Spyro: Year Of The Dragon

Very quickly, I’ll throw this in- Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rampage was a Fin.

I played Spyro 2 immediately after finishing the first game, and it didn’t seem worth making another post for it; It’s part of the same collection, and technically I have already played it, in its original form. After finishing Spyro 2 however, I decided I wanted to take a break from the genre for a while before jumping into Spyro 3, a game which I haven’t played previously.

Well, I’d been hoping for a little bit longer of a break, but the dice have decided as they will. So here’s Spyro 3, hot on the tail (heh heh) of my previous post.

There’s… not a whole lot to say that wasn’t said before. It’s Spyro 3, which is a great deal like Spyro 2, which was quite a lot like Spyro 1. Ripto’s Rampage added a lot of complexity to the first game’s barebones affair, but the meat of the meal was mostly identical- collect gems and thingamabobs to progress through aggressively-colourful worlds, using jumping, gliding, and fire breath to solve mostly-harmless platforming challenges (and, in the case of the infamous Treetops level, a couple of infuriatingly difficult ones).

It’s a safe bet that if you like any one of these games, you’ll probably like the others, but that’s a double-edged sword; irritations you have with one game almost certainly weren’t resolved in the others, either, and 3 games in those irritations start to chafe.

It’s my blog, so here’s mine- the games all require you to fail. It was the dawn of a new era- video games were taking those first bleary steps into 3d worlds to explore, and developers wanted to encourage you to dive into every nook and cranny. Spyro did it by hiding gemstones in every crevice imaginable. But when collecting those gemstones is literally the aim of the game, that kind of exploration becomes a chore, instead.

Lets take the most basic standard platforming challenge- a pit you must jump across. If you fall in, you have to climb back up, and try again. Most games will put a small collectible down there as a sort of consolation prize, but where Mario might give you a handful of coins, Spyro hides its game-centric gems instead- meaning one way or another, you have to fail the challenge. Either you deliberately jump down into the pit to get the gems, and then try (and potentially fail!) the challenge for real, or you attempt to pass the challenge, and upon your success you have to go back into the pit anyway. That’s tremendously unrewarding game design by modern standards, and all 3 titles are absolutely rife with examples of it.

Fin or Bin:

I do enjoy these old platformers. Warts and all, it’s fun to bounce around these open areas and find hidden little secrets to investigate. With a few noteworthy exceptions the Spyro games tend towards the easier side of platformers, and Spyro 3 appears to be no different. It’s a Fin, then, as I’m not having a bad time- but it’s not the strongest recommendation, either.

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Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Ours was a Nintendo household back in the days when collectathon platformers reigned supreme, and so Spyro and Crash were eschewed in favour of Mario, Banjo, and Kazooie. It was a few years after its prime that I first got to play Spyro, and along with it the sequel (I don’t think we ever got the third one, bu it was a long time ago). So, I go into the Reignited collection not with nostalgia exactly, but some memory of how the whole thing goes.

First and foremost- this is one hell of a remastering. I don’t quite have the technical chops to tell for sure, but it seems like the entire game was remade from square one (and, speaking of Square, releasing in the same timeframe as FF8 Remastered puts the latter to absolute shame). It’s more beautiful than my not-too-shabby computer can handle at its best, but even on the toned-down settings Spyro’s still a visual treat.

Unfortunately, the controls still feel a little archaic- I’m not familiar enough with the original to know if they’ve been updated at all, but the camera is very slippery and needs only the gentlest of inputs to careen wildly around Spyro. Still, the level design is basic enough at this stage of the genre’s development that you don’t need fine control to get by.

That’s not meant to sound like a sleight against the game; the original game came out before every platformer had seven hundred different collectibles to find and a slew of awful minigames which didn’t work correctly, and in some ways it’s refreshing that Spyro The First avoided all that clutter.

Fin or Bin:

Well, there’s technically three games here, but they all likely play similiarly enough that I don’t need to Fin/Bin each one in turn. I’m having fun with Title One, but remember Title Two being far superior, and I want to know how Title Three compares. Fin!


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