I know Spore's Creature Creator has been making the rounds for months now, but yesterday was my first chance to get my hands on the thing and go to town on some critters of my own creation for the upcoming competition.
The stand-alone creator is a pretty straight-forward game. Launching it up brings you to a screen that lets you either create or load your own critters.
Once you drop into the creation mode you're presented with a floating blob of flesh, elongated at either end with stumpy tail-like or neck-like appendages. When you hover your cursor over the blob it becomes slightly transparent, exposing the vertebrae buried inside. An arrow appears over either stump as well. To shape your creature's body you tug on the arrows to stretch out the skin along an ever-extending backbone. You can also tug at the vertebrae to try and curve the spine and shape of the body.
Once you've shaped your body you can drop on arms, legs, mouths, eyes, noses, ears, hands, feet and other little appendages, like wings. Each of these can be twisted, stretched and moved about on the fly.
Initially the need for a backbone and the pre-set selection of body parts feels very limiting, but over time I found that I can create lots of things with a little creativity including spiders, snakes, cats, I even tried to create a Fruit Fucker... and almost succeeded. The one thing I can't seem to create is a human, I think the biggest issue there is that you can't add a separate head and instead have to rely on planing mouth, eyes, ears and such on the top of a knobby outgrowth of the spinal column. That's not a deal break at all though for me.
As you create your creature different icons give you a break down of its special abilities, like attacks and speed. Another button shows how complicated your critter is. If it gets too complicated you can't add any more parts. So no 100 mouthed balls of flesh.
Once completed you can paint the creature by either selecting among three pages of pre-set paint jobs or by painting the creature in three phases, still using pre-set stencils. The fact that you can choose just about any color and that you can control three different overlays of color makes customization pretty easy, though doing something really specific, like a black band over Fruit Fucker's eyes, is impossible.
Is it worth $10? Maybe, it is tons of fun to play around with, but I'm not sure if I'd want to shell out cash to get early hands-on time with something that will come built-in to a game I'm planning on buying. Then again it's only $10 and it's TONS of fun. Actually a little addictive.
Oh and the rough draft of that organic Fruit Fucker up there, I suspect that's what FF might look like in meat space. I also suspect this particular Fruit Fucker would be just as happy to have his way with human chest cavities as the odd orange.
Update: I just checked in with EA on the whole price thing. Here's the deal. You can get a trial version of the Creature Creator, which contains about a quarter of the creature parts, for free. If you do buy the creator for $10 you get a $5 rebate toward the full Spore game good at Target and Amazon.
Update 2: See him in motion!