Review by Dave LeClair
In case you haven’t heard, Spore for the Mac and PC is huge right now, and EA knows how to spread a franchise around, and with the iPhone coming through as a new portable gaming powerhouse, it’s no surprise to see a spore branded product end up on the app store. The question is, does Spore Origins live up to it’s full game big brother, or does it fall short?
Spore Origins is a very simple game on the surface, but when you dive in and see all it has to offer it turns out to be a very deep game with a lot to offer. It’s clearly marketed towards the casual gamer, but that’s not to say there isn’t something there for the hardcore gamer as well.
If you have ever played Flow on the PS3 or Feeding Frenzy on the Xbox 360 than you will be familiar with Spore’s game play. You tilt your iPhone to move your cute little single celled organism around the level, all the while eating smaller organisms to increase your DNA bar. When your DNA bar is full, you move on to the next stage. Typically, a stage only takes about a minute or two, which is great for quick bursts of fun, but might be a turn off for gamers who are looking for a little more depth. Where some of the depth and skill does come into play is with combos. The key to beating a level fast and efficiently is linking together your snacks to gain more DNA.
Where this game really shines is in your creature customizing. You can color your little guy however you see fit, and as the game progresses, you can add “performance” pieces to him such as spikes, shields and mandibles, all of which make your organism a more effective eating machine. The customization kind of reminds of a good racing game like Forza 2, where you can really customize your look, as well performance. It was absolutely the customization that kept me wanting to play just one more level.
There is also a survival mode that is unlocked as you progress into the game. Basically, in survival mode, things you can eat and things that will hurt you float across the screen, the idea is to stay alive for as long as possible. I found this mode to be a lot of fun when I wanted just a quick burst of fun, but didn’t feel like getting sucked in to evolving my creature further.
I’m always a little concerned about games with tilt controls being too inaccurate, but Spore impressed me. It showed me that when tilt controls are done, well they can work very effectively, and can actually do just what you want them to.
The art style for Spore is perfect for the iPhone. There are no fancy PSP-type 3d visuals, just a nice simple 2d top down look. The game looks good though. It has a very nice feel to it, and I found that it just put me into a good mood. The very nice relaxing music didn’t hurt either. Between the music and sound of chomping up that DNA, Spore is one of the few games that I enjoyed playing with the volume on my iPhone up.
There is no doubt in my mind that Spore Origins is just a taste of the great things the iPhone is capable of as a portable gaming platform. It’s not a game fully geared to the hardcore, but there is still a ton of fun to be had here, and the awesome visual and audio polish helps big time.
Presentation & Graphics: 9
A very pleasant art style, and visuals that are among the best I’ve seen on the iPhone.
Enjoyable music, and sound effects that shockingly, (based on many other games I’ve reviewed) are not the least bit annoying.
Solid tilt controls that work very well, and an addicting main Evolution mode made it close to perfect. The survival mode is a very nice touch as well.
Game Life: 8
Lots of levels in the Evolution mode, and tons of things to unlock and customize your creature with. The game always kept me coming back for more.
Game rating: 9
Overall, spore is a great taste of what kind of game the iPhone is capable of having when a tallented group of developers get together and don’t just shovel garbage from another platform over. Spore is clearly built from the ground up to be on the iPhone, and it really couldn’t work on any other platform. I highly recomend picking it up, and with the price drop to $7.99, you’d be crazy not to.