The Week In iPhone Apps: Spore Origins Hands-On Edition

I've been running around at CEDIA this week, so for today's installment, on top of a rundown of our app news from the week, we had a chance to give Spore Origins for the iPhone a spin before it drops (hopefully) this Sunday.

As we saw at E3 and WWDC, the iPhone version of Spore is Spore Origins, which is limited to the "primordial ooze" stage you see here, with a limited version of the Creature Creator thrown in for tweaking your bug cosmetically. On the plus side, it's simple and a quick diversion, and it's fun combo-ing your way through 35 increasingly difficult levels of munching little floaties. You can also import photos from your iPhone camera to texture-map on your creatures (Benny's Michigan Fab 5 tee).

But on the downside, the game suffers from the same control awkwardness that all of the accelerometer-only games do—as you can see in our video, the camera had a tough time keeping focus because you're always dramatically moving the phone to try to reign in your creature. A training stage featured a level-like bubble for each axis that showed you when you were at the zero-point, which was incredibly helpful—too bad it disappeared after training.

And most disappointingly, Spore for iPhone does not connect with the greater Spore hive in any way, meaning you won't see any procedurally generated creatures made by real other players of the game via Spore's central server. Kind of a weird choice for such a connected phone, and most confusingly, EA says the simpler Java based game for most other mobile phones does in fact have connectivity to the greater spore world.

There's still some vagueness with release date (EA's site still only says "sometime in September") but all other Spore platforms launch in the US this Sunday. Look for it then or soon thereafter in the App Store for a price that'll probably be in the US$10 and below range.

This week's app coverage on Giz:

  • Remember what it was like to buy a CD? Apple's plans to include lyrics and additional album art via an app download for certain albums will help you remember.
  • Continuing to carry the torch for political apps is Election '08 - a US$1 app that collects poll data, electoral vote projections, and tons of other election data.
  • And at CEDIA, all of the home automation systems are racing each other to release remote control applications, turning your iPhone into a capable touchscreen control surface for opening the blinds from across the street or jacking up the AC if your cat gets hot.

For even more apps: see what you missed last week and check our original iPhone App Review Marathon. Have a good weekend everybody.

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