The Spore franchise is, at its broadest, an "evolutionary simulator" in which you guide the development of a species from its humble beginnings as a single-celled organism in a tidepool to its ultimate destiny as a spacefaring empire capable of conquering (or destroying) other planets.The idea was first conceived by Will Wright not long after The Sims was finished; he had made a game about people, so he wanted to make a game about "everything else" next — and the game's development schedule took eight years to finish.Almost all content seen in Spore was developed by its userbase, thanks to the game's ability to automatically upload creations (from cells and creatures to vehicles and spacecraft) to the main Spore website ("Sporepedia"), and subsequently download those creations to other games. For example, while about 1,700 entities are bundled with the core game disc, Sporepedia hosts over 180 million . Sturgeon's Law very much applies, but that still leaves over 18 million creations that aren't bad.The game begins by naming your homeworld, picking a difficulty, and deciding whether your cell will be herbivorous or carnivorous (though this can change through gameplay). After that, the game proceeds in five distinct Evolutionary Levels:
The Cell stage is the simplest of the five; you swim around the tidepool in two dimensions eating fragments of vegetation or meat depending on your cell's diet, avoiding larger cells, and collecting new parts for your cell.
In the Creature stage, you collect new parts from skeletons, eat food, and either kill or befriend other creatures, using abilities that are defined by which body parts you use.
In the Tribal stage, you now control an entire tribe of your creature, rather than just one. You must eradicate or ally with the other tribes that spring up, by use of weapons or music respectively.
In the Civilization stage, economic, military, and religious nations take over others by respectively buying them out, storming their cities and playing music at their enemies while a giant hologram preaches at them.
The Space stage is by far the largest, longest and most complex of them all. It starts off with the colonization of a new system. After that, it's Wide Open Sandbox time, culminating in an encounter with the galaxy's most powerful and evil race.
The game has had a few spinoff games: Spore Creatures for the Nintendo DS, which uses a 2D creature designer rather than 3D, Spore Origins for mobile phones, which is basically a port of the Cell stage, and Spore Hero, for the Nintendo Wii and (as Spore Hero Arena) DS, which is more of an adventure game than the original, and focuses more on story and the evolution aspects. Another spinoff, Darkspore, was released in April 2011, combining an updated Creature Creator with an action-RPG.
This game provides examples of:
Abusive Precursors: It's all too possible to use the Monolith to create new civilisations only to kill them all off later.
In fact terraforming a planet with rare spice to T3, placing a monolith, letting it evolve to Space stage, then killing them off gives you more cities and is usually cheaper than just placing colonies.
It's also handy for dealing with systems that already have sentient life in them. Toss a couple monoliths their way, then once they get to the space stage, welcome them to the galaxy with all your might.
If you wish to avert this trope, you can simply enter into a trade route with them (they'll already be predisposed towards you for uplifting them), and then simply buy out the planet after a while.
Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The Tribal stage is about the only thing that can be taken at face value. For example, DNA is received for eating things in the "Cell" stage (since you technically control a multicellular microorganism, it is often referred to as the "Tide Pool" stage), or extincting/allying various species in the Creature stage. You can immediately add the most advanced parts you have unlocked even if you don't have what is logically a "prerequisite" part. And don't even mention the Schizo Tech and indistinct timeline of the Civilization stage...
Action Commands: The entire premise of socializing with other creatures in the Creature and Tribal phases.
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Largely averted, since each planet has their own values for the spices you have on you, and it changes from time to time. However, played straight when buying things from your own empire, such as a colony pak or an uber turret. Other empires sell those items for much less. Of course, the tradeoff is that your empire probably sells everything, whereas the other empires only have a small selection, so you'll have to wander around to find the best deals.
Alien Abduction: You can do this yourself in the Space phase, or it can happen to a nearby creature in the Creature or Tribal phases.
Alien Among Us: Averted. Although you can colonize Earth, there are no humans in the vicinity.
Aliens Are Bastards: Some empires in the Space Stage can be like this, most notably the Zealots. You can choose this path as well! All it takes is one Planet Buster and bam! You're the most hated being within a radius of several parsecs!
And of course, The Grox, who are the most hated and feared beings in the galaxy. Likewise, The Grox hate every other being in the galaxy.
All Planets Are Earthlike: Can be invoked should the player decide to terraform all planets into T3 planets. Otherwise its averted for a lot of them, which start out at T0 or maybe T1 with scant life on it. Interestingly, Earth itself in the game is only a T1 planet.
All There in the Manual: Actually IN the manual. The manual that came with the game refers to the in-game manual in the standard "to learn more about X see the in-game manual" format.
Alien Invasion: Inverted/Played Straight. In the Space phase, you can fly to other planets with sentient life on them and pretty much do whatever you feel like to them with little repercussion (civilization-stage empires may try to defend themselves, but they do pitiful damage to your ship). Of course, piss off other space-faring races and they may attack you.
Alien Sky: Among your spaceship's arsenal is a series of sky-coloring tools. Additionally, other planets may have, for instance, the star they orbit, their moon, and another planet in the system in clear view (best seen in Creature phase.) In addition to the "normal" Earthy blue, it's also extremely common for starter planets to have purple and orange and red skies.
Aliens Steal Cattle: Or whatever the local wildlife may happen to be; it's more or less the only way to fill out newly-terraformed planets' ecosystems.
Of course, in tribal stage, a spaceship may show up and fly around and steal any creatures you have domesticated from the pen behind the hut...
During the creature phase, at one point a spaceship will come down to your planet, and abduct one of the creatures near where your creature is currently at. Every creature around you while its hovering above you will understandably panic and run around during this time.
Allergic to Evil: There's a variant of this. If you try to abduct a Grox Citizen, the game will say that it cannot be stored because it is highly toxic and dangerous to the ship. This would imply that the Grox are naturally poisonous to other creatures.
Antimatter: Now available as handy air-to-air missile systems on every solar system near you.
Also available as the second-most powerful planetary bomb weapon, capable of leveling an entire city in one shot!
Apocalypse How: If you're feeling nasty, you can use your weapons to inflict anything from Class 1 to class X to a planet. Class X-2 and X-3 are technically partially possible (By somehow managing to stock up on Planet Busters), however there is no way to destroy stars.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The Tribal and Civilization phases have this.The Creature and Space phases let you recruit allied creatures/ships in your fleet as you reach higher brainpower/ranks, but there is a limit to those too.
Arm Cannon: Your creatures can evolve these naturally, if you so wish.
Armless Biped: An option, and often what you start the Creature stage with.
Atlantis Is Boring: Suspected to be one of the reasons for the Aquatic creature option being cut, it's still high on the list of fan demands, though.
According to Will, the Cambrian Explosion was cut due to bugs and he was looking into possibly putting underwater creatures in through an expansion pack.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Epic creatures can be any normal creature but fifty feet tall, able to kill any creature in one hit and pose a threat to any society in city stage except religious (somehow it is possible to convert them to your religion as well for a short period of time).
