I’ll admit it—I’m a big fan of the PC version of Spore. Who doesn’t like creating a society from primordial sludge to galactic conquest? Unfortunately, Spore Creatures for the iPhone is not quite as expansive or impressive as the original Spore—in fact, it’s watered-down a lot. EA Games has created a beautiful 3-D world—there just isn’t much to do there.
In Spore Creatures you start out as a little creature just trying to survive. There are four “chapters,” each of which contains a number of “levels,” including a boss level. The boss levels require a bit more thinking than the regular bite-and-dodge strategy of Spore, but are still pretty straightforward.
As you progress through each level, you are required to use your smarts to survive, manipulate objects (such as pushing stones into crevices, or dragging land-mine type bombs in front of rocks), and either befriend or fight other groups of creatures. How you evolve your creature, of course, will help determine how you interact with other creatures—will you have a stellar defense system and lots of charm, or will you have a nasty bite?
To control your creature, you use the iPhone’s accelerometer to tip and tilt it throughout the world. This was a bit difficult to get the hang of and the controls are far from precise. Luckily, there aren’t too many tremendously tricky areas to navigate, so the lack of precision doesn’t affect game play too much (though it was very annoying). You can set the relative tilt angle (or, how much tilt is “neutral”), which was a nice thought even though it didn’t make it any easier to control.
Your creature’s ultimate goal is to become one of the top dogs in the world of Spore. In order to do this, it must eat smaller creatures (to eat creatures, simply tip your way toward them and your creature will lunge at them once it is close enough), survive dangerous obstacles (such as rocks spewing poison and plants shooting darts), and interact effectively with other groups of creatures. You can approach other groups of creatures in one of two stances—a friendly stance or a fighting stance. In order to change your stance, simply tap the stance button in the lower right corner of the screen, and you will switch back and forth from friendly to fighting.
To make friends with other creatures, you must impress them by getting what they want. They’ll think of something (shells, gems, or colored stones), and you will have to find the objects and bring them back. If you impress all of the creatures in a colony (3), you’ll earn a new part. Likewise, to fight other creatures all you have to do is tap them—and if you defeat a colony of creatures, you’ll earn a new part.
The graphics are particularly well done—colors are bright and crisp, and the developers do a good job of depicting the world in 3D. The only real disappointment was game time—the four “chapters” are pretty easy to get through (if you’re dedicated, it takes a couple of hours), and after that there’s not much room for replayability. You can create another creature, but the creature will end up going through the exact same levels and bosses as previous creatures—and this gets tedious quickly. There’s also no multiplayer option.
Overall, Spore Creatures is a satisfactory not stellar experience—it’s interesting, it features good graphics and sound effects, and it uses the accelerometer. However, it gets boring pretty quickly and the controls are annoying. There was also a large amount of loading time between each level. If you’re a fan of the Spore franchise and you’re not looking for anything terribly stimulating, I’d go for Spore Creatures—but if you’re looking for anything more, it’s not really worth the $6.99.
[Sarah Jacobsson is a frequent contributor to Macworld.]