Instead of looking at a new game today, I decided to revisit Creatures Adventures since I certainly didn’t get a good feel for the game the first time around and I didn’t discover the on-disk manual until after I had written the blog post. In order to create a quality MobyGames entry, I would like to gather a little more first-hand experience with the game. Plus, after reading the manual and gaining a mild understanding of what’s going on, the game actually sounds interesting. Further, I think the graphics are nothing short of phenomenal and a sheer joy to watch.
On my first play, I got the distinct impression that the objective of the game was to observe little baby monsters called norns and manually interact with their surroundings using the mouse. There is so much more. The game’s manual claims that the game engine models actual biological processes and that the norns come with their own biochemistry, brains and “Digital DNATM” (which is a trademark that I thought Motorola claimed). In fact, reading through the complexity described in the manual makes it hard to believe that this game is designed with children in mind. But the parents’ control dialog described in the previous post remains substantial evidence of the target audience. The manual must be intended for the parents so that they might be able to explain everything to the young ones.
To review, you begin the game in the nestery where you can hatch an egg by placing it in the cradle. You can accept the default name or enter a different one.
From there, the game becomes an exercise in caring for your your norn by feeding it, clothing it, and keeping it out of obvious danger. There is training and discipline involved. Remember the jet horn and mosquito icons discussed in the last post? It turns out that those are for punishment and reward, respectively. The mosquito is actually a stickler that tickles the norn, which the norn likes. Contrast this with a blast of water to the face via the jet. The norns are supposed to learn the right lessons from this treatment but the manual warns you not to overdo either.
So the norns walk around and explore the world as they see fit, unless you grab their hand using the mouse and drag them in the opposite direction. They partake of the plentiful bounty that abounds from the land. Thankfully, it appears that the norns metabolize everything they take into their bodies. Wait, I may be wrong– the norns are consistently seen squatting, an action which sometimes results in brown spots which can then be picked up. I can’t imagine what I would do with these in the context of the game if I were correct about what they are.
I decided that an interesting test of any simulation game would be to see what happens if you don’t offer any input for an extended period of time; just leave the critters to their own devices in this case. With that in mind, I leave the game running and go off to watch some old Amiga demos from MindCandy Volume 2. Here’s what happens: They get sick! The manual warned that norns can get sick but I didn’t realize that the attention-hungry little monkey creatures would actually fall ill if ignored. Talk about Attention Deficit Disorder!
So I’m trying to to watch the Demo DVD and eat lunch but that turns out to be difficult because I can still see my computer monitor out of the corner of my eye which shows me the above scene. The green-faced norn keeps bending over in a virtual heave. Fine, I’ll go do something about it. Apply the stethoscope and thermometer to the norn standing at the medical carriage to validate that there is something very wrong with her. Then take her hand and drag her into the magic doctor booth. That’s really all it takes. Until they get sick again a few minutes later after I have returned to my lunch.
Notice that the norns are all grown up now. The manual says that you will get to witness the whole norn life cycle and that the repugnant creatures will pair off, mate, and procreate. Then they will die. Not a violent death. There comes a point in the game when a norn is apparently just sleeping for a really long time. When you click on their overhead bubble icon you will be transported to the garden where there will be a new tombstone.
Winter comes for the norns. They lived full lives busy with exploration of the 1/2 kilometer immediately surrounding their birthplace. May they rest in peace. Following this, there are new eggs in the hatchery. It is unknown whether they are eggs from Chloe, matriarch of the previous round.