Hell, in Space stage they have so much health that, along with their fireball attack, they even pose a threat to spaceships. The space stage also allows you to buy a "creature enlarger", which allows you to create an epic.
Author Avatar: What some people may make their captains into in Galactic Adventures.
Awesome but Impractical: Planet Busters and several super powers break galactic code and will cause nearly every nearby civilization to declare war on you if used, and one costs about as much as 10 ship upgrades.
Possibly also Allying with The Grox. They have the best spaceships and most colonies in the game (all centered around the galactic core, nonetheless), but they'll cause EVERY SPECIES IN THE GALAXY to get such a high negative relationship boost towards you anyone you aren't strongly allied with will declare war on you, and even your most trusted allies will, at best, simply tolerate you, meaning your fleet will consist entirely of your ship and the powerful Grox ship, vs the rest of the galaxy
Though if you go to war because of your alliance you can pay your opponent to end the war and the negative moodlets will disappear.
The game-ending power of military civilizations in the fourth stage, the ICBM, launches nuclear-tipped missiles at every city left on the planet outside your control, essentially winning the stage with one click. Too bad the cities that you just nuked are essentially permanently crippled, as many of the buildings are replaced with radioactive rubble that you can't build over.
Baby Planet: All of the terrestrial planets are oddly small...
The Barnum: Industrious tribes form alliances, but they also make wars too. Economic nations will happily do trades, although it's a better deal for them. Traders are with allegiance with the almighty Sporebuck, so it seems...
Of course, they could also be a military and economic superpower too (hmm, who does that remind you of?) so always watch out.
Bee Bee Gun: The "Summon Swarm" tool from the Captain Outfitter.
Benevolent Alien Invasion: It is possible, with the right equipment, to visit a planet in the Civilization phase and advance them into the Space phase or improve the planet to make it more habitable, this also boosts your relationship with the target race.
BFG: The War Crime part for military vehicles. This trope also applies to the Planet Buster.
Hell, all the military weapon parts for vehicles can qualify, being that religious and economic parts look downright ridiculous.
Big Bad: The Grox. While you can befriend them if you really want to, doing so will pretty much make you the sworn enemy of every other race in the galaxy.
Spore Creatures has Gar'Skuther, AKA "The Infector".
Blessed with Suck: Fanatical Frenzy allows you to take over a planet without damaging the infrastructure—but it's best used on a one-star empire with no other systems but your own for a long ways around, especially if war is not feasible right now.
Body Horror: You can create some really fucked-up things in Creature Creator, especially with the Creepy and Cute parts pack.
Border Patrol: A giant sea monster keeps you from swimming to other continents during Creature phase. However, there are mods available that will get rid of the sea monster, effectively allowing you to explore your entire planet. Other continents will be completely devoid of any collectible parts, and will be empty of any other creatures besides your own - very strangely, they will be populated with nests of creatures of your own species, which allows you claim any of these nests as your home nest. This isn't advisable, however, since these other continents will lack other creatures to eat if your species is carnivorous (since you can't kill your own kind), and it's a bit of a pain to constantly swim back and forth between the "main" continent and the one you technically shouldn't be able to live on. And it's also very easy to get lost on your planet.
Some adventure creators employ this trope, since a good portion of the time, the adventure will most likely have a lot of empty and unused space.
Though oddly, these other continents do contain fruit trees, which is good for herbivores and omnivores. Also, doing this allows you to pick out a good location for your main base, since your home nest will become your village in Tribal stage, and your capital city in the Civilization and Space stages. (other creatures will spawn on the continent after the Creature stage is completed, too, so carnivores will okay during Tribal stage)
Butter Face: Using the Creepy and Cute Extension, it is possible to make a creature with a cute body, but a hideous face.
Command And Conquer Economy: Used but then averted - it's in full force during the Tribal and Civilization phases, but colonies buy their own vehicles (but, oddly, not buildings) during the Space stage.
Combat Tentacles: While the Creature Creator lacks a tentacle part, it is possible to give your creature a facsimile by retaining flagella from the Cell phase
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: You have a limited amount of space ships at any time, but any opposing empire can constantly Zerg Rush your planets literally every 10-20 seconds, making it nearly impossible to win the game via non-violent means or without cheating. Fortunately, the first few patches ease this out slightly.
Does your Tribe have spears and axes? Are they mere feet from the asshole who just robbed you? Too bad! The AI can just run over a certain area and get sped up and have their health refilled. Later do you want to use that area to recover from a raid? Again, too bad!
Convenient Questing: Played with - missions for alien empires in the Space phase will usually send you somewhere nearby, but it could be anywhere nearby, regardless of whether you've been there before.
Of course, with so many stars, it can sometimes be hard to find your destination even though it's nearby.
Contest Winner Cameo: Winners of official contests held on the Spore forums will have their creations featured on the website. Also, contests have been held that will also decide the designs of built-in creatures for Darkspore.
Cool Ship: You'll spend most of your time in the Space phase with one of these, so it would want to be cool.
Flying Saucer: One of the easiest types of spaceship to create: just plonk down the disc, maybe a cockpit, and spruce it up a bit.
Copy And Paste Environments: Averted or used, depending on phase - each planet is like this on its own, for the most part, so it seems like this trope is in effect during the Creature, Tribal and Civilization phases, but once you can travel to other planets in the Space phase (or you read The Art of Spore, which came with the Galactic Edition) you'll see that's not the case at all.
Copy Protection: The ever-controversial SecuROM. Oh lord, the massiveflaming that resulted from it being cracked a few days before release...
EA has released an expansion pack consisting of mechanical parts, available to only those who live in the USA (except Maine) who have bought a bottle of specially marked Dr. Pepper and input the code on the bottom of the lid into the computer. Needless to say, There Was No Rejoicing.
It is available on the internet though, presumably uploaded by people who bought the Dr. Pepper bottles. The good thing is that even thought the pirated version of the Bot parts exists, Maxis and EA didn't take action, but they warned that the pirated version is rather limited because you can't share creations with these parts unless you get the actual version and there is a bug in both pirated and non-pirated if you are trying to install GA in a certain order, it won't work correctly.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Trader archetype in space stage literally rubs off in this direction, being that cash infusion allows a player to instantly fill out the progress bar to buy out a planet quickly (with no consequences from other empires) and gives general purchases lower prices, resulting that a trading empire can literally bribe and buyout other empires without much hassle (and in turn, make more money in the long run).
Cosmetic Award: Ranging from "reach the next evolutionary stage" to "conquer stage entirely socially/violently" to "have your pals die an obscene amount of times." There are also more obscure ones (though these can often be viewed through the Achievements section of your Sporepedia) such as finding the Sol system and Earth, conquering all of the Sol system before receiving the Staff Of Life, and/or destroying Earth with Planet Busters. A considerable chunk of gameplay is getting them.
