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Review: Spore Origins

September 11, 2008
Overview Spore Origins has been one of the most highly-anticipated games for the iPhone. It evolved onto the platform on September 5 with a splash. It allows users to take an amoeba-like creature into the evolutionary process by avoiding bigger organisms intent on playing "survival of the fittest" and gobbling up smaller critters.


One thing I appreciated immediately about the game is the depth of the graphics. From the first animated sequence of the asteroid impacting earth and releasing the spores to the actual gameplay, Spore is a visual feast.

The first time you start up Spore Origins, you'll be prompted to create your creature, and then you'll spend the first few levels with an interactive tutorial on how to play. Essentially, you'll use the iPhone's accelerometer to navigate your creature from the "primordial ooze" to land. Each successful level completed allows you to "evolve" your creature. You choose the features to apply to your organism. I quickly chose claw-like weapons for my first significant evolution after seeing the scary mandibles of the larger organisms out to make me extinct.

You are allowed to shove bubbles into the jaws of pursuing baddies, and you can pick up energy, speed, shields, and more as you navigate yourself around. Honestly, it felt a little like an advanced game of the old arcade Asteroids at times - without the ability to fire lasers - but maybe I could evolve some of those big guns?

Some features that are missing from this version of the game are the ability to prevent screen dimming, audio muting, and creature export. Fans of the PC software will bemoan the fact that you can't export or share your iPhone creature across platforms. Will someone really want to spend hours playing this game on the iPhone when you have a much fuller-featured game available for your desktop?


Spore Origins will probably live up to its hype. It is fun, and you have the ability to save your game and character, so you don't have to start over. I received a phone call in the middle of game play. I was pleased to discover that after hanging up, the game reloaded and picked up at the beginning of the last level I was on. I was disappointed, however, that it didn't simply start where I left it. If you're a serious gamer, you might want to enable airplane mode to turn off interruptions during gameplay. The graphics were fluid, and I didn't experience a single hiccup during the dozen levels I worked through. The interactions were great, and it kept me interested. I doubt, however, that this will be one of those games I'll come back to often. It just seems too tedious. I never got into The Sims, and this game just had that kind of feel. In spite of the action involved, I couldn't quite convince myself that I was having a blast with it. "Ooooo, tilt my iPhone again and avoid that big amoeba," just doesn't have the feel of a game like Billy Frontier in which I can blow away the bad guys with a six shooter or a racing game like Asphalt 4 Elite Racing.


I suspect my review of Spore Origins will be toasted by others. There are just too many folks who love this game. For graphics, sound, and depth of game play, it is definitely going to be a strong contender. I just don't think it will have lasting appeal. After taking all the time to evolve your creature, will gamers create another organism? How many amoebas can you eat before you're sick to your stomach (if you added that evolutionary feature) and ready to move on to another game?

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