At another Electronic Arts event, this time down in Los Angeles, we got another opportunity to check out Spore Hero for the Nintendo Wii. This is an entirely new game built specifically for the Wii, in which you'll play as a hero that is destined to save the planet. The easy-to-use creature creator is included, of course, so you can customize and evolve your creature as the game goes on. The story unfolds as you help the locals by completing a variety of quests, which will also earn you new parts. We had previously gotten a glimpse of the new planet that our hero had landed on, but this time we were given a tour of the beautiful underground area called the Bioluminescent Forest. We couldn't actually play the game, but we watched as our hero picked delectable moon fruit from vines and continued to evolve with the body parts it acquired.
Before you can make it to the forest, your hero's nemesis--coincidentally named Nemesis--will be found blocking the entrance. When you crash-landed on the planet on a blue meteor, the red meteor that landed with you was the troublemaker. Nemesis evolves just as you do, and this was the first time our hero had to face him. It took a couple of tries before our demonstrator beat him in a fight, so this was a good time to swap around parts, considering that the current set wasn't working out. At this point in the game, you can swing the Nunchuk to make the hero spit, causing damage from a distance. Depending on what kinds of parts you put on, you can generally strike by swinging the Wii Remote, bite with the B button, and press A to jump. You can even pull off combos if you jump and swing, which performs an aerial attack.
With Nemesis defeated for now, we watched as our creature cleared the red meteor in its path and entered the Bioluminescent Forest. The forest is actually an underground cavern, sparsely decorated with tangled vines, plants that punch you with their tongues, and glowing moon fruit. The fruit is aptly named, given that it illuminates the cavern with its soft glow. We were told that this fruit is a hot commodity and that the locals love it. This was immediately made obvious when our character ran into a couple of creatures who wouldn't budge until they received some luminescent fruit.
The underground forest consisted of many ledges as well as large pools of water that would be a hazard if it weren't for your ability to evolve whenever you acquire new parts. Right before our character entered the area, it picked up a pair of wings that you can attach in the creature creator--located at every nest--so that you can easily glide from one ledge to another without the danger of falling into the water. As our character made its way around the cave and explored all of the nooks and crannies, it eventually found some fins, which enabled it to swim and thereby granted access to a wider area.
The parts you collect are random to an extent. We were told that by a certain point in the game, if you are going to need a specific part, such as fins, you will eventually stumble across it. Also, if you like the general look of your character, each upgraded part that you get will be a better version of the one you have on. Sometimes creatures you meet will want to burst into song, which launches a singing minigame. You'll hold A and tilt the controller to match what the other creature is doing to fill up a bar onscreen. Depending on your mouthpiece, your bar could fill up faster, and different types of mouth parts will provide your creature with different voices. There are more than 250 parts to collect, and most players probably won't be able to get them all during one play-through, but there's definitely an endless amount of customization.
After we made our rounds in the cavern, we went back to the area we saw in our first demo to meet up with Beauty and Beast again. In our last demo, we had beautified Beast (also using the creature creator) so that Beauty would be attracted to him. This time, Beauty was a bit bummed when we approached her, so we watched as our hero busted out with some smooth dance moves to cheer her up. This started a short rhythm game that involved shaking the remote and Nunchuk to the beat. After our routine, it seemed that Beauty wanted Beast to be scary again so he could be a better protector, so we watched as the EA rep transformed the once-pretty Beast back into an intimidating-looking creature with spikes. His ponytail remained, so Beauty wasn't 100 percent satisfied with Beast's transformation, but it was still good enough. For quests like this, there are three levels of success you can achieve when you complete them. Your success rating can determine what kind of part you'll receive.
Spore Hero seems to be targeting a Wii audience who wants an action role-playing game that's lighthearted, funny, and readily accessible. The procedural animations give the characters a lot of personality, and the environments that we've seen so far are inviting and fun to explore. We'll have a chance to see more of Spore Hero before its fall release and hopefully get some hands-on time at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.