Covers Always Lie: Of all the creatures depicted on the cover of any Spore game disk (minus Darkspore), only two are actually included: Captain Barbados and the Solotto creature. A few of the others can't even be recreated with the creature editor.
Crop Circles: One Space Stage tool allows you to create these, though it doesn't seem to do anything besides alarm the locals.
Cultured Badass: In the Tribal stage, your tribespeople are equally proficient with weapons and musical instruments.
The Gorn and massive amounts of bloodshed in the trailer is particularly disturbing.
Dark Is Not Evil: A variety of horrible-looking creatures can be quite friendly and hospitable, and vise-versa.
Death from Above: Lasers, bombs, and pulse blasters are all available for your ship, and can all be used to wreak havoc on enemy installations. If that doesn't work, bring out the big guns: an anti-matter bomb can level a city, and if you really need to show someone you aren't messing around, a Planet Buster can destroy an entireplanet.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In the Cell, Creature and Space phases, if your cell, creature or spaceship dies or gets blown up, you just respawn back randomly, at your nest or at your colony you recently visted depending which stage you are on.
Death Ray: Your spaceship's Laser probably qualifies as one of these by the time it's fully upgraded. The Mega-Laser blows up Tribal Villages in one shot.
Defeat Means Friendship: In the Space stage, destroying enough colonies of an antagonistic civilization (excepting the Grox, of course) will cause them to scream in terror and bow down to you, reverting to a "don't care much" relationship. Since it's a good strategy to avoid getting wiped out entirely, it's pretty justified.
Distress Call: Your colonies, or those of your allies, will send these if they come under siege from another empire in the Space phase. A variation on the fake distress call is also used; pirates will fake the signal emitted by a "rare object" (either artifacts which can be sold for a quick buck, or planet-sculpting tools) in order to lure you into a trap.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. Run a mission or two for an alien empire and they'll be happy to form a trade route. Another few and they'll ally themselves with you, and lend you a ship for your allied fleet if you have room.
Indeed; later on, one can just go straight for alliance with a quick bribe for most empires, right after First Contact.
Also played straight. If you manage to wipe out every single one of the 2400 Grox colonies, you get nothing other than a badge and bragging rights. Other empires don't treat you any different.
Inverted and Averted if you ally with the Grox, the result: the entire galaxy hates your guts...
Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Planet Buster, to quote the manual, "destroys an entire planet. Feared by all. BIG BADDA BOOM."
Some Maxis-made missions even have giant eggs just standing there. They are always next to goodies that help with the mission.
Some planets will start playing the M.U.L.E. theme when scanned.
Easy Logistics: Averted in the Tribal and Space phases, in which your tribe members have to eat, and your ship needs to refuel, but used in the Civilization phase, wherein your vehicles require no maintenance apart from the initial purchase cost, and repairs after combat.
Eldritch Abomination: One Maxis-made adventure ends with facing down an ancient horror known as, appropriately enough, the Ancient Horror. You end up defeating it by giving a magic staff to a nearby altar.
It's possible to create one; the Creature editor is immensely powerful, not to mention you can enlarge it to epic size in the space age.
Enemy Exchange Program: If you capture another city of a different specialty in the Civilization phase and don't convert it to your own, you can build units of its type; especially useful for Economic civs, whose units have no military capacity.
Enemy Scan: Sort of. There's a Scan tool for your ship in the Space phase, but it's mostly used for keeping track of wildlife on other planets, rather than in combat.
Enemy to All Living Things: The Grox are literally this. They hate all Life, and all Life hates them. In fact, habitable planets kill them.
Energy Weapon: Some of your spaceship's weaponry falls into this category.
Everything Trying to Kill You: This can be possible in the core game, and it's employable in Adventures, all thanks to the power of the editors (and of course, your imagination). You can even make those exploding trees if you wanted to...
Evolutionary Levels: The only way to make any sense of the first four phases is to think of the game as an abstract representation of the whole deal.
The Cell Stage is, as unbelievable as it may sound, Truth In Videogames. There are actual microscopic organisms called Rotifers which can absorb DNA from other microorganisms, and even have body parts resembling those of Spore cells!
Extremity Extremist: Possible, if you specialize your creature beyond all sense in the Creature phase, thanks to LEGO Genetics; you even get an award for maxing out at least 4 abilities. You can continue this into the Tribal phase as well, but it's rather impractical.
Eyeless Face: You can create a creature without eyes, but without them, you stumble around in the dark.
Fetch Quest: One of the mission types alien empires can send you on. They're optional though, unless you want to improve your relationship with them so you can ally with them, get more money or you want to get more badges which increases your rank.
First Town: Adventure Town for the entire game and for your species' specific game, Vat Tego. Both are literal walks in the park (or town in their case) and provide the most experience you can get for a GA adventure (100 EXP, however all Maxis-made adventures give 100 exp to give fledgling captains a good start before tackling the user made creations).
Fission Mailed: In Galactic Adventures, if the last act in an adventure has no goal, you can win by using the beam-up button, which in other circumstances results in failing the mission. There's even a dialog box that pops up saying you'll lose your progress in the adventure.
Fluffy the Terrible: The Creature Creator allows you to name your species whatever you want, regardless of what it actually looks like.
Fog of War: In Cell and Creature, if the cell/creature created is blind. The only visible bit is about a quarter-ish of the screen big circle surrounding your creature, so you can only see what's directly in front of you, beside you and a little above you. It's kinda fun, too.
In the Space phase there's a dashed line beyond which names of stars will not load on mouse-over, as well as not being able to click on long-range communications from your colonies or other empires until they're within that circle. It corresponds to the maximum range of the best interstellar drive.
4X: The Space Phase. Not so much the Civilization phase, oddly enough.
Fragile Speedster: A captain with Shaman and Trader parts will be as fast and maneuverable as possible, but will not be able to dish out a lot of punishment.
Friendly Fireproof: Ships in your party won't get damage if you accidentally hit them. It will still piss your allies off if you do it on one of their planet anyway.
Furry Confusion: It's possible to have a sentient race on a planet, and also have the same race on the same planet as a non-sentient version.
Made even worse due to one glitch that will on occasion put a tribal creature as a non-sentient creature.
Game-Breaking Bug: Maxis actually released a patch for patch 1.05 to fix a problem that was making many adventures unplayable. However, the same patch can still cause creatures to be almost completely un-animated, "sliding" around instead of walking. That's right, they had to patch the patch and it still didn't fix all the problems with it.
You can target any ability at ships in your allied fleet. Most of the time, this is just an annoyance. When you accidentally launch a colony at one, however, the pack blasts into space and the game freezes waiting futilely for it to land.
During the tribal stage, a bug occasionally manifests itself where a member of the tribe (most often the chieftain) cannot move normally; instead, it rockets out into space and takes at least half a minute to come back down to the ground (if it comes back at all), not having moved horizontally. This makes it impossible to win the tribal stage using the "friendly" method, as the chieftain is needed to befriend other tribes. It looks cool, though.
