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Spore Origins

For: N-Gage

Falling from the evolutionary ladder

Product: Spore Origins (N-Gage) | Developer: In-house | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Format: N-Gage | Genre: Action, Casual, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Spore Origins (N-Gage) N-Gage, thumbnail 1
It’s said that if you believe in God, you must also believe in the Devil. So I wonder if it also follows that if you believe in the theory of evolution, you must also believe in the possibility of devolution?

A quick glance around modern society does indeed suggest that nature can also move backwards as well as forwards. But all social commentary aside, the fact that Spore Origins has finally appeared on the N-Gage platform further bolsters the idea that evolution is not a one-way street.

The mobile, iPod and iPhone versions of the revolutionary EA game went down very well, though I’m now left wondering if the quality of their rung on the game’s evolutionary ladder wasn’t entirely dependent on timing.

After all, amoeba would be pretty impressive if there were no other life forms on the planet that could boast ownership of their own cells. Now we’ve seen the previous games develop into the desktop title and expand to encompass entire galaxies, going back to the simple antics of protozoa feels like a real step backwards.

The game casts you as a micro-organism at the bottom of the genetic chain. The primordial soup into which you’re born is teeming with basic life that wants to find a way to grow beyond its bounds. Being as nature is such a harsh mistress, the only way to do that is to eat and absorb new DNA, so your primary task is to swim around gobbling up smaller life forms than yourself.

Of course, being at the bottom of the food chain means there are plenty of bigger fish looking to add to their own DNA, so you need to be pretty quick on your flippers to avoid becoming part of another creature’s double helix.

Once you’d scoffed down enough genetic material (ahem) you’re taken to the creature creation system where you can customise your species. This can involve a monumentally massive number of possible combinations (enough that EA is confident no two Spores are likely to turn out the same) as you design defences against attack, new ways to improve your visual capacity and weapons to help you dine on fresh DNA.

Graphically there are improvements over the mobile version, though there’s only so much can really be done with a screen full of very basic, almost cartoony characters. Neither can the gameplay be expanded upon a great deal, and pretty much comes down to running after some things, and away from others.

Your Spores can still be taken online, which is made easy through the Arena, though even the iPod version can boast that, so it’s not a particularly extensive use of the N-Gage’s inherent connectivity. Battles online are non-interactive, but it’s a decent enough addition to the gameplay.

Perhaps if this game wasn’t so far disconnected from the Spore craze that struck last year it wouldn’t be quite such old news and seem, well, rather superfluous. It meets all the expectations of a version of Spore Origins, sure, but that’s neither a particularly remarkable achievement or an especially relevant one now.

If, by some chance, you’ve yet to venture into the Spore universe, there’s no reason you shouldn’t choose the N-Gage version if that’s your platform of choice. But for anyone who’s already trodden the murky pools of genetic life, this game is something of a step down the evolutionary ladder.
Spore Origins
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 8 June 2009
As good as any version of Spore Origins, but no better, and inevitably suffers from swimming so late to the show
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