I actually enjoyed Spore more on the iPhone than I did on the PC, but that’s not really saying much. This is the second Spore game for the iPhone, the first being Origins, with Creatures being a different and more robust game than the first. You don’t need to have played Origins to understand Creatures.
In Spore Creatures, you control a creature that has just crawled out of the primordial soup, so to speak, and you’re ready to test your evolutionary mettle on dry land. Using tilt controls, you explore the land, looking for food and new species that you can fight or befriend to gain new species traits to help you claw your way up the evolutionary ladder. You must also negotiate the terrain, which is populated by killer plants, treacherous quicksand, and other dangerous perils.
Coming from Will Wright (creator of The Sims and SimCity) and EA Games, I had some very high expectations on the design front, and it doesn’t disappoint on that end. Creatures is about as polished as can be with truly stunning artwork, great music, and super-clean interface. The tilt controls are a little difficult to manage, especially combined with the complicated environment. You can get stuck on occasion, but for the most part, I found the controls easy enough to maneuver.
There are a large number of levels, all spread out over various types of terrain. Unlocking them all usually requires some kind of evolutionary upgrade, and it’s a challenge to collect all of the various upgrades available. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of variation between the levels, and it gets repetitive quickly. The game suffers from a case of high expectations. It looks so good, you can’t help but be seriously disappointed when you realize that there just isn’t enough substance behind the style, but the creature customization tool is a lot of fun, and you could easily waste a lot of time crafting a fleet of wacky looking species.
Ultimately, Spore Creatures is a great-looking and super-polished game, but it doesn’t really offer anything new. I enjoyed the game, largely because it’s one of the most professional looking games available on the iPhone, but it is still too simple to be truly satisfying (a complaint I also had about the PC version). Because it’s not very complicated, it might make a good introduction to RPG-style play for older kids, but don’t go into it expecting too much if you’re a hardened gamer.
Here is a video demo of the Spore Creatures app on the iPhone
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