Note that if you wait long enough, the member in question will simply starve to death. The chieftain even respawns in your village.
If you have a wildlife sanctuary in the Space Stage, DO NOT DELETE OR BAN ANY CREATURES THERE. This can result in the game crashing upon entering it. So eradicate any creatures there if you plan on deleting them.
They appear to have since been patchednote None of the patches mention them, but they are almost unheard of now, but early versions of the game, particularly pirated versions which tended to lack patches, had two incredibly annoying bugs. Both of these were tied to the planet, making it unusable for a main game no matter how much you reset.:
When transitioning from the cell stage to the creature stage, sometimes your first nest would be in the water. Attempting to swim to shore got you eaten by the sea monster. To add insult to injury, you'd often be eaten as soon as you reached shore.
In the space stage, sometimes the ship you're sent to scan when you first go to space failed to spawn on the planet you're sent to. Since you need to scan it to get the Interstellar Drive and exit the star system, this made it impossible to proceed.
In the Creature stage, if your species migrates to a new nest and your creature dies before reaching it, you have nowhere to respawn, and the game crashes. Very irritating, especially if you haven't saved.
Gang Up on the Human: Tribe Stage. Good luck trying to befriend a tribe when there are two inherently hostile ones in the opposite direction that take turns attacking you.
Also happens in the Space Stage when going to war. If two NPC empires are at war, the attacking empire will send a few ships to one planet and the defender will send a ship or 2 out and attack with turrets at the most to defend themselves. If the player attacks a planet though, the defenders sends swarms of ships at you in addition to the turrets relentlessly until you either leave or destroy all the cities.
Thankfully Averted in the Civilization stage; if you keep your relations with other nations high, they'll leave you alone and focus on each other
Genre Savvy: Maxis knew that people were going to make penis-monsters...and put in measures so that users wouldn't have to run into them.
Global Currency: Used in the Civilization and Space phases; Sporebucks are apparently the official currency of every nation on the planet and every empire in the galaxy. Sort-of justified in the Tribal phase, in which your "currency" is food.
G-Rated Sex: Spore creatures in the Creature phase apparently reproduce by emitting love-hearts and dancing with their mate. In the Tribal phase, an egg just rolls out of the main hut. Lampshaded in the manual, in which it is stated that "what takes place in the hut stays in there."
Guide Dang It: Finding Sol. With the mind-bogglingly huge galaxy in the game, it's amazing even one person was able to get there.
Want to capture colonies on non-T0 planets instead of destroying them? Aim your bombs for that yellow circle in front of the town hall.
Then again, the only (non-modded) weapon that you (but not your enemies) can fire in space is the Auto Turret, so going down into the atmosphere is the only option. On the other hand, there are some mods that raise the height of the available atmosphere for a planet so it makes it seem rather like space...
Holding Out for a Hero: Colonies, other empires and even your homeworld seem utterly incapable of preventing eco-disasters on their own in the Space phase. They can defend themselves from attack with turrets, however.
They still call for assistance whenever they get attacked by pirates though, despite bringing in massive fleets to quash them. Yet they still berate you for not helping out if you don't show up in time. Though, conversely, if you arrive just before the last pirate is demolished, they'll shower you with gratitude.
Holier Than Thou: Zealots. They tend to be a rather disliked archetype, despite an awesome superpower.
Hostile Terraforming: You can deterraform planets of an enemy empire to reduce the level of colony that planet can maintain (especially effective against enemy home-worlds, as it reduces them from thriving T-3s with extra settlements, to a basic T-2 with two settlements at best). Empires will regard this as an act of war. More in line with this trope, the Grox, Enemy to All Living Things, can be killed by terraforming their planets, and likewise they specialize in deterraforming.
Hurricane of Puns: Pretty much all of the parts in all editors are like this. A special mention should go to the weapon part "Goes to 11".
Special mention goes to the Parkaboy (a Maxis employee) adventure "Bauder's Gate".
Huge Holographic Head: The full body version. Although depending on creature, it can be a lot less cooler than you think.
Improvised Weapon: An occasional glitch in the Tribal Stage causes a maraca-player to, instead of swapping the maracas for a weapon, add the weapon onto the maracas.
And another achievement, "Oh, The Humanity," for blowing it up. Speaking of humans, they apparently don't exist in this game; Earth is actually guaranteed to be a T1. For whatever reason, terraforming it fully will turn the land red, and deform the continents.
Though there's nothing to lose from destroying it, as it never has any valuable spice.
In-Universe Game Clock: Used on a far larger scale than day and night; it's completely possible, and, indeed, there's an achievement for it, to guide a species from a single-celled lifeform in a tidepool to a space-faring empire in one sitting.
It's Up to You: There are tons of examples, but the most horrific is how, during the Space phase, every 15 minutes or so an ally will beg you to defend one of their planets against that biosphere's version of Mad Cow Disease. Now, these are space-faring races who have their own navies - and larger ones than yours, since they have one ship per planet, whereas you have one ship total. But somehow you are the only individual in the whole damn galaxy who can fly down and laserbeam the infected animals out of existence.
At least the ecologists have a (flimsy) justification. When they send people out to exterminate them themselves their people see the creature's sad eyes and can't carry out the job. But considering that they sell items meant to decrease the chance of ecological disaster....
Every single adventure uses this trope. Some creators manage to throw in a Hand Wave though explaining that your captain is some sort of paid mercenary or part of a major alliance and just so happens to be the right person for the job...
Kaiju: Epic Creatures. They are a potential threat in every stage, but are most dangerous at Creature level.
Killer Rabbit: The Grox look like cute little cybernetic hamsters... until they start blowing your planets up. Also occurs with random species due to user-generated content combined with the nearly limitless potential of the Creature editor.
Level Grinding: Galactic Adventures is rather bad about this, mostly because your captain has ten ranks to go up with (in which you earn the chance to get any part with each new rank), and every new rank usually requires roughly double the number of points your earned for the previous rank. This results in most people playing things like Clark & Stanley and other simple easy adventures that tend to only give you 5-30 points in order to rank up to get a new part so that they can play the harder, larger adventures worth 50 or more. Factor this in with the fact that a single captain can't earn the points from the same mission after the first playthrough, and you'll have a bunch of frustration trying to find worthy missions.
Macrogame: One of the basic precepts of the game's uniqueness.
Made of Explodium: Buildings designed to look like stage props for adventures all explode when destroyed, regardless of what it is or how it's destroyed, e.g. having your captain gnaw a wooden bridge until it runs out of HP will cause it to go boom. You can also disguise bombs and grenades as other inconspicuous objects while retaining their explosive properties.
Sometimes friendly species will let you. The way to find out if they will is attack the egg. If they don't react, it's safe. If they become territorial, mad orange face, stop and make friends with them again.
