The 'play god' genre makes a welcome return
This title is a life-simulation game developed by Maxis, the creators of The Sims and Sim City. The game was designed as an "everything" simulator, including the evolution of life from a single cell through to interstellar travel.
Taking place over five separate stages of evolution, the game involves various gameplay mechanics including real time strategy, animal design, basic combat and item finding. Once a player has completed all five stages they can return to any one again to create new lifeforms or try new tactics.
Designed by accomplished developer Will Wright and promoted by an extensive campaign, the game received a large amount of early positive feedback. Early builds demonstrated a much more complex animal creation system which some felt was a misinterpretation of the actual product. A potential issue with the DRM software was also cause for concern.
Whilst containing online community aspects, such as an encyclopedia of created animals, the game does not feature a dedicated multiplayer mode. The game does allow for random creatures from this database to populate planets, if wished, and can be added to be the player.
Online servers for the game maintain the so-called "Sporepedia" containing over 100 million user-created animals. As of early 2018, these servers can still be accessed and uploaded to with no plans to shut down the service.
The game released for both the Mac and PC. No console editions were planned or have been released, although a mobile version exists focusing on a single evolutionary stage. A spin-off for the Nintendo DS was also released with a limited focus.
The game received three separate expansions. "Creepy and Cute" provided extra animal design parts, "Galactic Adventures" was focused on late game improvements and "Bot Parts" was a limited-time advertisement tied into Dr. Pepper which added robotic construction parts.
The Creature Creator was a separate physical release available prior to the full edition. It featured the initial animal construction of the main game, allowing users to plan and design creatures without any of the five evolutionary stages. A free demo was also made available which contained around 25% of the full design features.
Despite being over a decade old, the game still has an active community of both players and modders. Many forums are available which contain a variety of mods from simple content additions to full revamps. Some of the most popular include Dark Injection and Expanded Cell Editor.
The game received regular, if infrequent, updates. These were generally related to online services when servers were moved or changed. Some small patches may be released in a digital format at a future point but larger gameplay based updates have ended.