Spore: Origins doesn’t have a future in nation-building or galactic conquest. In fact, even lungs and legs are out of this tiny action game’s league. The excitement of building a creature from scratch is significantly diminished when you realize that beyond zipping around the water and gobbling up snacks, these microorganisms have nowhere else to go.
Over the course of 18 levels — ranging from murky depths to shallow shores — your critter’s only got one goal: to feed! After positioning your creature near food sources, you simply hold down the OK button to eat, which fills a DNA meter at the top of the screen. On most levels, you can fill the bar and complete the stage in about 60 seconds while avoiding simple-minded predators. After every three levels, you can add an extra fin or spiky protrusion for an evolutionary edge, but these are little more than simple speed or defense boosts.
After completing the short main game, you’ll unlock a twitchy survival mode that plays a bit like Pac-Man, only without the maze. While the complexity ramps up quickly as enemies swarm the screen, this mode grows old quickly and feels like little more than a minor bonus. The online Arena Mode also lacks complexity, since you can’t actually control your creature — instead, two A.I.-controlled “opponents” do battle, one of them using your creation.
The extra modes could’ve been interesting, but this game contains barely a fraction of the PC version’s promise, and the short single-player mode is a big disappointment. Spore: Origins had potential, but without any room to grow, it simply can’t survive the competition.
Played on an LG VX 8300