Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest is a hybrid. No, it doesn’t run on a combination fuel cel/electric battery pack. It’s a cross-hybridization of Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol’s re-forestation premise, Pokemon-esque creature evolution and Pikmin-ish group control and combat. If it were powered by an alternative fuel, it’d most likely be adorable squirrel power.
You play as the bipedal magical fruit and commander, Dorian, sent to the forest with hordes of colorful and talented "Wood Spirits" - aka magical beavers and squirrels - to dispatch an army of robots and the mechanical, environmentally destructive monstrosities (aka apartments) they've created. When your cute troops have some mid-mission down time, they can plant trees to help bring back the green and spawn a few more buddies. Between battles the Spirits enjoy walks in the woods and overly repetitious multiple-choice mini-games.
Initially, sending woodland creatures to tail-swat and fatally nibble mechanical opponents, dance around sprouts, build bridges and rearrange nature makes for a cute and enjoyable game. There’s also an undercurrent of complexity as Spirits develop individual personalities depending on how you play with them and the types of mana they are fed.
An hour or two into this game, however, you'll remember the expression, “It’s like herding cats,” and want to change it to, “It’s like herding squirrels.” As your forces grow, troop management becomes a frustrating combination of tiny icon tapping and drawing circles around an overcrowded, unorganized mass of animals. Only troops currently in view can be commanded, while others wander aimlessly to all ends of the battlefield. Even if you miraculously manage to call them all to attention, there’s not an easy way to keep the three spirit types separated.
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