Spore Hero for Wii - fun but limited.

User Rating: 6 | Spore Hero WII
Since I don't have a computer with the capability to run the original Spore game, I've been waiting with bated breath for the promised Wii version ever since the rumours first began.

I grabbed Spore Hero the day it was released and took it home to give it a spin. I've been playing for about five days now and I seem to be about a third of the way through the game, judging by how many parts I've collected.

It took me a short while to realise that I had bought a children's game. Spore Hero is a charming game when you first begin; but soon you realise it's shortcomings. One such failing is the premise behind the story. You are told that the red meteors have landed on the planet and are causing problems for the peaceful creatures that live there. This is all very well and good, but after a few days of play I've stopped and thought to myself, why am I supposed to save the planet? Apparently I'm the only creature who is "immune" to the strange red crystals that the meteor left behind. This doesn't feel like enough though. It isn't clear what my origins are and how I ended up in this place. Your overall aim seems vague and ill-thought out by the designers.

Another big problem with Spore Hero is the battle controls. There are a range of different moves you can use to beat up your opponents; spit, kick, strike, charge, bite etc., however the controls for the moves can be very confusing, e.g., to do a dive attack, you must press the A button and shake the Nunchuk. For a spit attack, hold B and shake the Nunchuk... for kick, hold B and shake the Wii remote... and the list goes on. The controls need to be more varied. It's a real pain trying to remember the right combination for 10+ controls when you're in battle, and battles are a key component of advancing through this game.

The issue of repetition also comes up in Spore Hero. You have to do things multiple times for no apparent reason, for example defeating the Sing Master. This is a really tedious challenge where you tilt your Wii remote and press A in time with the Sing Master's singing. It seems to be laziness on the part of the game designer's. Why do you have to go through this challenge five times? Sure, you receive a new part each time you defeat him, but it is maddeningly frustrating when you fail and have to re-try it. Again, it seems more variation is needed. Different kinds of challenges instead of redoing the same ones over and over would really spice up this game.

Another big fault in my opinion is the lack of any online sharing of your Spore Hero creations. This seemed like such an integral part of the original version that it seems ridiculous to exclude such a feature on the Wii. I've had a think about this and I suppose the exclusion of online sharing is to encourage more of that kiddy market. I'm guessing the makers thought that there was a risk parents would avoid games with online elements, as this could expose their kids to some "inappropriate" creature creations (though with the limited freedom you have with the creator in Spore Hero, I'm not sure that's even possible).

The limited creature creator is also another drawback of this game. Most of the time I end up with really stupid-looking creatures because it's just not customisable enough.

Don't get me wrong here. Spore Hero is a fun and entertaining game if you look at it one way. The creature creator is still lots of fun to use, and collecting parts is a lot of fun. It's a pretty addictive game, and I sometimes think that it's easiness is a sort of advantage. After all, it is hard to find the time to play through a complex game like Zelda: The Twilight Princess, but Spore Hero is easy enough for anyone to pick up and play straight away.

The battles can be pretty fun, too. They can be quite challenging in that you really need to be alert and ready to defend yourself or strike when the opportunity presents itself. As you advance, the battles quickly become quite difficult, and this makes the sense of accomplishment much greater when you knock that rival of yours down.

All up; Spore Hero is a game with interesting concepts behind it - such as the creature creator, and having to find parts with which to evolve yourself. However, it really is made for children and does not last long (I expect I will be finished it in another week or so). If you're like me, and have been waiting for the Wii version of Spore, this is sure to disappoint. I'd probably miss this one if I had known it would be such a simple, stripped-down version of the original.