Spore Creatures for the DS isn't the far-reaching trek through evolution you may have expected--but don't take that as a reason to totally dismiss this charming title. It's still a cute adventure across multiple planets, and it features a pared-down version of the creature creation tool that helped make the PC release such a success. It has some annoying quirks, and it won't inspire an emotional connection between you and your digital doppelganger, but Spore Creatures is still a pleasant diversion and an appealing, if ordinary, companion to its bigger brother.
The creature creator lets you create a a freaky, wafer-thin beast.
Your galactic journey is set in motion when your companion creature, Little Oogie, is abducted by an evil alien for reasons unknown. In response, you accumulate evolutionary improvements and apply them to yourself with a singular goal: rescue the little bugger. You'll visit various planets and continents, acquiring new spaceship parts--in addition to limbs for your own beastly body. You'll alternately befriend and alienate nests of other creatures as you explore the various planetside environs; and while the voyage is linear, it's easygoing and, at 10 hours, reasonably lengthy.
The creature creator you use to develop your avatar is limited, but it still lets you snap together a number of interesting limbs and other bits. Notably, your creature is a two-dimensional collection of parts and pieces rather than a full 3D model, though within these bounds, you can still resize and rotate the various appendages. This can result in a gangly mess of odd-looking eyes and tails tottering across the landscape, but there's still something remarkably charming about such paper-thin oddities. Moving pieces on and off of your beast can get a little annoying, since it's far too easy to grab the wrong piece if your creature is a busy mess of limbs. But all in all, the 2D approach works, and the creation tool offers the right combination of form and function.
Each body part confers particular attributes and bonuses, such as improved attack ratings and special abilities called bio-powers that you can use in combat. You need to be far more conscious of these factors compared to Spore PC because your mission objectives are often incredibly specific, forcing you to use a particular appendage to accomplish your goals. For example, you'll need to cross different types of terrain at certain points, such as desert, ice, or lava; And to do so, you need to attach very specific body parts. Or, you may need to prove your good intentions to another race of creatures by equipping one of their arms. Mission-required adjustments like this devalue the fun of the creation process, since it shoves aside player inventiveness in favor of arbitrary gameplay mechanics.