Whilst I await my computer, I’ll do a video game review. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. If you or your kids like “sandbox” games, this is an excellent game. My kids started doing the creature creator as preschoolers and the whole game around age 7. This geek has been playing it since launch.

I’m not going to get into the spinoffs, this is the main PC game.

Spore – 2008 – the myth, the legend, the downfall…

Spore’s Teasers:

Spore was an awesome game that was teased at the E3 games in 2007 and launched in 2008. It was a widely anticipated game. It was originally named “Sim Everything” because of the large amount of control players have.

A Sandbox Games is defined as a video game that lets players create almost anything they want, coined from playing in a literal sandbox. There may or may not be tasks or goals, but there are often multiple ways of achieving it.

Spore Trailer from E3 2008

Japan calls sandbox games “Non-Game Games” or “Software Toys” because the focus of the game isn’t the quests, it’s the freedom to create and explore. (Much like hand held toys).

Spore “trial” by EA Games/Maxis

The game launched with a demo available to purchase (I think it was $10) that allowed you to get familiar with the creature creation portion of the game without being fully submerged into the Spore world. The demo was called Spore Creature Creator.

With the launch of the demo came the online collection of creations called Sporepedia. Players could choose to share their creations and also download other players creations (which plays into the main game). It was a little ahead of it’s time, game wise, as content shared could be favorited.

Needless to say, this easily boosted the hype.

Official Launch:

Along with the Creature Creator capabilities, this included actual gameplay to use your premade creatures. The ones you favorited on Sporepedia? They are now incorporated into your “world”. You may run into yours or someone else’s creation as a neighbor, a predator or prey, or maybe the random alien abduction… You could set the creature spawner to random and favorite any new creature you may come across, and thankfully had the option to perma-ban creations or creators (like all the teenage boys who decided to make creatures phallic in shape or name).

a short lived ad because the graphics in the animated short were more advanced than the game… causing upset. It is still a fascinating ad.
Spore, base game by EA Games/Maxis

There were complaints about the game, but it was minimal. Hard core gamers complained it was too silly or easy. Others complained that the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board – America) rating went up to ~gasp~ E10+, or PEGI (Pan European Game Information – Europe) 12.

The game was awesome though and was widely well received. ~I’m sitting here staring at my original CD copy and the cover still has the price of $49.99 on it. I am laughing…

Game stages:

In the story mode, each stage is influenced by your actions in the previous stage. The way you play your creation will ultimately decide its personality traits.

The Cell stage:

The gameplay of Spore, although a sandbox world, involved evolution stages. The first of these stages was the Cell stage. This stage is largely based on the scientific concept Panspermia. You are a single celled microorganism. You have to survive in a fluid based environment differently based on if you are a carnivore or herbivore. (The way you eat here is considered the “personality trait” of this stage).

Movements are decided based on cilia or flagella (real science words); want to be an omnivore? Get yourself a proboscis (more science). You continue eating and “mating” your way through evolution until you finally develop a brain. LOL

Mating is not graphic in nature, you have hearts appear between 2 of the same species and boom, you get to evolve the creature.

Science!

Panspermia – Greek for “all” (pan) “seed” (spermia). The hypothesis is that life exists throughout the universe. Although “life” is a term some people want to argue. Microorganisms have been found in samples from other planets, asteroids, meteorites, etc. This often gets confused with “sentient life”, which means intelligent life forms. The concept began way back in 5th century BC Greece by a philosopher Anaxgoras. It didn’t become a legit hypothesis until 1903 by Svante Arrhenius (one of the original founders of Physical Chemistry). This is still being studied today, especially at the space station. The late Stephen Hawking even spoke on this.


the Creature stage:
Sweet Forest Gump, I’m sure many of us relate…

You have finally grown a brain and ventured out of the water… even if you don’t have legs (the choice is yours).

Unlike the Character Creator portion, your body parts are limited in the story line. You have to go around and find parts to be able to use, not to mention DNA points, which are used as currency for evolutions. You can find parts from killing others, whether in self defense or as a predator; befriending other species; destroying plants; the list goes on. (Should you not like your creation, you can always go in and edit it in the Creature Creator later as a future species). Be sure you are happy with your creation before moving to the next stage…

There are 3 personality traits you can use here: predator, social, and adaptable.

Mating is how you evolve, once again. Even more hearts and is accompanied by a “mating dance”.


Tribe Stage:

Tools! Your creature starts using tools, (whether it is physically built for this or it moves like an epic disaster is your choice). Along with using said tools, your task is to unite all the tribes, Kill them all or make allies. Personality traits are aggressive, friendly, or industrious.

Your creation will also start to unlock “coverings”, can’t have your sentient creature running around in the buff.

George of the Jungle describing loincloths

Tribe Stage is different from the previous stages because this is the first time you are in control of multiple creatures (your tribe). This stage is set up similar to Real Time Strategy (RTS) games.


Civilization stage:
Pinky and The Brain, focused on world domination.

Ah, your species is becoming civilized. Design buildings and land/water/air vehicles. Traverse the world and decide how you will govern your cities. Take over the world!

Use your power over the military, start trade routes, or spread your pseudo religion to conquer the neighboring cities. But don’t forget to enforce your own.


