Biology of Spore Attacks

August 29, 2012

Currently I am playing the classic SNES RPG, Breath of Fire II. While most of the characters in the game are anthropomorphic animals, one character, Aspara Gus, is an anthropomorphic plant (in the version I am playing, his name is Aspara Gus, and goes by Aspara, while in other translations, he is just called Spar).

Aspara is an interesting character because he must be one of the first truly transgendered characters in a video game. Upon meeting him, they not only refer to him as being emotionless, but they also wonder what gender he is precisely. This sort of makes sense in the fact that he is basically a walking and talking plant. (Plants do sexual reproduce, thus requiring “male” and “female” gametes, but oftentimes plants will produce both, thus having the ability to self fertilize). Interestingly, if you fuse Aspara with one of the elemental shamans, Sesso, he becomes what looks like a small girl with a big hat, making him truly, transgendered.

In this fusion form though, Aspara has a special ability called “Spore” that can attack all enemies and has what seems like a 1% chance of making them fall asleep. Now here’s my question, how did spores get aligned with falling asleep?

Though many plants, fungi, and bacteria all have the ability to produce spores, fungal spores are usually what comes to mind first. Fungal spores are generally the cause of most mold allergies that plague people who live/work in older, mold infested buildings. Spores cause an interesting problem for these buildings. Spores are the way for fungi to massively reproduce. A fungus can produce millions of spores, release them into the world, where they then find a new warm moist place to inhabit and grow. Because they are being thrown into the wild so haphazardly, these spore cells are specialized to be able to withstand tons of environmental stresses: high temperatures, low moisture, etc. Though these stresses do make it hard for the spores to grow into full on molds, these stresses can’t actually kill the spores (though high heat can, but it has to be really really hot). This makes eradicating the spores virtually impossible.

It is important to note what spores are. Fungi, like plants, can exist as both haploid (one copy of each chromosome) and diploid (two copies of each chromosome (humans are diploid)) organisms, and the spores are the result of diploid organisms (termed sporophytes in plants) undergoing meiosis to form haploid spores. These spores spread all over the place, and grow into haploid organisms (termed gametophytes in plants) that can then produce gametes which can mate to produce new, genetically unique, sporophytes. This whole process is called alternation of generations.

Pollen, which is what we are generally allergic to with plants, are the male gametophytes. Spores in the anther of male flowering plants become these tiny organisms made up of only a few cells, which then get packaged very tightly and securely, and are often times released into the air and into people’s noses.

This is not the only game that uses the moniker “spore” to mean an attack the causes the enemy to fall asleep. In Pokémon, Spore is the signature move of Parasect, a mushroom Pokémon. The strange thing about this attack, is that they had already created a similar grass attack that makes the enemy fall asleep: Sleep Powder. So the only reason why they would have wanted to create the Spore attack would be to fit Parasect’s mushroom like biology better, but in doing so they created an attack that a mushroom could in theory have, but would not cause sleepiness.

I do want to point out that these are the only games where I have found “Spore” to mean a sleep attack. I can’t find any other game with a spore attack, and most games that have a sleep status effect calls the attack some play on the words Sleep, Hypnosis, etc.

I actually disagree with this whole spore thing because they could have made this work in a much more biological way that would still result in the same desired effect. They could have made sneezing a status effect. What it would do is prevent the person/Pokémon from being able to attack because they were sneezing. Spores can actually cause sneezing, so biologically this would fit, and with how I laid out the sneezing status effect, it would be practically the same as sleep. They even could have made sneezing a different status effect, for example, it prevents the character from attacking as well as does some damage to the user, or even all players. Just a thought.


One comment

  1. Hello from across the ocean! This is just what I was hunting for, and you wrote it nicely. Thx

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