Original Release Date: September 1998
Remake Release Date: November 2018
Original Console: Playstation
Remake Console: PS4, XB1
Spyro the Dragon is one of those gaming mascots that is remembered very fondly…he is one of the few characters that has evolved over time, and he has a version of himself for every generation since his creation (even if the original fans do not always agree with these creative choices).
Myself…I was OBSESSED with Dragons growing up, and as the gaming world moved into 3D platforming, the announcement of Spyro the Dragon really was a dream come true. I was hell-bent on getting this game…to the point where I drew Spyro all over my 3rd grade homework, talked about nothing other than Spyro, and even dreamed about Spyro until my Mother finally bought me a Playstation and the game for Christmas.
Aaaaaand then I proceeded to beat the game in an hour.
I have been wanting to write a review for this game for awhile (as it is still one of my favorite games of all time), but like with the original Pokemon games, the idea of writing a review was overwhelming as I wanted to do the game justice. Still, with the arrival of the Reignited Trilogy in November of 2018, I am glad that I waited this long, as now I can compile everything into one massive review, and not have to worry about covering the same game twice.
But enough of my rambling…you already know the drill, let’s get into this this!
- The Story:
—Spyro was back in an era where a game did not have to have a complicated story in order to be enjoyable. Mario had to save Princess Peach from Bowser, Banjo had to save his sister Tootie, and Spyro had to rescue all the Dragons that had been trapped in Crystal by Gnasty Gnorc.
The game set you up with this funny cutscene really setting the tone for where we are in this game. The Dragon Kingdom has been at peace for awhile, and during this time has become rather wealthy. When asked about a character called Gnasty Gnorc, another Dragon proceeds to insult this character saying he is simple, no threat, and is overall ugly. This angers Gnasty Gnorc and he uses his magic to turn all the Dragons into crystal statues…everyone except Spyro who then sets out on his adventure.
That is the basis of the story…and as you progress, the importance of collecting the stolen treasure and stolen dragon eggs is added, though overall it is the Dragons that are of the utmost importance.
—Spyro was also released not only when 3D platformers were all-the-rage, but also when collectibles were popular. It had become a staple of gaming to not only beat a game, but to collect everything in a game to finish it with 100%
Spyro took that to a whole new level. not only did you have to find every Dragon in every world, but you also had to find all the gems in every level. This often required very precise platforming, and exploring every inch of these open worlds. Sometimes gems could only be achieved by completing a stage fully in one-try…which made the game a lot more difficult if you truly wanted to complete it. After that, you also had to make sure and collect every Dragon Egg. So even if you could beat the game in an hour without collecting everything, getting all gems, all dragons, and all eggs after beating the final boss allowed you to access a special, final level where you could collect the final 2000 gems, and have the bragging rights of having beaten the game at 120% instead. This also gave you a 2nd ending to appreciate…which at the time was really cool.
- The Map:
—What made Spyro the Dragon fun and unique was the varying worlds you could access. Each world had so many levels, a flying stage, and then a boss. After collecting so many Dragons, you could then hop on a hot air balloon to travel to the next place. Each world was themed. You start in the Artisan Home, then the Peace Keepers…etc. Each world represents a different type of Dragon and shows the role they have in this realm. The final world is Gnasty’s World where the main villain has been locked up with his goons. What I loved about the map was how different each place was. One moment it’s hills and shrub mazes, the next it’s floating pillars and magical cannons, and in another instance there is a vast desert and toxic water, and then you’re in a swamp. That’s not even including all the varying levels with their own looks. It was just a very fun and pleasing game to look at…the levels and changing environments kept things very fresh and nothing ever stood out as being re-used or being boring. The maps also had all their own challenges for gathering gems…and even when outside of levels there were secrets to find and puzzles to solve. Everything about this game was engaging!
—Another thing that makes Spyro such a good game (in my opinion) is that, not only is there not an overly complicated story, but Spyro isn’t overly complicated either. He can charge using his horns (which also allows him to run super fast), he can breathe short bursts of flame, and he can glide using his wings. Naturally he can walk and jump and all that. But even with such simple moves, the game really puts you to the test on how best to use those moves.
