Because the events of recent days have me at risk of feeling like an actual, productive adult member of society, I decided that today I would counteract that by playing video games all day. And what did I play, you may ask? I played Spore!
Spore, for those of you who don’t know, is a game designed by Will Wright, the infernal mind behind timesinks like SimCity. But whereas SimCity puts you in charge of a single town, Spore puts you in charge of evolution itself.
The game starts at the cellular level. You swim around in the primordial ooze, eating bits of plant or meat (depending on whether you choose to start as a carnivore or herbivore). From there you creature evolves legs and moves on to land, where you progress through various stages of civilization, like tribes and city-states, until you take to the stars and begin exploring the galaxy.
Oh yeah, and pretty much all the content (creatures, vehicles, music, etc.) is customizable by you.
One of the big attractions is that you get to not only decide how your creatures will act, but what they look like. Using a selection of parts, you cant create pretty much anything from scratch in the in-game editors. It’s like virtual LEGO for biology. As you progress, you can also create (and share!) your own land, sea, and even space vehicles.
Each stage of the game plays slightly differently, too, like a series of minigames based on larger experiences. They can sometimes feel short, but they’re fun nonetheless. The Cell stage, for instance, plays a lot like Pac-Man or Snake, where you eat the pellets to grow bigger. Creature stage sees you piloting a member of your species around the land, making friends or driving rival creatures to extinction. Tribal stage dips into Real-Time Strategy stage, using a group of your now-sentient creatures to either charm or annihilate other intelligent tribes. Civilization, believe it or not, plays a lot like Civilization, with a dash of SimCity thrown in. Your creatures now mine the world for Spice, and as we all know, he who controls the spice controls the universe. Space stage has you roaming the galaxy, building your interstellar empire and terraforming and colonizing worlds. You can even make contact with other spacefaring races from your other save games!
I feel it’s important to mention that when this game first came out, there was a lot of controversy surrounding its DRM scheme. Originally, the DRM system (SecuROM) prevented you from installing the game more than three times, even on your own computer. This was a deal-breaker for me at the time, even though I was really excited about the game before it came out. Luckily, that seems to have been largely patched out since launch.
If any of this sounds intriguing to you (aside from the insulting DRM stuff), I can highly recommend Spore. It may not be the deepest of gaming experiences, but there’s something to being able to see your own creation march all the way from the sea to the stars.