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Birth of a Gamer: Creatures 3
By Heather "elki" Haselkorn
Vol. 2, Issue 14
February 29, 2000

 

How cute is that?† But wait a second.† Cute?† Video games?† Thatís sort of an oxymoron, isnít it?† The bright colors, the cute little animals.† It sounds like a game for children.† But itís really not.† Itís actually a strategy game:† How can you keep your little community growing in spite of the dangers all around it?† I found myself having to make major decisions.† Do I deal with the Ettin whoís dismantling my defenses, or do I rescue a baby Norn who wandered into the Grendel habitat?† Should I hatch another pair of Norns or wait for the adults to start breeding?† Do I have time to wander around and look at the other environments?†

I also realized I had to watch what I say to my Norns.† In an early, failed attempt, one Norn complained that he was hungry.† I typed the simple command:† ďeat.Ē† Unfortunately he took that a little too seriously and ate his sister who was standing innocently nearby.† After that I made sure I was more specific.† And in trying to get Beatrice and Benedick to breed, I typed, ďBenedick play with Beatrice.Ē† Either that was too complex of a command or he just chose to ignore me.† And when I asked Benedick to teach one of the babies to talk, he merely took the little one to the training room.† I guess it was a good try, though.

Creatures 3 isnít all cute and cuddly.† The game can be unnecessarily complex at times.† To get all of your machinery working, you have to get powerups.† This requires dragging a Norn around to find the powerups and activate them.† To make full use of my defenses, I had to replicate them in a Creator.† My first problem was finding the Creator machine.† My second problem was that I couldnít find enough powerups to get it working to its fullest, so I wasnít able to replicate my defense equipment.† So there I am, helplessly pulling my hair out while Grendels are beating the crap out of my baby Norns and I canít get the darned Creator to work.† The Norns themselves arenít always cooperative.† Sometimes theyíd fall asleep while I was teaching them to talk, or refuse to go through a door when I was leading them around.† There are sad points in the game, too.† I took it really hard when my first baby Norn died.† And then there was the death of Beatrice.†

Itís absolutely amazing how this silly game got me so involved that I actually mourned the loss of an imaginary animal.† Thatís a testament to how well the game is designed, though.† The Norns act seemingly on their own.† They walk around, eat, sleep, talk to each other, breed, et cetera.† They interact with themselves and their environment, independent of their ďmommyĒ or ďdaddy.Ē† In turn, you teach them right and wrong.† You keep them safe and happy.† Itís so close to real that itís almost scary.† Itís not a drippy little kid game; it requires more thought than most children handle until they reach a certain age.† And itís very addictive.† I thought I was impervious and that Iíd never find a game that I really like.† But now I think Iíve found one I like a little too much.

 

 

-Heather "elki" Haselkorn actually enjoys this.

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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Dan Zalkus. Birth of a Gamer is © 2000 Heather Haselkorn. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you cartoonish villian, you.