These early concepts are from a time where the game was all about sponge. Players would collect sponge whilst playing and then use it to create with.
Create was far more integrated into the play side of things too though - in these shots you can see some sackfolk building a bridge with sponge in order to progress... and also some kind of sponge statue of David. Would Michelangelo have approved? Undoubtedly (dude).