A WiiNintendo game review by hattrick.
Game – Spore Hero Arena
Version – DS (Spore Hero is available on Wii)
Obtained – From EA (review copy)
For those not familiar with the Spore universe, you might be a bit confused as to what Spore Hero Arena is all about. Essentially, you create and control an evolving creature, fighting and competing with other creatures in order to become the best. You gain new abilities based on the new body parts you add to your creature, hence the evolution aspect of the game. Specifically for Spore Hero Arena, you must defeat all the other Spore Heroes in order to become the best in the universe. (If you are still confused, check out the video below.)
In a similar fashion to Spore Hero for Wii, you start off with a basic creature that you help evolve. Exclusive for Arena, you travel from planet to planet, defeating the creatures there in order to become the champion. Each time you defeat a planet’s title-holder, you gain a piece of meteor. This meteor has corrupted everyone else it touches, but for some reason, it does not affect you.
Arena basically consists of two types of play: exploration and fighting. In my opinion, both are done very well. In fact, I prefer the fighting in Arena much more than Spore Hero for Wii. There are more actions to perform, including over sixteen bio-power attacks. In addition to the fighting, you will find yourself completing different quests (from snowball fights to races). I feel I do need to mention that, as opposed to Spore Hero, Arena seems to be a bit easier. I did not find myself loosing as many battles.
A key component included in Spore Hero Arena is multiplayer battle. This allows you and a friend to fight in an arena with up to three friends (locally) and a single challenger via Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. Make your own creature or pick from the characters in the game, and then fight to the death. As with the Wii version, this was a good addition to the game, but I believe the best way to play Spore Hero is the single-player adventure. However, I did not get to play with 3 friends locally, due to it being a multi-card multiplayer game (meaning everyone needs their own copy of the game). This was probably the biggest complaint I have about the multiplayer.
Arena has two control types. One way of controlling your creature is to use the touch screen for movement and the buttons for attacks. The other type is the more traditional way – control pad for movement and A, B, X, & Y for attacks. While I am not typically a big fan of touch-screen controls in action games, I found myself switching back to them after some time with the control pad. The main reason was because the control pad only gave me four directions of movement, where the touch screen gave a full 360-degrees. This was crucial in navigating the land and in battle sequences. While this ended up being my preferred style of play, I still found my hand cramping up from pushing the attack buttons, all the while holding the DS and pressing on the touch screen to move. While this may not be a problem for everyone, I found I needed to take a break every once in a while to give my hand a rest.
I feel that, with it being a Spore game, I need to mention the Creature Creator. As with the PC/Mac version, your creature is fully customizable with over 150 parts. You can decide where to place those parts, and change their size and angle. The only thing I saw missing was the ability to customize the spine of your creature. Instead, you have a set number of pre-made body types to choose from. While I think many will complain, this was probably done to keep certain individuals from creating obscene and inappropriate creatures.
The creator utilizes the touch screen, which makes it very easy to use, and most people will be able to create a creature to their liking within a few minutes. It is also fun to play around and see what other types of creatures you can make. This is what Spore is really about – customization. While the DS did have a Spore Creature Creator before, this one surpasses that by leaps and bounds.
Your creature and all the action takes place on the bottom touch-screen, while the top screen is used for your map. Spore Hero Arena goes for the third-person isometric view. It also has a cartoony comic book style of graphics. Overall, I feel that works for this game. The colors are bright and eye-catching at times, but also dark and gloomy when needed. While it probably does not push the DS to its graphical limits, Arena does a good job of creating a rich 3D environment that few others try on the Nintendo handheld.
The soundtrack to the game is very adventure-like. It feels like you are on a trek, and everything flows very well. When I am in the grassy field, a pleasant tune plays, and when I am in battle, the music ramps up to heighten the intensity. As with the visuals, I was very pleased with the music. As for the other sounds, everything seems to fit. The creatures speak in random sounds, and there is a good balance of background noise from the water, birds, and such.
Concluding Overall Impressions
While Spore Hero Arena may have a few minor problems in control style and the annoying multi-card local multiplayer, it does very well in every other aspect. From the point you crash land on the first planet, your quest awaits – a quest that will keep you entertained and engaged until the last battle.
FINAL SCORE: 4 out of 5
To check out my review of Spore Hero (Wii), click here.
For more information on Spore Hero & Spore Hero Arena, visit http://www.sporehero.com.