Creatures Village, by Kutoka Interactive, lets kids enjoy the benefits of pet ownership—including lessons about responsibility, and the cycle of life—while saving parents from all of the hassles—late night walks, shredded socks, and seriously unpleasant cleanup duties.
In Creatures Village, players take care of virtual pets, called Norns. These weird, big-eyed creatures hatch from eggs and operate independently, exploring their world and learning to interact with their surroundings. Using a cursor interface that looks like a glove, you can try to influence them—for example, you guide them by the hand to an object or area you’d like them to explore.
To reinforce positive and negative behavior, you’ll a jet sprayer of water (to punish Norns for doing bad things), or an item called a Stickle (to tickle Norns—something they like). Training Norns requires a lot of patience; they don’t usually learn what you want them to do on the first try.
The game includes different environments, each with a myriad of 3-D objects that your Norn can interact with. For example, the game room offers a basketball hoop and ball, while the village features domestic animals. By successfully completing certain activities, you’ll win new toys or costumes for your Norns.
The game also features some realistic aspects of the life cycle of a pet. Two Norns can reproduce if they like each other (don’t worry—it’s all very chaste. A simple kiss is all Norns need to mate). The female Norn then lays an egg, producing a new Norn that combines the genetic traits of its parent. You’re then responsible for training that one, too. Norns also grow old and die, ultimately ending up in a graveyard for Norns that have passed on to the big village in the sky.
Despite the game’s genetics component, there isn’t much substance to Creatures Village. You’ll run out of things to do with your Norns after just a few hours of playing. And the game’s interface—which has been kept simple to appeal to younger players—is frustratingly awkward. For example, I would have appreciated a map for navigating to different parts of the village.
Sluggishness is another problem. While the Mac I used exceeded the game’s system requirements (a 700 MHz G3), I still found it cursed with a slow frame rate and stilted responses.
The bottom line
Creatures Village gives younger players an idea of what virtual pet-ownership is like, but it’s also cursed with some frustrating shortcomings.