Recently I started re-discovering games that I always wanted to play, but never got around to it. Spore is one of them, and I am tracking my first experiences with the game for fun – read Part I here and Part II here.
So here we are, three species ready to found a civilization! Yet soon it became obvious that the Tribal Stage was the less creative part of the game. After a cute little homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, your tribe discovers Fire.
I aim to succeed with a peaceful race of gatherers, my dinosaur-like Prine. I finalised their look, only to realise one cutscene later that there was no space on their bodies to conveniently place clothes.This somehow enables them to construct huts, too! Yeah! Once again, evolution is, ahem, ever so slightly simplified – but heck, it’s a game, and it’s fun, so I will shut up about that now. In the Tribal Stage, Spore tries to turn into a real-time strategy game, and fails. You think it’s a strategy game, because you develop your tribe further, attack or befriend other villages, and build little huts. But the choices here are indeed so limited and so samey, that really there is no strategy involved whatsoever. But let’s start from the top.
With the tribal outfit the same unfortunate rule applies as in the Creature Stage. The more stuff I plaster onto my little dudes, the better for them. I felt a little sorry for them, really, and I chickened out of giving them more than one hat or backpack to increase their bonuses. The boyfriend, however, had no such concerns. He turned his Carax into the ultimate killing machines and settled down with some mean-looking thing I lovingly dubbed “sharkmice”. He then proceeded to stick as many pieces of clothing on them as he could, especially hats. He even started hiding one hat under another.
Once more, I admire the little details of Spore: My gatherers collect fruit and – I think – algae and place them at the village altar; the Carax hunt animals and collect their meat on little silver tablets! Later on I finally discover what the point of taming pets is: they lay eggs you can collect as food and even protect the village from intruders! Small detail, but discovering it was fun. Once I am allied to another tribe, they bring me peace offerings in the shape of big fruit baskets, how adorable is that? And when you point your head shaman to the fire, he starts a party, complete with Mexican-ish music. This aspect of the game is the most fun in the Tribal Stage: just watching your little family grow, hunt, chat and dance.
By the way, the tribes have a few differences depending on their “alignment”. The shamans have special talents, either the more helpful and friendly ones, or the more aggressive ones, like raining down fire. My insects, being kind of on middle ground, could make it rain fishes!
Sadly, there is only so much time you can doss around with these functions, as other tribes keep attacking you. I really wanted my Prine to be these peaced out hippies, but they hardly left me a choice. When another tribe is out to get you, you better start handing out spears!
This brings me to the slightly annoying part of this Stage. If you’re the peaceful type, you’ll start with a building to provide your creatures with musical instruments. You – literally – found a band, walk over to the next tribe with the shaman as your conductor and try to impress them with your 1337 maracca skillz. I’m not sure, by the way, whether to find this absolutely hilarious or teeth-grindingly annoying: Hilarious it sure is the first three times, but if you keep getting the instrument triggers wrong all the time, like I did, it becomes annoying. Impressing another tribe certainly is the most complicated way of going through the Tribal Stage.
Fighting, on the other hand, is way easier. To begin with, if your entire tribe is equipped with weapons, and you keep breeding new creatures as soon as you can, you can eliminate another village pretty much immediately. The Carax, for example, had become excellent warriors. They had been bred with a good set of aggressive skills, and as it turned out, that mattered quite a bit. For example, I had no idea during my playthrough that your attack functions still mattered – like spitting poison etc.! The Prine had a much harder time in battle, despite extra power clothing.
Additionally, playing The Kelly Family means switching back and forth all the time. After all, some need to defend the village while the others go on tour! There isn’t much space in the village, but either way, there’s juuust enough to place all three instruments, the strongest weapon, healing sticks and one building for collecting food (fishing rods or gathering baskets). This means that even playing both styles is easily possible – it demands no strategic choices, really. The only thing that balances this a little is the fact that gathering fruit and algae/fish is a little easier than hunting for food. But this is only a marginal recompense, since you can stockpile more than enough food very quickly at the beginning of the Stage.
One more cool thing happened, though. On the Carax planet, we suddenly got the “achievement” of seeing my own creatures! Sure enough: a neighbouring herd of Prine was grazing next to the village. Yes, of course they were immediately turned into Prine-steak for the Carax! T_T But to our surprise, the closest developed village was also a Prine tribe – and, as it turned out, all of them were! At first I thought that was pretty neat, and it kind of awarded us as for playing in the same universe.
Then, of course, almost every Prine village was brutally looted and burned to the ground. At least on my planet, as well as on the planet with the insects (I keep forgetting their name…), both other races, respectively, showed up as well. Which means I got my revenge by intimidating those damn sharkmice with the power of horrible music!
Needless to say, the Carax planet still reached the end of the Tribal Stage much faster than the Prine, who struggled with composing just the right arrangements for flute and didgeridoos. I mean, jeesh people, put your backs into it! I gotta have more cowbell! *sigh*
Check out the pouches on the Prines’ backs. Rob Liefeld would be so proud.
Summary? The Tribal Stage is less fun than the Creature Stage, but still quite adorable to watch. It’s over quickly, since all actions throughout are streamlined, and you only have to pick an efficient method to waltz through on to the Civilization Stage. See you there!