Spore Hero Review
Will Wright’s Spore, which arrived last year on PC after years of anticipation, has earned one adjective above all else: ambitious. Whatever your opinions on the final release, the genre-spanning, era-hopping title was one of the most amazingly realized explorations of a single topic in video game form ever. The topic in question? Evolution.
EA’s new Wii spin-off of the franchise, Spore Hero, has a decidedly scaled-back scope. Instead of melding several different genres into a galaxy-wide journey to the top of the food chain, Spore Hero sticks to a single planet and the well-tested 3D platforming and questing normally found in Mario or Zelda games.
As far as gameplay goes, Maxis seems to know its audience quite well, and they do a suitable job of emulating the successes of other popular Wii releases. You crash-land on a planet and begin by choosing body parts for your adolescent hero. As you evolve your creature and complete quests for the planet’s natives, you uncover new body parts and unlock new skills that will allow you to reach more areas and run more quests. It’s carrot-on-a-stick design philosophy at its simplest, and it works.
What’s disappointing, though, is how much this setup ignores the original appeal of Spore. You’re no longer designing and evolving your own special form of life, because the body parts have stats that must be upgraded to progress. Does the creature you’ve imagined in your head have fins instead of wings? Doesn’t matter, because you need to make room for both in order to finish the single-player adventure. Inevitably, you’ll want to upgrade to level two swimming and flying, limiting the options on body parts even more.
I should stress that Spore is an enjoyable (if slightly short) Zelda-lite adventure. However, the creation and evolution aspects -- major parts of what made the original game so impressive -- have taken a back seat to a run-of-the-mill equipment upgrade grind with some minor aesthetic variations. Spore Hero is a fun game; it’s just not necessarily a Spore game.