How did this cute game tee everybody off?
Spore, the newest game from the guy who created The Sims lets you build a creature from scratch and help it grow from grunting animal to a civilized space farer. So how has this cute and bloodless game caused as much controversy as Grand Theft Auto? Spore's been call anti-religious, over-protected and just plain rude.
We outline the biggest controversies around the game and then, in the game's defense, offer 10 solid reasons why Spore is the one game you'll want to try this year.
Spore's Declared Anti-Christian
An anonymous religious blogger created a site called AntiSpore and claimed that "Electronic Arts ... biggest attack on Christian values to date will not be tolerated." Even though the site turned out to be a hoax, Spore's creator, Will Wright says that players with either evolution or creationist views would find that Spore could accommodate both since the game's starts with a single creature and doesn't go into details on how that creature got there. Wright also says that a group of militant atheists were even more vocal in the fact that evolution wasn't stressed enough in the final game.
When Three Installs Ain't Enough
Early adopters of Spore began complaining after discovering that they could only install the game three times. While most players would only install the game once, a bunch of gamers screamed that the Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme used to prevent piracy should be scrapped and players should be allowed to install it as many times as they wanted. Several creative gamers even created creatures that formed the phrase "EA Sux" in protest. After someone cracked another of the game's security features, the game turned into BitTorrent's most downloaded (and pirated) game of all time. Eventually, EA relented and said that it would soon allow up to five installations of the game.
The Tools of Creation Stir Up Controversy
Giving any creative tool to gamers who still laugh at the sight of private parts is like giving a blowtorch to a newborn baby. Spore's Creature Creator became that blowtorch as players made creatures that looked a lot like "private parts." Conservative media, still gleefully reeling after the Janet Jackson affair, quickly jumped on the bandwagon to decry the content. Thankfully, Spore players can easily opt to not download such creatures to protect younger players.
The Sims Guy Created Spore
Will Wright, best known as the creative genius behind The Sims and SimCity, made Spore. Does that mean that Spore is like The Sims or SimCity? No. But Wright has a way of making seemingly mundane tasks into highly addictive (and best selling) experiences. Creating a single celled creature and evolving it into a traveling space troop seems like a tough sell. Then again who would have thought that a game about controlling a Sim as it eats, sleeps and poops would become the biggest selling game of all time? See, genius.
Creations that Grandma Will Love
Before Spore arrived, EA released Spore Creature Creator. The simple tool allowed users to build their own creature with a limited number of parts (legs, arms, snouts and the like). Its fun for everyone and so easy, even your grandma will start sending you digital postcards to show off her new and slightly more loved offspring.
Battles Without the Bloody Bits
Offering up five distinct games in one, Spore's combat system is a bloodless affair as your creature makes more creatures, which beat up or eat up others and eventually evolves into the next game. Sure, a pacifist family member can go vegetarian and make alliances with other tribes and evolve that way, but where's the fun in that? Still, Spore's combat is so light and bloodless, that an episode of Tom & Jerry might be considered ultraviolence in comparison.
Rewards Upon Rewards
Beating a level is always satisfying in Spore, but the greatest reward is that a creature's creator is able to watch as its offspring grow up. If that isn't your thing, hundreds of included achievement rewards offer badges for simply beating a level to the seemingly impossible task of playing one game from beginning to end in a single session. Sure, it's still a game but watching your creatures go from teasers to freezers just makes you love them that much more.
Space: Spore's Finale Rocks
No level is more satisfying than the Space stage. In it, your creature's civilization heads to the stars, using SETI to detect radio signs of intelligent life. On planets with intelligent life, you can buy items at lower prices and selling them for higher prices on other worlds. On worlds without life, you can add atmosphere and colonies to branch out your civilization's reach as you abduct creatures and plants to place on other worlds you might own. Of course, other creatures try to shoot you down but the thrill of making jumps around the galaxy never gets old.
Welcome to Planet Facebook
One of the most alluring parts of Spore is that planets are populated with creatures from other players through the Spore network. That means that your favorite creature might exist elsewhere in the Spore universe. Checking out a creature's stats is done by accessing the in-game Sporepedia where you can see a picture of that creature, who created it and what skills it has. Of course, you can use the Sporepedia to look back into each evolution of your creature. "Awww, remember when our Tigren got horns?"
Basic Mousing Around
You'll need a keyboard to name and describe your creature but the rest of the game can be played entirely from a mouse. That means that just about anyone can play. Click on your creature, click on an edible plant to eat, click on a creature you want to battle or clicking on a planet you want to purchase is all done with your mouse (or other pointing device). With all that simplicity, it does make us wonder why Spore didn't make it to Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360...
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