It's Up to You to Restore Balance to the Land in Spore Hero

In the platforming game Spore Hero, you start out as nothing more than a small, bipedal Sporeling. Its friend, Mejee, attempts to teach it to eat a fruit but your little Sporeling cannot as it lacks a mouth. Eventually, another Striped Bird named Littly comes across a nest which allows creatures to evolve -- a feature which will surely excite series die-hards, thus starting this strange yet entertaining hourney in the world of Spore Hero

Spore Hero

Sandbox Style Gameplay

The giant sandbox of the original is replaced by a planet teeming with tribes of weird and wonderful Spores. Your goal here is not to colonize or rule the universe. Instead, you are charged with seeking shards planted by your arch nemesis, Zarkhator. These rocks are poisoning the tribes by infecting them with pure evil and making them go berserk. You will need to find and destroy these red-colored shards in order to restore balance to the land.

Not all shards in the game are bad though. Also scattered across the planet are blue-colored rocks which may be earned by completing side quests. These special rocks unlock new body parts for your Spore. Not interested in a new look? Well, DNA isn't only good for a monster makeover, they also add new abilities you may find handy throughout your adventure. From double jumps to flight, blue shards allow you to gain access to new areas in the planet. If you find that you're always being bullied by creatures stronger than you, you can opt to add new body parts which let your Spore kick, bite or spit. You may add as many appendages as you want and upgrade your monster at any time.

Spore Hero

Made for the Younger Crowd

In some ways, it's obvious that Spore Hero is geared towards both children and series newcomers. For one thing, there's no need to feel intimidated even if you've never played a single title in the series as Spore Hero's story is kept simple throughout. Side quests are mostly made up of fetch quests which results in an enjoyable, relaxed game pace. The creature creator is intuitive thanks to the game's pointer control and built-in template. The creatures themselves look to be straight out of a whimsical children's story book thanks to their colorful designs and lively personalities.

Wii Problems

On the other hand, the game's quirky motion controls leave much to be desired. Battles often test one's patience as they do not register movement as accurately as other Wii games. Out of sheer frustration, there will be times where you will be swinging the Wii-mote like a crazy person in the hopes of getting a lucky hit in. The controls dampen what would have been a fun game experience as it affects both Spore Hero's story and multiplayer modes. There's also a dance-off mini game which suffers in much the same way as it makes use of the Wiimote and Nunchuck.

Unfortunately, the technical issues do not stop there. Although we find the character models and bright landscapes charming, the game suffers from frame rate issues and slowdowns whenever too many detailed elements are shown on screen. These may not pose much of a problem for you during exploration sequences but trust us, they'll be hard to miss during key fights. Things slow to a crawl, even to the point of your Spore performing attacks a couple of seconds late. This also makes it near impossible to block, let alone perform a counter.

Spore Hero

Careful Purchase

Spore Hero is fun but it suffers from many issues which would likely disappoint long-time series fans. The game does earn some brownie points for its adorable, goofy characters and relaxed pacing. There are also plenty of quests to keep younger players engaged for hours on end. Unfortunately, the controls are frustrating to use especially with all the lags and slow downs. It also lacks a Sporepedia which, to those who are new to the series, is a means to show off your creature collection to other players. Without it, the creature creator is reduced to a fancy upgrade menu rather than an actual design feature.

With the lack of key features and polish, Spore Hero feels too much like a watered down version of its glorious PC self instead of being a proper spin-off title for the Nintendo gaming crowd. Go for this game if you do not have access to Spore for the PC or are looking for a more lighthearted adventure platformer. If you think you can't get by without going social and sharing your creations to pals, then you may want to rent rather than buy this title.