creatures.gif - 9.8 K
Preview by Al Giovetti
Genre: strategy
Release: June 1997 (September 1996)
Developer: Millennium Interactive (UK),
Publisher: Inscape (Mindscape)
Phone: 800-693-3253
Requirements: Pentium PC, 2X CD-ROM, 16 bit sound card, 65,000 colors @640x480 SVGA, 8MB RAM & 30MB of hard drive space, Coming soon for Macintosh. 3.gif - 9.0 K

History: Millenium interactive has been responsible for games like James Pond, DefCon5 and Deadline. For years cyber-life or artificial life (a-life) has been studied by colleges and universities, this is the first true, sophisticated a-life program for desktop computers.

There has been a lot of talk about artificial intelligence products, but Creatures is the first to be sold on the commercial software market for the home computer.

Plot: You take the role of designing little creatures, called Norns, with a computer program described by Millennium as digital DNA, which is called CyberLife technology. You become responsible to teach and guide the little two-dimensional (2D) animated creatures in their 2D environment. You can even stroke (tickle) and slap them to get them to learn and obey.

Game play: The computer-based DNA can determine over 200 characteristics. Once the DNA is set, the simulated life, called sims, hatch, grow, react to stimuli, eat, talk, mate, breed new creatures, age, and die. In breeding natural selection is active and can result in more desirable traits replacing the ones on the original DNA. The game play is limited to keeping the sims alive by preventing virus infection, food poisoning, and help them make correct choices.

Creatures display feelings and basic needs: hunger, pain, frustration, and desire. The creature inhabitants are called Norns. Each game comes with six eggs complete with genetically distinct "reproductive material." The six eggs are divided into male and female, which you can breed to produce your own race of Norns.

The first goal, with a newborn Norn, is to teach them to talk and understand your commands in the form of verbs and nouns. Once they can talk, you can find out what they are thinking. Once they can understand your language they can take commands. The game contains an automated language teacher to help save you the boredom and repetition of this micromanagement duty.

Norns can be left to their own devices or can be taught with the laborous process of rewards and punishment. Norns exhibit emotions and human character traits like curiosity. Later in the game herbs and stimulants can be used to control the norms even further by modifying energy level, hunger, sex drive, and other motivating forces of living things.

Once your brood breeds and grows up, the older Norns can teach the younger ones. Since the lifecycle of a Norn is 10 to 15 hours, these little beings will need some nurturing.

Norns live in the land called Albia. Albia can be as peaceful or frustrating as you make it. The Norns have foes called Grendels. The rival Grendels can attack Norns, steal their food, crossbreed, and other forms of interaction.

Graphics: Simple 2D drawings of animation and background which may be too primitive for many sophisticated tastes now used to light-sourced, gouraud-shaded, texture-mapped, three-dimensional, rendered 3D Studio and Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI) graphics. 4.gif - 7.4 K

Musical score:

Human voice actors:

Sound effects

Multi-player: The game has varios internet features. Norns, Grendels, and saved games can be posted on the web and downloaded by others to further experiment and add to each world. Millenium also posts a new six pack of eggs on their website every week for breeding and hatching.


Vince Broady,
Frederick Paul, PC Games, volume 3, number 9, September, 1996, pg. 18.
Next Generation, May, 1997, pg. 91.