Spore: Creatures Preview: The Next StepS

For those of you that longed to take your Spore: Origins creature onto dry land for the next step in the evolutionary process, this iPhone game is for you.

For those of you who missed that evolutionary step, here's what happened: You created a microbe through a streamlined version of the Spore interface and then used the accelerometer to tilt your creature around endless levels of a primordial ocean. As you bumped into smaller microbes that you could eat or bigger ones that you had to fight or flee from, you gained DNA and were able to increase in size. You could also edit parts of your creature, so such as color and specific body parts that helped you fight or flee.

What Is It?
Spore: Creatures is an adventure game much like Origins — only now we're on dry land with other evolved lifeforms. Players still control their creature by tilting the iPhone in different directions to move and can accelerate them toward other creatures by tapping the creature with your finger. The game adds a social interaction layer, has a total of 45 different parts to customize your creature with and four other abilities in addition to socialization. There are four zones in the game total with an "Epic" boss at the end of each.

Spore: Creatures Preview: The Next StepS

What We Saw
I played through an early level of the game and fought one boss that required you to push poisonous mushrooms at it.

How Far Along Is It?
Near final. No release date has been provided, however.

What Needs Improvement?
Quicksand Is a Drag: There are various environmental hazards your creature can fall victim to as you tilt your iPhone around. Quicksand is by far the most frustrating because you've got the shake the iPhone to free your creature — which could bring on a sudden case of Dropped iPhone for a klutz like me.

You Can't Fall In Love: The social interaction is limited to making friends or enemies. You make friends by bringing certain creatures certain items; you make enemies by attacking other creatures. That's about as deep as the socialization gets. You can't "apologize" to creatures you attacked and you can't fall in love.

It's Pretty, But... I really, really liked how in Origins the world around you changed as you changed. Like at first the background was a hazy, faraway thing that suddenly sharpened and came closer as your creature grew. I just don't get that sense of accomplishment or wonder from Creatures.

Spore: Creatures Preview: The Next StepS

What Should Stay The Same?
Steady Progression: The game has a structure I didn't get with Origins. When you know you've got to beat a boss in a level to get an epic skill, it gives you a goal to work for instead of roaming around wantonly eating crustaceans.

It's Super Cute: In addition to being able to make your creature a whole lot cuter and less sperm-like than a microbe could ever be. Also, one of the bosses was called King Mussle-Ups or some such — and yes, he was a mussel. Hilarious!

Someday We'll Get To Space: If Spore on the iPhone continues the steady trend of evolution, that means that someday we'll get to space. I cannot express in words how much the idea excites me.

Final Thoughts
If evolution is essentially small changes made over time to a core being, then I supposed Creatures fits the bill. However, I can't help but feel like the added features that make Creatures more like a video game than Origins might be some kind of step backward for people who liked the aimless roaming in Origins.