Hands On: Spore On iPhone Is Pretty Much FlOwS

Got to check out Spore running on iPhone at EA's E3 booth, a version of the game that focuses exclusively on the "Cell" phase. You're essentially a little blob swimming through the primordial soup, snapping up smaller amoebas as you go and avoiding the large, ugly spikier ones. Your objective? Make it to the sandy shore, where hopefully you can stand on two feet like a real freak of nature.

The recent launch of iPhone games has demonstrated that the phone has the potential to be a great-looking game platform graphically, and Spore is no exception. In fact, it looks fantastic — it's color-rich, featuring numerous mesmerizing layers of parallax that give glimpses of the next layer's challenges slipping by in the distance on your way up through the ooze.

I got to give it a whirl — a tilt?

Yes, a tilt, because iPhone Spore is played pretty much entirely through the accelerometer, which means you direct your swimmy blob by tilting the phone gently in various directions. It strikingly resembles playing flOw on the PS3 using the Sixaxis, as you navigate a vague creature through shifting layers trying to snap up other organisms.

You shape and color your creature using the touch screen. I'm a little concerned that for truly customizing and shaping your blob to work and work well, they'll have to get the touch controls really spot-on, and that's been a bit of an issue for me at times with some iPhone games. The build I saw for Spore on the iPhone was very early, and the producer told me that they'll be focusing intently on toning that up.

You can add one new body part to your blob at each stage of the soup, starting with one and then tacking on one more each time you evolve. I was told there would be bosses every so often, too, so the player will have to make the call as to whether to add eyes to increase the range at which you can eat amoebas, or, say, a big horn on your face to ward off aggressors.

The tilt controls take a lot of getting used to, for me — I'm not so wizard at Super Monkey Ball, either. But they seem to work very well for iPhone Spore, which seems to capture the Spore aesthetic in a simpler, portable and not-too-intense way for a mobile game.