as your little changing room. A key to this game is using the various new and improved body parts to modify yourself. A stronger arm, a tail that deals major damage to the opponent, a mouth that fuels you up more efficiently, a leg that kicks the enemy senseless. Big, beautiful eyes that charm the other creatures to the point making friends is easy. Soon, their hilltop nest with the great lava pool view will be yours.

Each new body part you gain has a power point total in two categories as well as a possible ‘super power’ such as flame throwing, super shield, etc. Some new parts are necessary to walk across lava, or swim in deep water. Whenever you can, retreat to a ‘friendly nest’ and change your creature up. It makes the difference between surviving or not through mandatory battles and defeats, or being so ‘plain’ (lack of charm) no neutral creature will befriend you. You either have to be a super shmoozer or a super soldier in this game usually, both. If you feel proud of your 'creation' you can even offer him to other game players via Wi-Fi. Aside from customizing by way of sticking body parts on like an extraterrestrial Mr. Potato Head, you can also paint him, though the paint colors have no effect on your creature's 'charm' or battle skills. Actually he looks more like "Cootie" than Mr. Potato Head, but never mind that. In this game, looks don't count; it's how well you construct him. Use your limited total of body points to choose powerful, versatile parts.

Finally, the big showdown with Gar'skuther: By that time I had accumulated so many powerful body parts, my creature was like a tank. A couple rounds with my blowtorch breath and super shield, and the super villain fell like a rusty robot. Once the game is complete you can go into replay mode. I was disappointed with that however. I had hoped to go back to the planets I had visited and finish collecting the various little tokens, finish meeting and greeting all the citizens there, finish collecting ‘body part’ updates. There was really no point other than visiting with less pressure and at a more leisurely pace, but it seemed a fun possibility.

This game does not give you that option, though. If you revisit a planet, you start from zero, and your previous tallies are wiped out. That seems a poorer option to me, than revisiting just for completion sake or for fun. The Oogie reunion scene at the end was touching, if the end credits were a bit long. But long end credits seem common with DS games. I enjoyed Spore for DS, despite its few frustrating moments. If a ‘casual gamer’ like me can defeat Gar’skuther, there’s hope for the universe yet.

Spore Creatures is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence.

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  • mystery

    can you put pictures of the plants(on planet guid)on? please