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Creatures 3
Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 best

By Dwayne J. Ferguson

The good: A harmless, bloodless distraction that lures you into caring for virtual semisentient creatures and loathing those who hurt them. 
The bad: Animation could have used more frames; doesn't run smoothly on recommended system. 
The bottom line: Clever, addictive, and fun, Creatures 3 will have even action and strategy fans playing hour after hour. 
Multiplayer: N/A  
Single player: Very good  
ESRB rating: E (Everyone) 

Artificial life makes another appearance on the PC with the (dare I say) cute virtual inhabitants of Mindscape's Creatures 3. Pokémon it's not, but if you have a hankering to raise, feed, teach, protect, and bury digital critters, this game's for you. Creatures 3 is nonviolent and bloodless fun for kids, but has the gameplay to pull adults away from fragging and wee-hour commanding and conquering.

A thousand years ago, a space-faring people named the Shee bioengineered a race of creatures called Norns to raise and study. Norns, intelligent and inquisitive by nature, love to explore the massive Shee ship's various biospheres, or terrariums, playing with the toys and alien machinery they encounter. For reasons unknown, the Shee have abandoned the ship, leaving the poor Norns to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, hostile life forms are also aboard the ship, and Norms aren't exactly bred for combat. And in their brief, seven-hour-long life spans, the Norns need all the help they can get, which is where you, the player, come in.

Screen Shots
Click the captions for more game shots!

-Biosphere life
-View of the stars
-Down by the sea
-The question hand
-Creature talk

You begin your task by either selecting a pretaught male and female Starter Family, or hatching your own Norns from eggs. You must then teach the baby Norns about their surroundings by "speaking" to them (clicking objects until a word balloon pops up) or dropping them off in the Learning Room. If you set the Learning Machine on Auto Teacher, you can go about your business while the Norn kids eat cheese and absorb the various words the machine spews. They'll leave the room when they've had enough, and continue exploring the ship. While wandering, the babies learn to speak the language of any nearby adults, good or evil, so keep your eyes open for bad influences.

Norns are very intelligent. The more you participate in their development, however, the faster you speed up their brain cell action. Point to food or a machine and describe what it is, and all Norns in earshot will hear and learn. Sometimes you have to repeat explanations until they understand.

Norns reach breeding age at about one hour of life. You can either let them mate on their own, or play Marvin Gaye and induce the little creatures to get it on. In no time, you'll have a large community of chatty Norns, telling you their needs and playing with everything they can get their hands on.

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