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Publisher: Kutoka Interactive    Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: 10.2    CPU: G3 @ 900 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 600 MB    24x CD-ROM    Graphics: 800x600

Creatures: Village
March 13, 2006 | Marcus Albers

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Back in the early nineties there was a little electronic craze that had every child under the age of 15 (and a number of college students, as well) hooked on digital crack. That craze was the Japanese import known as the Tamagotchi. This keychain-sized wonder was basically a digital pet. The little creature would hatch and come to life in all of its LCD pixel glory. It was then up to you to make sure that the little darling was happy, fed, and cleaned up after. This was no small task. Like any pet, the little digital device could and would call upon your attention anytime, anywhere. This feature caused most primary schools to ban them from the school grounds. It could not be denied that the idea of taking care of virtual pets was a hit.

This idea has continued to manifest itself in numerous games for numerous platforms, some better than others, some more complex than others. One of the most well-known series on home computers is the Creatures series of games. From developer and publisher Kutoka, the series allows you to take care of a small creature, called a Norn. The Norns are hatched from eggs, and grow from there.

Creatures: Village expands on the Creatures world by allowing you and your Norns to explore a large number of areas beyond their dwelling. You start out with two Norn eggs. Place one in the crib in the nursery, and it will eventually hatch. Once hatched, you will get the opportunity to name your Norn. You can either go with the name that the computer provides, or you can come up with your own. Once named, the Norn will jump down and start exploring the world with you.

The player's control of the Norns is for the most part purely passive. You are represented by a gloved hand on the screen. Clicking on the screen will call your Norn over to that position on screen. If you click on the Norn, you can take them by the hand and lead them to different areas. Of course, you can lead a Norn to water, but you can't keep them from playing in it. That's something they have to learn on their own. There is a system of punishment and reward in the game, called Stickle and Jet. Using the Stickle, you can tickle your Norns. This is a form of positive reinforcement that you can use when they do something good. With the Jet, you can spray your Norns with a jet of water to punish them when they've done something undesirable. Of course, just like any pet, it can take a lot of work to get your Norns to behave properly if they don't want to. The Norns are programmed to discover things on their own, and behave independently. That behavior can take a while to turn around.

Your Norns will eventually grow up. Once your Norns reach adulthood, they can reproduce. The female Norn will eventually lay and egg and transfer the egg to the nursery where you began the game. The egg will hatch, and the process will begin again. The Norns will eventually grow old and pass on. Of course, all of these life processes are done without anything graphic or objectionable, although some parents may not be ready to explain these concepts to their young children.


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