A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Spore Creature Creator is a pre-release of a section of the highly anticipated game, Spore, from The Sims creator Will Wright. It allows the player to create creatures that will eventually populate the final game, thanks to the ability to send your creations to an online Sporepedia. This review is based on the free downloadable version, but there is also a larger version that offers more body parts for $9.99.
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What's it about?
The SPORE CREATURE CREATOR is really just a warmup to the September release of Spore, one of this year's most highly anticipated games. A clever marketing play, this free download gets players excited about the possibilities of the upcoming title. Even though this is just a small sample of the final title, it does contain enough entertainment value to be worth downloading just to flex some creativity muscles.
Using the intuitive and well laid-out design screens, it's as easy as dragging and dropping limbs, mouths, and eyes to the blob which eventually takes on a persona all its own, based on the type of items added to the body. Long slender legs make for a fast creature, while no legs force the creature to move like a slug or snake. Each creature starts out with a body with a fully flexible and expandable backbone, and as each item is added, it too can be made larger or smaller all with easy clicks of the mouse button.
Is it any good?
After tweaking all your additions to the creature, it's time to add some color to the skin and see how it looks in motion. The look of each creature is unique. Applying colors in the paint shop are done automatically via "procedural generation," which is a fancy way of saying the computer handles all the intricate details to make your creature look fantastic. Once your creature is ready, you can set it out on a test drive of sorts to see how the animal moves and behaves. In this mode it becomes possible to capture not only still photographs of the creature, but also record small animations that are playable on any computer. You can also record longer movies, thanks to a partnership with YouTube.com. These longer videos are easy to upload to www.youtube.com to share with the rest of the world.
The sheer ease of creation makes this editor unlike any other on the market, and the fact that it's going to be so seamlessly intertwined within a full working game makes it that much more amazing and entertaining. Within seconds of starting this editor, a new fully working creation can be roaming around your computer screen. Please note this review was based on the free trial version of the Creature Creator. The full retail version contains up to four times more items to use to make your creatures and sells for $9.99.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences that make up individual creatures both in the game as well as the real world. Why do some types of feet or legs make things run faster, while others make for strong but slow creatures. They can also discuss items ranging from evolution to genetics, as the final Spore game is said to feature creatures that mate to spawn hybrid offspring.
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