You may not believe it but Spore Island is the first Facebook game that I’ve actually really played. It was easy to ignore all the vampires, werewolves and mobsters… but cute little Spore monsters? Official little EA Spore monsters… how could I resist?
The premise of the game is easy. In fact it reminds me of my pitch for an Honours Computing project that was never accepted. I wanted to have little squiggles roam around a virtual landscape and adapt to survive. Spore Island does better than little squiggles and the game is all about you making the necessary changes for the creatures to survive.
This is a 2D game. Your spore creatures don’t touch that of the PC version and are far similar to the DS version of the game. However, in between games when you get to evolve your creatures you’re given a pretty cute rendering of what the islands monsters look like and we only drop back to retro graphics during game play.
Although, really, there’s no true game play. You’re allowed a limited number of “observations” per day. You can spend these to watch progress on any island you’ve a creature on. This allows you to watch your critters roam around, trying to find food and not become food themselves. In one observation I noticed that my mini-monsters tended to lay less eggs than everyone else so I knew to boost the Reproduction ability in order to compensate.
Each monster has four sets of three attributes. The metabolism set contains Reaction, Speed and Stamina. You have 12 points to split between those three. You could have a great stamina but then your creature will be slow and sluggish. In the senses set you have Threat-Detect, Food-Detect and Spark-Detect. Sparks are extra points generated by islands where there is a large number of human players. In strength creatures split points between Attack, Defence and Hardness. There’s certainly something to be said for not being at the bottom of the food chain. Finally, in the life the three attributes are Reproduction, Lifespan and Weight. Weights an interesting attribute as you score points depending on how much mass of creatures you have on an island. A heavy creature is worth more than a light one.
After watching an observation you may decide to adjust your creature. To do this costs DNA points. These are also generated over time (though you’re given a starter dose of both Observations and Genes).
It is possible to buy more in the game by filing in leads for free videos, credit cards, etc. Urg. Spit. Cough. I’ll never do this. Facebook has a current problem with a lot of very dodgy in-game deals. They may be trying to clean things up right now and I may trust EA more than some of the start-ups (maybe.. hmm.. maybe not!) but it’s a slippery slope I’m keen to avoid.
I’m finding it more than possible to play the game without spending any money (EA won’t profit off me – but it does keep my interest in the Spore franchise alive). I’m on my own island. Managed to get an invite to another island and, right now, tend to come top beast on the island (although all it takes is for another creature to evolve and I’ll struggle).
The next step for me; in order to get enough points to start unlocking extra abilities, is to get myself on other islands so I start to benefit from other people’s Observations. If people watch an island where I have a monster then (I think) I get points (depending on how well my Spore-beast has done). Herein is the viral key to the game. It’s actually in your interest to invite me to your island. It’s my interest to try and get other Facebook friends to play.