J JamesGames.com Spore Hero Arena

Spore Hero Arena

(Originally published 11/18/2009)
By: James Oppenheim | Created: 2012-05-23 02:19:42 | (Updated: 0000-00-00 00:00:00)

Like many of legendary game designer Will Wright's universes before Spore, this one is being churned-out into a variety of titles some of which bear only glancing similarity to the original beyond the name. Rather than enriching the series, giving new dimension to an idea found in the original product, Spore Hero Arena cheapens the franchise.

Spore, one of the most anticipated games of the decade, was perhaps a bit of a let down from the hype that led up to its release. Ambitious and audacious, in the course of a single game you moved from single celled life form to space faring civilization. On the other hand, the game borrowed heavily from traditional models from Pac-Man to Simon to Age of Empires. Those that hoped for a game that could be accessible to casual gamers, but also supply layered, complex strategy for those who wanted to delve further, were probably disappointed. However, Spore undeniably sparked an explosion of creativity with millions of creatures, vehicles and structures being created by end-users.

Now, a year later, EA has released a number of games with Spore in the title, but which are not sequels or remakes either. Speaking evolutionarily, I think they are parasites, feeding on the good will of the original design.

The DS title is essential a combat game with a creature creator. There are already countless numbers of similar games. Spore Hero Arena might have distinguished itself from the pack by focusing on the "science" aspects of creature creation - the "why" and "how" things work. In that way, by focusing on "evolution" and "natural selection" concepts, the games could have stimulated the way kids think about science. Instead, this is just another combat game....there are dozens of such titles and in my opinion aren't very important parts of growing up.

Worse, the game's controls, graphics, and sound would hardly be worthy of consideration if not for the "Spore" label on the box. It doesn't feel like Will Wright was actively (if at all?) involved in the design of this game.

When evaluating a video game, consider for a moment all of the other things your child might be doing with his or her time: reading a book, daydreaming, playing ball, listening to music. That might just give you pause when deciding on whether to "invest" in this video game.

- details -