Mega Crossover: The game can become this, if the player is skilled enough (or just downloads the right sporecasts, anyway...)
Meta Power Up: The scientist and ecologist parts in Galactic Adventures. Scientist parts increase energy storage and recovery (very important if you use warrior or bard parts), and ecologist parts increase health capacity and allow for health recovery.
Mind Screw: Due to the way the creatures you find on planets are often randomized, once in a rare while you may run into a planet that contains the same creatures your race evolved from. While there's no gameplay differences, it can get interesting should you decide to use those creatures to help stabilize T-scores on planets, as well as use a monolith on them.
If you don't have many other creatures of your own design in the sporepedia and move from Creature to Tribal, the Tribal Stage has an odd tendency to make some tribal villages out of earlier versions of your current creature, in addition to earlier versions spawning as non-sentient creatures.
Money Spider: When enemy ships are destroyed in the Space phase, they sometimes drop tokens (shaped like money bags and gold coins) which can be abducted with the Abduction Beam for money. It's never explained exactly why this is, but could probably be handwaved as salvage which is then sold or as money being carried on the ship when it was destroyed.)
The first cell dead that has a new part qualifies, as does any alpha creature in the next stage.
The Monolith: Featured as a tool to accelerate the development of more primitive species and civilizations. May be a Shout-Out to Spore's spiritual ancestor, SimEarth, as well.
Multi-Mook Melee: The adventure "Infestation", and a a good 75 percent of the Adventures you'll find on the Sporepedia. They get very boring very quickly, though.
Musical Trigger: Somewhat worked out during the Civilization stage; religious powers are church-like and optimistic (save for the Black Cloud), economic powers are based on cash registers and 80s style corporate music, and military powers use radio-talk noises over tense orchestral music.
Mutually Exclusive Powerups: You can only have one of each type of attack at a time in Galactic Adventures- if you want the poison slash attack you'll have to give up the energy slash.
My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Aside from the issue of you only having one spaceship while other species have many, there are only a maximum of 9 types of creature per alien planet (while creature stage has a considerably larger number), and alien tribal planets will have all their tribes be the same species, unlike the actual tribe stage in which there are multiple species.
Natural Weapon: In creature stage, you can weaponize your creature in many ways.
News Travels Fast: The very moment you ally with the Grox, every empire in the galaxy will know and reactaccordingly.note it adds a -200 relation modifier to every empire, causing all but your closest allies to declare war. How your allies react depends on how much you spoiled them before making your Grox alliance. This even applies to species you uplift afterwards.
Nice Hat: Once your creature is sentient, all manner of funky headgear is available for it to wear.
And Galactic Adventures provides even more.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: During one of the Robot Chicken-designed missions, you have to attend the wedding of a race of pig people, but when you fix someone's car it speeds out of control into the city and runs over the groom. The punishment? you take his place.
No Biochemical Barriers: Any carnivore can eat any herbivore, any herbivore can eat any plant, any omnivore can eat anything and they can all breathe any atmosphere. Probably justified by the Rule of Fun, however, as filling out a T3 ecosystem would be an enormous pain otherwise.
No Fair Cheating: Using certain cheats in saved games activates the Joker badge, which disables achievements on that game.
Non-Entity General: Averted in the Cell and Creature phases, in which the player character is in control of the cell or creature in question, as well as the Tribal phase, in which the player is implied to be the tribe's Chieftain and Space where the player is the ship's Commander, but used in the Civilization.
One-Man Army: Played straight during the cell stage, and potentially during the creature and space stages. You can kill/wipe out a lot of creatures on your own (though you could ally with some too), and any creatures traveling with you will aid you in attacking anything you're fighting.
Largely played straight during the space stage. Like the creature stage, you can get allies to travel with you, but you have to wonder why your one spaceship is the only one out of your entire civilization that makes contact with other space civilizations, terraforms, sets up colonies, and attacks planets/defends colonies. Made more egregious by the fact that when attacking other planets (or they invade an ally/one of your planets), they have several ships on that planet, and while at war, they also send spaceships to attack you while traveling their space.
The Only One: The player, particularly when the Grox show up for a 20-on-1 furball. Averted in that, instead of succeeding handily, you die a lot. Your only saving grace is that you respawn, for free, at the last one of your colonies you visited; in fact, it's not uncommon for the respawn video to show you flying into a sky that pieces of your previous ship are still tumbling out of.
Alternatively, you can just pick up the Shield upgrade, Mega Bomb the Grox while safe, and then GTFO.
Orchestral Bombing: Used whenever you're going to use the gadget bomb in the Civilization stage. When the weapon is about to be launched, a tense timpani tap and low brass drone is heard, and upon launch, a massive set of horn falls and timpani rolls. The reason for all of this? The gadget bomb does massive damage and even leaves behind nuclear rubble that can't be rebuilt on.
Palette Swap: You might run into a few of these, since creatures are player-created.
Pass Through the Rings: When you reach Space phase, an optional tutorial requires you to fly through illuminated spheres above the cities.
Planetary Nation: This is a requirement to exit the Civilization stage to move onto the Space stage. Same goes for every other galactic empire out there, though they often have more than 1 planet; also Uprisings only happen for entire planets.
Planet of Hats: Kind of the whole point in the civilization stage, in which you must conquer the whole planet into a One World Order for the space stage.
The game also provides a more literal side of this: during the civilization stage, any city you capture will switch the architectural style over to what you're using (even if the buildings are ruble) as well as the vehicles. In the space stage, you can choose what buildings and vehicles you want for each planet. However, all of the citizens wear the same outfit regardless of what city or colony they come from.
Planet Looters: Pirates will occasionally raid one of your worlds, or one of your allies, and try to steal your spice. You can also do that to other civilizations, although doing so will anger them.
Planetary Romance: You would be surprised at how elaborate some players can be when they create adventures or provide a backstory for a race/captain on the SporeWiki; the evolutionary stages as tracked in your history can give you a great overview of what happened to get your race from a mess of slime to a spacefaring empire.
Player Data Sharing: All of the creatures, spaceships and other content a given player generates can be uploaded to "Sporepedia" and downloaded into another player's game. The result being that Sporepedia has well over 100,000 times the amount of content the game had when it shipped.
Precursors: Implied. Someone built the Grox (and were possibly destroyed by them, unfortunately) and left the Staff of Life at the center of the galaxy.
You're fully capable of becoming this trope with the Monolith. Whether you're abusive or benevolent is up to you.
Rock Beats Laser: Averted. Your single spaceship can easily wipe out an entire tribal and even a modern-era civilization, and there's nothing they can do about it. (Played straight, though, with how your relatively young space empire can eventually defeat The Grox.)
With the way the civilization stage works in this game, it can be possible for say, a steampunk-esque nation to wipe out a cyberpunk nation, since both of those elements are merely cosmetic choices.
