Spore is really great! My kids love it, and the one time I was given a chance to play it, I had a lot of fun. You get to evolve from a single-cell microbe to a land-dweller to a tribe to a civilization to a space captain. My kids have only scratched the surface of the easiest level so far.
A couple of caveats:
1. You have to have a video card with a lot of video memory to be able to run the program. My husband got a laptop a few months ago and that machine can run it, but my 2-year-old laptop can’t. So be sure to check the system requirements against what you have.
2. My son gets frustrated in some of the stages where some of the other creatures are hostile. There’s no way to change the settings to something like “make the entire universe a peaceful place,” which is what he would have preferred. At least at first while he was just getting to know the game. Now that he’s been playing for a couple of weeks, he’s more comfortable with the “natural” state of things.
3. When you make it to the space captain stage (that’s not exactly the right name for it, but that’s all I can think of), you get offered missions by creatures from other planetary systems. If you complete those missions, you gain better standing with them which can help you open new trade routes or make an ally against another hostile species. Stuff like that. Some of those missions are less than ethical, such as going to a specific planet and killing all the creatures who are said to have a certain disease that could threaten the rest of the population. At first I was put off by those kids of missions, but then I realized they just give me another opportunity to discuss ethics with my kids. You don’t have to accept the mission, but if you don’t, of course, you don’t climb the ladder of success as quickly. And that’s yet another topic to discuss with them.
4. We haven’t done anything on the Internet yet. So far, we’ve just played on our machine and haven’t explored the online Spore world.
Mostly the game is just plain cool and fun. It’s really fun to design your own creatures and to see which features give them advantages in their environment. So I recommend it.