Electronic Arts has brought its very popular Spore franchise to Facebook, with the launch of a new game called Spore Islands. The game, while thematically similar to the well known PC game that was released last year, has gameplay that’s entirely different. Rather than roaming around a 3D world, Spore for Facebook is more of a stategy game: you tweak your creature and then watch how it fares against the other beasts inhabiting your island.
I took the game for a spin last night and found it to be pretty fun, though there’s a bit of a learning curve. The game is effectively broken down into two main sections: the creature builder, where you can tweak both the appearance and the attributes of your character (things like speed, reproductive rate, and over a dozen others). Once you’ve fine tuned your creature to your satisfaction, you can go into ‘observation’ mode, where you watch miniature versions of the island’s animals fight over food, eat each other, and reproduce (by way of eggs hatching). The graphics in the simulation portion are pretty basic — everything is presented in a 2D, top-down view, but they’re charming and get the job done.
The game’s strategy lies in crafting the ideal creature that’s best suited to both your island’s enviroment (which can be impacted by the type of food available) and the other creatures living on the island with you (if you’re slow and another create is quicker to get to the food available, you’ll probably die of starvation). This can be harder than it sounds, because when you’re playing against your friends the variables will be constantly changing, as the game allows you to further tweak your creature’s attributes between rounds using DNA points, the game’s virtual currency.
As with most Facebook games, Spore includes a number of viral mechanisms that invite you to publish your accomplishments to your news feed and to invite friends to come play with you (the biggest draw will be the buttons to invite friends to join you on your island). To monetize, the game allows users to purchase extra DNA points for further customizing their creatures.