Spore Hero - WII - Review
Many years ago, there was a children's software program called Monster Maker Math. The premise was that children earned monster body parts as they answered math questions correctly. These body parts were wacky and wonderful, and the monsters fun to design. Spore Hero reminds me of that game and has a lot of the same charm and whimsy.
The original Spore is a PC game that is a simulation game set in space, wherein players essentially have an enormous sandbox to create their own species and send them off to colonize and take over the universe. Spore Hero uses the same concept of monster design, but takes another tack of a platforming game with battles.
In Spore Hero, players will spend their time earning body parts for their monsters by completing simple quests, which range from fetching items for in-game characters to designing a monster according to certain criteria. The rewards for these quests are monster body parts.
These body parts all have different abilities, such as biting, spitting and kicking, which are used for fighting. Adding new body parts to monsters can also level up the monster. Upgrading the monster can occur at any time during the game.
The sole purpose of creating a monster is to see just how strange and wonderful one's creation can be. The monsters are fantastic and quite engaging to watch. The mechanics of their movements are highly fine-tuned and lend a total believability to the sight of a monster walking around on limbs that look quite unwieldy. Players can add any amount of appendages they desire for some very odd-looking creatures.
Not only are the monsters beautifully animated, but the entire world is wonderfully imagined. This is good, as players will spend a good bit of time running around, platform style, to satisfy all the quests. These quests are mostly "fetch" style types, where players will be trying to find an item. Oftentimes, these items are body parts that will enable the monster to acquire a skill that will enable it to access another area.
Besides running around and fetching things, the monsters will engage in battles. These battles are not very well-designed, and can be frustrating. The Wii control detection is hit-and-miss, and often times players will be madly moving their Wii-motes around like crazy with nothing happening as expected. There is a multi-player feature where players can fight other players, but again, the bad control detection works against this mode.
There is also a mini-game that is a rhythm dancing game, in which players will shake both the nunchuk and the Wii-mote. Again, this mini-game isn't as well-designed as it could be, mostly due to bad controls.
Spore Hero is a fun game in many ways, particularly for younger players, with a lot of charm and engaging play. Kids will love the wacky monsters, and there are lots of quests to occupy their time when not fighting. The monster design feature is deep and intricate, with a ton of body parts to earn and find. However, the fighting is very basic in concept, and not a whole lot of fun. Neither is the dancing mini-game.
The battle aspect would have been better served to be a turn-based design, akin to the system in Pokemon Battle Revolution. The leveling up would have more meaning if used strategically in this manner. These monsters are way more cool than the ones in Pokemon Battle Revolution, and the added strategy would have given more depth to add to the visual appeal.
Still, Hero Spore is fun and cute, and the monster design aspect is quite enjoyable. Young kids will love the monsters, and won't mind the similarity of the quests. The battles, though, may frustrate younger players because of the bad detection.
The premise is unique and the monsters highly entertaining, but the fighting and overall gameplay is weak. Bad controls make for a frustrating experience at times.
The game is beautifully detailed and animated.
The music and sound effects are good, with some great theme music.
The game is not overly difficult in theory, but the battles can be a bit tough due to unpredictable controls.
The concept is great, and with a better attention to some design issues, this game could have been a great game for the Wii, similar to Animal Crossing or Rune Factory in terms of charm and creativity. However, the bad battle design and lackluster dancing game brings down the experience a bit.
Spore Hero has some great features. The monster-making in and of itself is deep and satisfying, and engaging. There are tons of body parts, and the manner in which players will earn them through the quests has the potential to keep players questing away. Unfortunately, the battles and dancing games aren't nearly as well-designed, and cannot be avoided. Best for older children who aren't easily frustrated.