Can also happen literally - have just enough vehicles to destroy a city's turrets, and the citizens will start pelting junk at your forces in defence.
That's only if you're attacking with Religious vehicles. The citizens can't do a thing to Military vehicles, since they're too busy panicking or dying.
Also done in an odd fashion in that a tribal phase species, if they arm and deploy all of their tribe members, can take down an Epic creature fairly easily, while Epic creatures are all but entirely impossible to kill in any other phase.
Romeo and Juliet: Included in one of Maxis' adventures, right down to the characters' names.
RPG Elements: Featured prominently in Galactic Adventures, where you can raise your ranks by completing adventures, unlocking items each time you progress.
Samus is a Girl: During the mating sequences, the creature you control is the one who's laying the egg. Admittedly, your creatures could be hermaphroditic/asexual/gender-switching/etc.
Save Game Limits: You can't save inside a planet's atmosphere in the Space phase, but this may be due to engine limitations. It's hard to tell.
It does appear to be possible, since banning a creature while inside a planet's atmosphere (thus causing your game to automatically save and restart) works just fine, and simply teleports you to just outside the atmosphere of that planet. They just don't let you do that in normal circumstances.
Save Scumming: A helpful way to avoid taking missions you don't like.
Since most star systems don't generate planets/spice types until you travel to them/are sent there for a mission, you can use this to gain star systems with valuable spice types on their planets.
Scandalgate: The unpleasant fan reaction to EA's insistence on using severe DRM in the game became known as "Sporegate" in the community.
So much so that they are the most hated archtype in the Space stage simply because, unless you've allied with them, its either PAY US 500,000 SPOREBUCKS! or DIE UNBELIEVER!
Schizo Tech: The game is deliberately quite vague as to whether you are using Magic from Technology or Magitek, presumably so the player can interpret it however they find appropriate to their species.
The part about the speed of space travel is played straight with travel between stars occuring in seconds, but this is necessaryto make it playable. The odd part is that enemy ships can still pursue and shoot at you at the same speed they would in-atmosphere...
Serial Escalation: Any Clark & Stanley mission will be this. Just what can kill them or the player, other characters, and possibly even the entire planet, depending on the creator's imagination for the plot can be rather... odd.
Shout-Out: The strange disturbance at the center of the galaxy, the only even somewhat arguable ENDING to this game, turns out to be "Steve", who looks inexplicably like the UFO from SimCity 2000, released 15 years earlier. The real kicker is the opening cinematic in 2000 even SHOWS the UFO traveling to the center of a spiral galaxy!
Also, multiple references to 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
To get an idea of how much Maxis loves these two titles, the cutscene that takes place when your creature becomes sapient mirrors the monkeys in 2001. It even plays the same music, for crying out loud. Not to mention that you can place a monolith to make a creature on a different planet sapient. Hitchhiker references are all around too, most significantly being that the achievement you get for reaching the center of the galaxy is 42. You obtain an item called the Staff of Life, which has 42 usages.
To quote the SporeWiki, the zealot armor is not unlike that of the space marines in Warhammer 40,000.
An entire Maxis-made adventure is a funnier, happier version of Romeo and Juliet.
Another Maxis-made adventure is a spoof of the classic Schoolhouse Rock short "I'm Just a Bill", and has you, among other things, killing senators to represent the debate process and discussing taxes on Grox-held worlds.
If you have Galactic Adventures, go into the creature creator, go to Partial Styles under Paint Mode, and select Details, you'll see a GA button. The one color scheme in that section looks suspiciously like a RedShirt.
Just to save ourselves from massive overloads of shout outs, players in Spore (if creative enough and with help of the editors) can create their own shout outs in adventures and creations they make.
In a meta shout-out, the creature on the leftmost side of the banner at the base of the SPORE forum is Godzilla.
Sidequest: Pretty much every mission other empires send you on in the Space phase is one of these.
Single-Biome Planet: Planets have "Tiers" of life, with up 9 different plants, 6 different herbivores, and 3 omnivore/carnivores; and you can customize them down to the color of the land, sea, & sky. And they can be anything from a lifeless T0 moons to a thriving city-speckled T3 gardens.
Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Military civilizations eventually gain the ability "ICBMs," which nukes every other nation on the planet into submission. Rather than leaving the cities and the surrounding areas in irradiated ruins, it causes the cities to switch sides, ending the phase and letting you launch your spacecraft.
Also, using the ICBMs creates piles of rubble in the nuked cities that cannot be rebuilt on. The Military strategy is arguably the hardest to rebuild from when you reach the Space stage, since the other methods of capturing cities at least leave the buildings and population intact.
Averted with the Planet Busters. Using them causes a huge hit to your relationships with every alien race and will cause them to declare war on you, in addition to not ever being able to use that planet or any moons orbiting it ever again.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: As a rule of thumb, the "Red" evolutionary choices lead to more cynical archetypes and the "Green" ones lead to idealistic ones. The cynical archetypes mainly focus on how to survive in a nasty and hostile universe. Warriors believe in being stronger than anyone else, Scientists believe understanding the universe better increases chances of survival. The idealistic ones focus on how it can be improved. Shamans believe everything is connected and want to foster that sense of one-ness. Diplomats are huge believers in The Power of Friendship. And then there's The Zealots who show that mixing the two leads to a very bad place indeed.
Of course, nobody mentions those non-extremist "Blue" evolutionary choices, which will usually reside into the more "best of both" approach. Traders make alliances based on who's got money and is friendly to them and won't hurt anyone. Bards are the entertainers of the galaxy and do what they can to stay out of trouble. Scientists may be cynical, but they rather study about a race rather than kill off a race.
Bards are actually Chaotic Neutral to the point of inviting another species over for a party then eating them and even ask the player if they are ready to be eaten as one of their greetings.
Cell: Level 3. You can move freely about the pond and have a choice of whether your creature eats algae, meat, or both, but pretty much all you can do is move and eat until you accrue enough DNA to move on.
Creature: Level 4. You can move freely, though strong Creatures serve as a sort of Beef Gate until you've gotten enough DNA points to upgrade to their level, but at a couple points are forced to follow your species to a new nest before you can upgrade. There's still only one objective (get enough DNA to proceed,) but you can choose between violent or peaceful means (or a combination) to get there.
Tribe: Level 3. You can again choose violent or peaceful means, and the order in which to take on other tribes, but either way the only thing to do is conquer/befriend all opposing tribes while occasionally stopping to get food.
Civ: Level 3. See Tribe, replacing "tribe" with "city" and "food" with "Spice."
Space: Level 6. You can ignore all but the very first couple tutorial/storyline missions if you'd like, and the galaxy is so big it's likely impossible to visit every star in it.
Socialization Bonus: Averted. The game is kind enough to download player-created content automatically if you leave off the option to only download your Buddies' content.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Galactic Adventures offers some very nice music to use in your adventures, but due to the overall quality of most adventures, sometimes the music doesn't even belong and will literally drive you nuts.
