Spore Creatures Hands-On Preview and Video

When we last left our paramecium protagonists, they were just struggling out of the ocean and starting to breathe air as their little finned limbs brought them ashore. That was the end of Spore Origins, and the evolutionary series takes another step forward on the iPhone with the upcoming release of Spore Creatures.

In this sequel, you take your critters to land in order to grow. You’ll still tilt to control your Spore, and be able to customize antennae or claws all over your polka-dotted backside, if that’s what you want. What’s new is a deeper, more interesting visual style with parallax scrolling trees and puddles of water (creating an illusion of depth), and a variety of puzzles that go quite a bit further than the last game.

Last time around, it was pretty much all about eating your way through the world while avoiding bigger predators. This time, you’ll have to drag rocks to cross chasms, defeat bosses by feeding them poison mushrooms, and ride hot air vents to gain some verticality.

Spore Creatures also introduces a new gameplay mechanic: the social ability. In addition to your earlier skills like offense and defense, you can now also “chat” with friendly herd animals, gaining simple quests like bringing them gems so they’ll like you. Or, alternately, with the tap of a button, you can turn vicious and slaughter them instead.

Each of the game’s four zones will contain an epic creature at the end of five stages. Defeating this creature will give you extra evolutionary abilities. You’ll also learn how to open up new pathways by “charming” vines and setting fires, in addition to unlocking new limbs and other physical features.

With at least four hours of gameplay, along with multiple save slots so that you can try out different combinations of creature parts, Spore Creatures seems to us like a well-intentioned follow-up. If you enjoyed the first Spore game for iPhone, this one doesn’t seem to be straying too far from what people liked, but adds a lot more puzzle-solving and graphical polish. Look for Spore Creatures in the App Store soon.