A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spore Hero Arena is target toward slightly younger audience than the popular PC/Mac game, Spore; and that it is a completely separate game from the Wii version called Spore Hero. This game is a solid choice for kids old enough to read, but too young for the open-world online universe the PC version offers. Kids will find the most engaging feature of the PC game, the Creature Creator, in this game in a more limited, but still satisfying form. Kids can play a single player, storyline that guides younger players through missions or battle with others using Nintendo Wi-Fi or the DS local connection.
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What's it about?
Players start SPORE HERO ARENA by using the Creature Creator to build a custom character that includes legs, mouth, eyes, horns, tails, and body shape. In the single player story, your creature crash land's on a strange planet. From there, you must travel to different planets collecting ship parts and piece of blue meteor, a special substance that will help save the galaxy. You'll also battle other, evil characters who have been effected by bits of red metor. Along the way, you must upgrade and \"evolve\" your creature to complete missions, win battles, and collect items. These upgrades include special fighting powers such as fire-spitting, whirlwind spinning attacks, and others. In the Multiplayer mode, you can either fight one friend using local wireless or up to 3 others who own the game using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. You can also trade creatures.
Is it any good?
At the core of Spore Hero Arena is the Creature Creator, the tool that lets you upgrade and customize your character. This system works remarkably well for a handheld format and makes for nearly limitless creations. The battles, set in arenas similar to boxing rings, are less well designed and can be a little frustrating; opponents overpower your creature easily, and the small-screen/mediocre graphics, make characters' moves difficult to follow at times. Fortunately, the Wi-Fi battling and trading characters plus unique character building make for a good (though not great) experience.
Online interaction: Online interaction involves battling friends or strangers via WiFi matching or direct connection to other DS handhelds. Players can also access the Sporepedia to see and trade creatures with others.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how creatures are all unique and different. As with real animals and humans, Spore Hero Arena is full of different races and species. What similarities and differences between our world and Spore's do you notice?
Is playing a creature you've created and customized more fun than playing a pre-made character? Do you feel more attached to an avatar that you created?
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