Many lazy authors will simply use the first songs on the list for their adventures. Thusly, "Angelic Dream", "Ancient Kingdom", and "Ambush!" tend to be used a LOT.
Space Compression: Either that, or the planets in the Spore-verse are very, very small. Seriously. It's possible to circumnavigate them in less than thirty seconds at sub-light speed in a spaceship, and by scale your cities are as big as Europe. You can't actually put one onEurope without it distorting the land under it.
In addition, gas giants appear as big as the stars they orbit, not to mention most star systems have planets that appear to be too close together to not be affected by each other's gravity.
The planet seems much bigger from ground level (Creature and Tribal stages;) this trope mainly takes effect after you hit Civ.
You can also sort of play as a Space Pirate - just find a Civ planet and then swipe the spice crates off the cities. There is even an achievement for stealing enough spice.
No reason other than that they can? When you conquer the last planet of a certain species have you ever noticed that the spaceships flying away are now labeled "pirate"?
Speaking Simlish: Less grating than usual, since there's no logical reason for Simlish not to be spoken.
Except that the aliens all have mostly humanoid voices, even if their mouths resemble those of birds or insects.
In the space phase, other alien races have solid Simlish dialects that give away their archetype. Robotic monotone voice filter? It's a scientist. Rough, Klingon sounding voice? Then it's a warrior. Your own race and other save-file races for each colony chooses from three normal sounding Simlish dialects.
Speculative Documentary: The "Xenoplanets" adventures that have been growing in prominence, in which creators can frame their species and/or civilizations as part of a futuristic television show. Of course...
Starfish Aliens: Many of the creatures you may encounter in the game, actually. Of course, there's nothing stopping you from making your species this.
Starfish Language: If your Tribal Stage hnau has the Gobsterclaw, Handibles, Handtennae, Pincernaut, Toucan't, Buzzbeak, Buzzmuzzle, Skexybeast, Cantovis, Splatypus, Snapgator, and/or Grubblemaw mouths.
Stock Footage: GA will always show one of two animations for the "beam down" sequence and the "beam up" sequence. What can make it really jarring, is the fact that some adventures can end with every character being horribly killed... and your captain bursts into a dance while cheering and laughing.
Stupid Neutral: Creatures that aim for the "neutral" alignments on the second and third stages must go bipolar befriending and killing random species or villages, for there is no way to evolve without tilting your alignment towards "aggressive" or "pacific" alignments. The neutral position gets an actual alignment in the Civilization stage, though (Economic).
Suicidal Overconfidence: Comes up surprisingly often in the Space phase if you get the upgraded Proton Missiles early.
Summon Bigger Fish: It isn't easy to pull off, but if you're having trouble with a particularly difficult enemy in the Tribal Stage, you can set one of your villagers in front of an Epic creature and carefully lure it toward the enemy village... Hilarity Ensues.
This is both easier and more effective in the Civilization stage. In fact, if you're a Religious civ, you can even convert Epics temporarily!
Super Drowning Skills: Played straight and averted. When you go swimming in the creature phase, a giant sea monster will eat you. However, in Galactic Adventures, it's possible for you to swim across an entire planet if you want to.
Take Your Time: Largely averted with many missions, as they have a timer attached to them, such as "kill 5 infected animals" or "kidnap a citizen from another (usually non-spacefaring) civilization". However, the main story missions such as contacting the Grox, and doing various other things such as collecting spice or colonizing planets, or even going to war with other empires, can be done however fast you want.
Still played somewhat straight, however: The timer for most missions only starts when you get there. You can jump in and out of a few wormholes and then come back to do the mission.
Tech Tree: Averted. You get new parts for your cell from meteor fragments or other cells you kill, new parts for your creature from skeletons, or they're given to you by other creatures you befriend or kill, your tribe gains new tools by conquering or allying with other tribes, and your nation gets new powers and the ability to build air units by converting, conquering or purchasing other cities in the first four phases, respectively. The space phase goes about acquiring new tools in a strange way: they're unlocked by earning specific badges, and then have to be purchased from an alien empire which sells them (or your own, but at a large price premium.)
Technology Uplift: The player can do this on planets they visit by planting a Monolith there. If there are already civilized beings, they'll soon achieve spacefaring status; if not, whichever animal species has a nest closest to the monolith will be quickly evolved to that level.
Techno Wreckage: The Adventure "It Came From The Sky" takes place in the dilapidated research station known as Project Icewater.
Terraform: Found a system in a convenient position, but want your colony to be worth something? No problem! Just break out the terraforming tools, fill out the ecosystem with some wildlife, and you're ready to go!
Terrain Sculpting: In the space stage, there are numerous tools to modify the shape of any planet you care to visit. However, these are entirely cosmetic and have no tactical or political effects. Also, colonies automatically flatten an area around them when placed.
The Chew Toy: Clark and Stanley in Galactic Adventures. When they die, the player bursts into a dance, followed by the end mission text calling you out for being a Jerk Ass.
The End of the World as We Know It: Subverted. You can destroy the Earth and win an achievement doing so. However, no one is around on the planet to watch in horror. Or stop you.
The Federation: You can build one by having up to six allies. Or it would be one if your friends weren't so prone on declaring war on each other at the drop of a hat. By choosing archetypes properly or just having them far from each other, one can avoid that problem.
There Are No Tents: Your tribal warband never seems to think to take some food with them when they head out to exterminate the enemy tribe and burn their village.
Timed Mission: Most of the missions you can take from alien empires are at least partly timed.
Too Awesome to Use: Some of the spaceship tools for which you can only buy one expensive charge at a time are like this.
The Zealots can take over a system with a socialization tool, leaving the cities and people intact. However, this results in a huge relationship penalty.
Too Dumb to Live: The AI in the Space Stage. One can't start to imagine the thought processes of a species, that owns a single planet, that leads them to declare war on a species of superevolved predatorial lizards, with a hundred times larger Empire than them. Even more if said Empire destroyed an entire planet five seconds ago in their vicinity just because it would be faster than bombing each city there into oblivion using antimatter. The outcome is as expected.
At some point in the space stage don't be surprised if two your allies declare war on each other.
Bullying a Dragon: Zealots and Warrior races will still demand tribute if they don't like you, even if you are a colossal space empire with far more advanced technology and they are a single planet species...
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Mostly averted. Once you conquer or ally with another tribe in the Tribal phase, you get their tools.
Sadly true for 75% of the cell body parts. Only the most basic of four sets is available for player cells.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Averted. If a nest of creatures, tribal village, or non-space faring civilization is flown over, the residents will panic and run around. Even using a friendly tool to communicate with them will make some residents panic. Civilization phase races tend to ignore the player, unless the player attacks the city or steals spice.