Space stage:

This stage is based on philosophical notion the “Mediocrity Principle“. At this point you can travel the universe and interact with other space travelers (NPCs), fix the ecosystems in underdeveloped planets, complete random missions. Look on in horror as you forget to use the gravity beam while placing creatures on other planets, accidently dropping them to their squishy end. At this point, you will also encounter the mean species, the Grox. You will never be able to diplomatically handle them, so no matter how you play, you will have to have weapons at this stage.

This is the largest part of the game. It is said there are around 500,000 planets available to travel to in this stage. All your games are connected, you may be able to find the other planets you created. The Milky Way is hidden in the game and you can even find Earth… (I never found it). Not only can you fly around the “old way”, but you can use Black Holes as worm hole travel.

Your previous personality decisions now come into play. Depending on how you played the previous stages will give you 1 of 9 Archetypes: Bard (Philosophy of Chance), Diplomat (… Order), Ecologist (… Life), Knight (… Force), Scientist (… Science), Shaman (… Harmony), Trader (… Prosperity), Warrior (… Force), and Zeatot (… Faith). The exception to this is the 10th archetype, the Wanderer (Philosophy of Order), which is only obtained by skipping all the previous stages and starting in the Space Stage.

Your Galaxy in Spore

Mediocrity Principal – to simplify it, there are other planets in the universe with Earth like ecosystems. It cycles back to Panspermia… life is everywhere and with the right atmosphere it can evolve.

Expansions and spin-offs:

Expansions:
Spore Creepy & Cute parts pack, by EA Games/Maxis

During 2008, after the initial release, the parts pack Creepy & Cute came out. This included 120 new items, body parts, and emotes/animations. This also allowed additional painting of skin/textures.

This didn’t affect gameplay, but if you were heavy into creature creation, this was an excellent addition.

Spore Galactic Adventures, by EA Games/Maxis

This heavily affected gameplay in the Space Stage. Gone were the days where you could only have a hologram on the worlds’ surfaces. You could now explore lands, take on first person missions. This expansion introduced RPG elements into the vast universe.

The SIM elements are still here as you can now create missions, make “movies” using your creatures in the adventure creator, and other elements.

This short film was released as part of the Spore Galatic Edition, a special collectors edition.

Disappointingly, future planned expansions were scrapped. Some stages that were in development were a Molecular Stage, an Aquatic Stage, a City Stage, and a Terraforming Stage.

Sometimes you can still find concept art and videos about these stages.

Spin-offs, the dishonorable mentions, and the death of a series:

Maxis ended up coming out with smaller games focusing on elements within Spore, so you could download the creature creator or the cell stage for mobile devices, Nintendo had some Spore Hero games that focused on the RPG elements of Galactic Adventures.

A lot of these were not well received and bombarded the fan base with poor quality products rather than continuing to expand on the base game.

The most non-Spore spin-off was Darkspore, released in 2011. It was classified as an action/RPG with elements from Spore, like the creature creator.

The game’s servers were ultimately shut down in early 2016 making Darkspore unplayable. The Spore servers followed suit in the same year, although it said it was “under maintenance”… indefinitely. The Sporepedia was gone, but unlike Darkspore, you could still play without having the servers/Sporepedia.

Darkspore by EA Games/Maxis

EA Games was using a copyright protection program, or a Digital Rights Management (DRM) called SecuROM. It was a big SNAFU, resulting in a lawsuit and boycotts of EA Games. The program required authenticating the game every 10 days, there was a limit of how many computers you could download the game onto (sometimes the software would count a hardware upgrade on the computer as an entirely new computer), and it was hidden from the EULA (End-User License Agreement). All in all it was a huge cluster-fudge that caused demises of 7 games.

Maxis’ main studio ended up closing in 2015, which many speculated started the closures of servers.


Now I’m sure at this point you are wondering why I would suggest a dead game you can’t really play. Excellent question.

EA Games removed the SNAFU SecuROM in 2017. The reason for everything Spore being shut down is it was being modified for the digital download versions. There is a new Sporepedia. It has been re-released in digital format, which means some of the gameplay has been improved to work on Win10. (Thanks Win10…).

There was a short time when you could register your old game code from the disc with EA Games/Origin. (I was never able to get this to work, not to mention some of the games went missing during the many moves.) Should you have a copy, you can still try this method under your EA account – Customer Portal – Redeem Product Code.

Spore Today:

Spore is available to purchase via Origin (EA Games), Steam, and Galaxy of Games (GOG). All 3 sell them separately with each game costing between $20-30. (Spore, Creepy & Cute, and Galactic Adventures). I strongly suggest a bundle which is available on Steam and GOG, so you can get a discount. It also often goes on sale. I believe we repurchased the digital collection for less than $10 on GOG.

The trial version, Creature Creator, is now available for free.

To use the online features in Spore, you will have to register the product through EA games… I’m working on transferring my old creations from the previous version to the new one (you can do this under Documents/My Spore Creations). My Sporepedia name is HaphazardHolli, should you be interested. Some of my creations had exoskeleton parts, that was once available for download. It is now included in the Galactic Adventures game.

To Summarize:

I recommend this game.

Pros:Cons:
It is a nice introduction to science for kids. It’s not completely accurate, science wise.
Infinite ways to playNot structured, so it can be chaotic for those who need structure.
Uses mouse only control or standard WASD key movementDoes not support a game controller
PC only

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