Game Design

Spore: Cute & Creepy Pack

From a game design point of view, I understand why these parts packs are putting out, and realistically it is a good idea. These part packs first seen in Sims 2 as Stuff Packs are a merger between an expansion and pay for a part model that is becoming increasingly more popular. I actually quite liked the idea of it over in Sims 2. Quite often I liked the stuff packs more often than the expansions. What isn’t to like? I often just wanted the extra stuff, and was regularly ho-hum about the new features. I was really excited to see how the idea would translate to a game in which you could tell was built for the ground up for it. What could go wrong?

First I would like to say how great some of the parts actually are. There new mouths in particular I am very fond of. They added parts for rat mouths, walrus mouths and others that really help round out what is available and fill in some of the missing parts from the original game. The parts included are really good. The problem is really that there isn’t much you are getting for the price.

With the purchase you get about 12 mouths, 12 eyes, 12 hands and feet, and 12 decorative parts. The total is about 60 parts. They claim over 100 but they get to this total by including 48 painting styles in the pack as well. The painting styles are all well and good actually, as I thought the game kind of lacked in this area and this helps fill in the blanks. However, these are still minor. Similar to how Sims 2 tended to fill in the gaps with new clothing styles because they were cheap and quick to make for the dev team.

The other thing that the pack really added was a bunch of new animations. These animations are really fun, but I really need to hold my judgement until I actually see if they are used within the game itself. I have a feeling they aren’t really in the game all that much though as I noted many of the former animations weren’t really used in the game either. While I enjoyed messing around with the animations in the creature creator the fun that was had there faded quickly when the actual game was released.

If these new animations are only available in the creature creator, it was a complete waste of resources. I would have much rather have had a third type of part instead of these animations. After all the Sims 2 stuff packs usually had 3 themes, why only 2 in spore? I think the answer is largely because of better graphics. Still I can’t help be a little disheartened by the effort of creating actual parts. Since the parts are so much less to this game individually than say the bowling lanes were in Sims 2, why couldn’t we have been given more parts in Spore?

I suppose in the end I should be grateful though. This is a hybrid of two different design philosophies. One being an expansion pack model, and one being a pay-per-part model. The game industry I think is quickly moving away from the expansion model, I think partially because it is more console friendly and partially because they make more money when people pay for the parts individually than with expansions. If EA charged just $0.49 for each part, they would still be making $30 if you only bought the parts and not the painting objects or animations. Instead we get it all for $20. So this way is still better than what is to come. I do think though that they could have had a much better first outting to really put Spore on the map as being a long term game that we can expect much fun to be had in the future.

While this review of Spore: Cute and Creepy Parts Pack may seem rather harsh on the game, it really is harsh because it could have been so much more and probably should have been. That being said, what is here is still top notch and worth the buy. The design of the parts are great, and definitely worth having in your Spore collection. I would give this mini-expansion a B-. Not great, but still worth the value price.