E.V.O.: Search for Eden

Pixelcade on Monday, 01 November 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's note: I was playing the game while I edited the article. It strikes me as being just as interesting and fun as Pixelcade says, and I can't help but wonder why Spore was not more like this. Check out the article, then get the game -- evolving your creature is immediately addictive and satisfying. -mossy_11

At some point in my misery called high school, on a good ol' fashioned "I don't feel well" sick day (which was conveniently a Friday), I drove up to the local video store and looked for a few games. Browsing the covers it seemed to me that every game was the same -- I had either played it or had no desire to. Out of nowhere appeared this cool looking box with the letters E.V.O.: Search for Eden (although with all the cool graphics I only noticed the E.V.O. part).

The back of the box had my favorite style of pixel graphics, featuring lots of color and creative designs. I thought, "What the hey, I'll give this one a shot for the weekend." Upon getting home and powering it up I was welcomed by an impressive musical score, which played as the game's title came into view over a space shot of half our planet. I have always enjoyed science and the history of how things came to be, but I had no idea I was about to embark on a creative study of evolution and the geological time scale, as they were understood by scientists at the time.


Let's get the logistics of the game out of the way: E.V.O. was published by Enix for the SNES in 1992 in Japan and made its way to America in July 1993. To look at the game as someone else plays it you'll see elements of a successful side-scrolling platform game. There are items to collect and enemies to get along with, in addition to jumping, swimming, or flying. The wonderful audio in this game was done by Koichi Sugiyama, who is best known for his work on the Dragon Quest series.


Okay, with all that technical stuff out of the way, let's take a look at E.V.O.! You might ask, "In what time period does this take place?" -- since I made the reference to evolution. Well, it goes from the "World Before Land" (Devonian Period) to the dawn of man, in five stages. Each era is a different level (or sequence of levels). Also, there are some liberties taken with creatures during the time periods. The continents form from Pangea and go throughout their structures today. There is a twist at the end to explain life on Gaia.

Your narrator is Gaia, the daughter of the sun. She appears throughout the game, whenever things change or levels are started/completed. So what's going on in this game, you may ask. You control a creature -- be it fish, reptile, mammal, or bird. The game can end prior to the end of the time-scale, depending on your choices in evolution. The game starts with you as this fish that looks more like a giant tadpole. As you attack things like jellyfish you eat the meat they drop to gain EVO points.


As you build up your EVO points you can evolve various parts of your creature, such as jaws, body size, tail, or horns. This alone makes the game worth playing. I am one of those gamers who, when presented with a game like this, is driven to see it all. I can create every variation of a creature. Some things slow your creature down. Some speed it up. Others do many things when you combine them.

I'm sure you emulator fans out there can find a ROM of this game but I have to end the story along the lines of GET THE GAME. GET THE SYSTEM. You owe it to yourself to keep true classic gaming alive. No matter your beliefs on evolution, you owe it to yourself to give this a shot -- disregarding the evolution aspect of it if necessary.

Have you beaten the end boss Bolbox? Can you attain evolution into a human? It's super hard and without a guide you probably won't do it. Lets hear from you all!

If you are interested in writing or contributing to a future Retro Game of the Week, please see here, or declare you interest on the forums. If you would like to suggest a game for discussion, please post to this forum thread. You can see all previously published entries, and any confirmed as upcoming, by looking at this thread.

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