An interesting case in Creature and Tribal: If a spaceship appears, your pack/tribe will be the only ones to not run around in terror.
Useless Useful Stealth: Played straight in creature where the only time stealth is useful is running from an epic. Inverted in Galactic Adventures though since only "Kamikaze Creatures" will attack the captain and make him visible.
Variable Mix: The game's music is made with procedural generation.
Video Game Caring Potential / Video Game Cruelty Potential: Though it seems rather skewed toward the latter. Having a bad day? Go abduct some citizens of the empire you're at war with and throw them across the planet at high speed! One of your allies cuts off a trade route with one of their planets? Turn it into an inhospitable ball of rock and lava! They take one of your major spice-production colonies in retaliation and resist all attempts to take it back? Well, if you can't have it, no-one can!
Heck, it's almost enforced by the mechanics of the game - if you wish to colonize a solar system already inhabited by a sentient species, even if it's in a tribal stage of development, the simplest way is to just annihilate them. The humane alternative involves uplifting them to interstellar civilization status using an expensive one use item, negotiating a trade route, and then buying out their home system after the trade route has been in place for long enough to activate that option. And even this method smacks of economic imperialism. Incidentally, if they sell your their last planet, their empire is still wiped out, and the game informs you of it.
The best choice is to meet the two halfway. Uplift them to the space stage, then wipe them out and move into the colonies THEY built (and since it's their homeworld, they'll have more then the maximum number of colonies. Though it's not neutral as much as it's outright slave labor.
The former is encouraged in the earlier stages though: allied creatures can be added to packs, allied (and befriended) tribes give gifts, and and economic and religious tactics leave buildings as they are.
Though occasionally, circumstances allow a bit of cruelty in those stages, too. Say, in the tribal stage; another tribe raids you, and once you defeat their raiders, the tribe declares you their enemy. Kite an Epic creature to their village with one sacrificial villager. Hilarity Ensues as the Spore equivalent of a Kaiju completely decimates the enemy.
In the Creature Stage, genocide is usually the easiest solution (since you can focus on being a straight combat race and not worry about getting allies or food); in the Tribal stage, socialization becomes far easier and more beneficial.
The cruelty potential skyrockets when you realize how many ways there are to defeat an enemy in the Space stage. Bombs and lasers work just fine, but you also have the potential to use your terraforming tools to un-terraform your enemy's home planet. You can literally land on a lush, verdant planet with billions of animal and sentient inhabitants and do one of the following: make their atmosphere too dense to be livable, use a heat ray to turn the planet's surface into molten slag, use a freeze ray to turn the planet into a ball of ice, or suck away the atmosphere until there's nothing for the inhabitants to breathe. The best part is that if you do this before officially declaring war on the inhabitants, they won't realize what's going on until the planet hits T0 (uninhabitable), at which point they'll wise up and promptly declare war. At this point, though, all but one of their colonies will have vanished.
This is also a great way to wreck an opponent's economy. Unless they've got a number of T3 planets with three colonies and spice storage elsewhere, it's likely their home planet is the biggest producer of spice. T0 planets can't produce spice. And you can just as easily un-terraform any other T1+ planets your opponent has colonies on as well.
Bear in mind also that weapons and tools in this game do NOT differentiate between friend and foe. That means that whatever you can do to your enemies, you can do just as easily to your own people.
Your behaviour modifies your environment. Play as a creature who enjoys slaughtering anything in their path and your home planet will become a Death World because your species has killed anything that can't kick your ass.
Virtual Paper Doll: In the Tribal stage and beyond, you clothe your creatures using something resembling this.
Video Game Flight: Played straight in creature stage and in Galactic Adventures, in which the wings only have so much flight power and glide before you fall back down to the planet. Averted in Tribal, Civilization, and Space stage, in which winged creatures will fly around with no real problems when going from location to location.
Schmuck Bait: The "Bad Baby!" Achievement, which required a creation of yours to get banned from the servers. Unsurprisingly, every GIFT and their mother created the stuff. It got so bad, the achievement was actually deleted.
Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In the Creature stage, trying to force a herbivore to eat meat, or a carnivore to eat fruit, will promptly cause them to vomit (and gain no nutrition from it). Omnivores, of course, are immune to this.
Weaksauce Weakness: The Grox's great weakness is... Life! Habitable planets literally kill them. Although they can still bomb you from space if you put any cities down there.
What the Hell, Hero?: Most of the "Clark and Stanley" adventures has the computer pretty much say this, as your captain dances shortly after they're killed.
Any adventure that has you kill a bunch of troops, citizens, or whatever else and then learn that it was the wrong target or that they never did any wrong... for instance one mission ending with a line "...after all this destruction you decide to dance around like an idiot..."
The ICBM in civilization stage... Sure, it's funny as heck with the cheesy military music and the yee-hawing, but unless you've got only two cities left to conquer... you're gonna have a very big mess to deal with that can hurt your progress in the space stage.
Winged Humanoid: All too easy to create, and a very good Game Breaker, as flight can easily get you out of dangerous situations in the creature stage and adventures (as well as to deal with poor level design by adventure makers). There's even four kinds of wings you can use (each with their own level of power) in the details section.
Womb Level: One Maxis-made adventure has you shrink and travel into a cell, Magic School Bus style, to learn about protein synthesis.
World-Healing Wave: Essentially what the Staff of Life does, creating a wave that sweeps over a planet, raising it to a fully developed ecosystem instantly.
You ALL Look Familiar: All individuals of a species look alike, except any captains you make from that species can have different clothing/armor.
Thanks to a glitch involving the Hologram Scout, you can make your citizens all look like your captain.
You Are Already Dead: Does the creature you are fighting have fewer hit points than your spit deducts? It is a dead critter crawling.
You Have Failed Me: Unable to complete a mission or stop a biodisaster within the time limit? A relation penalty will ensue.
Zerg Rush: The main offensive strategy of your opponents in the Space stage, who like to send 20 ships to attack your planet all at once. You are unable to employ it, being limited to a maximum of six ships (five of which are AI pals who have, at best, 75% your HP).
This is possible to employ yourself, to a extent, if you tell an ally to attack an enemy planet.
Also useful in the Civilization stage. Hammering that 'create land vehicle' button is fun.
Doubly so with air units, given that they tend to be the strongest in the Civ stage and most times, the remaining cities will be on a different land mass, and boats just take too long most times. Try not saying "Checkmate." when you've got over 30+ air units sitting next to the last opposing city waiting to blitz the shit out of it with a single click of a button.
Sometimes, weaker animals in the Creature stage may do this to your stronger creature. Also, your creature and packmates may mob a stronger creature, or lure one to your nest for a serious Zerg Rush.
Mobbing Epics is not advised since they can kill even Rogue creatures in three hits and will recover more health from eating the corpse than the thing inflicted in the first place.
Juniors can do this to you in the Cell stage.
Omnivorous cells get this as a special ability later in creature stage.