Most enemies can get blasted with fire…but what if they are wearing armor? Well, fire won’t work, so you just have to charge those guys. But what if the enemy is big? Fire might work here since you’re too small to charge them. But then again there is sometimes an extra step. Maybe the big guy is plated and can only be flamed from behind. Maybe they are too fast to shoot with fire so you have to charge them and knock them off a cliff because they will lose their footing.
Even running and gliding is used in very strategic ways in order to get all the collectibles. There are also power-ups in the game…usually in the form of a super fire or a super charge…and these also come in handy when doing things like blasting apart metal or reaching new heights.
- Boss fights:
—The boss fights in Spyro the Dragon have always come off as hilarious at most. I wouldn’t say that they are difficult, but rather they test your knowledge on how Spyro works. They basically make you use almost every tool you have picked up in whatever world you are in and it throws you into a stage to test your mastery of said-mechanics. The bosses are all 3-hit wonders much like Mario, and as mentioned before, most have a touch of humor to them. Most memorable to me is Toasty from the first world and Dr.Shemp from the second world. Nothing beats finding out that the first boss is not what he first appears, and who wouldn’t get a laugh at flaming someone on the rear and watching them hop away? Bosses are another fun little challenge with a nice gem bonus if you beat them.
- Flying stages:
—My least-favorite thing about Spyro the Dragon has always been the flying stages. The flying stages are generally the hidden stage of each world, and as you can guess, it is the only time where Spyro can fly. But why is it my least-favorite? It’s because these courses are timed. There are 4 things you must do in each of the flying stages…this could be anything from flying through rings to shooting down airplanes with your fire-breath. Sometimes it’s lighting the Lighthouses or diving under arches. Maybe it’s destroying cars or treasure chests…
But there are always 4-things you must do in order to complete the level for its gems…and if you want all the gems for the level, you not only have to complete the 4 tasks…but you have to finish it all in one go. Most of the time these objects are scattered about in a way that you have to develop a plan of attack if you want to get all the objects within the time limit. And if one thing goes wrong, you will have to retry the stage because there is no recovering from it.
I despise it because I have never been a fan of “precise-gaming” which is what this is…and on top of that, expecting it to be precise within a time limit is very stressful. the flying stages are pretty and the music is great, but you just never have the time to absorb any of that while trying to get that final object when you’re down to the last few seconds. And if you wanna complete this game 120%, the flying stages are a necessity…and boy do they get stressful! I think the general consensus is that the flying sequences don’t even control very well which was improved in the remakes of the first game…but not entirely.
- Final Boss:
—The final boss is Gnasty Gnorc, and like all the other bosses, there is not much of a challenge to him. Rather he is a collection of all the different skills you have obtained in the game, specifically running. Gnasty’s fight consists of you unlocking his platform and then chasing after him. Then you have to flame him 3 times and he is done for. The main group of fans have always been disappointed with how underwhelming the fight is…but considering how great the rest of the game is in comparison, I guess I never minded as much. I loved the platforming during Gnasty’s fight…and when you are going up against him for that first time, the fight still seems daunting. There is always the worry of what will happen if you don’t catch him in time. I think it’s just the reflection on the battle afterwards that leaves people a bit bummed about how short it is.
But as mentioned before, Gnasty is not the end of the game! Sure, if you beat him then you have technically “finished” the game by saving a majority of the Dragon Kingdom…but if you didn’t do everything 100% then there’s no way for you to get into Gnasty’s Treasure Room, and there are still Dragons to save and gems to collect! Luckily the game lets you continue after you beat the final boss in case you truly wanna go that extra mile.
- Reignited Trilogy:
—When Crash Bandicoot got his reboot in 2017, fans were begging for Spyro to get the same treatment. Both mascots had always gone head-to-head in popularity and sales, and this was something we could only dream of! That’s when Toys for Bob delivered in late 2018 with the Reignited Trilogy. The game was actually pushed back from its September release due to glitches, but fans were just happy that the developers wanted us to receive a more polished product…and polished it was.
Mere words cannot describe just how great the Reignited Trilogy is. For one, it’s a collection of the original 3 Spyro games on one disc, and for two, the game came out for the Ps4 and Xbox One giving Xbox gamers a chance to try out these amazing classics for themselves. In the case of the first Spyro game, the graphics were stunning. Where before most of the Dragons rescued looked very similar…now they all had unique appearances and voices. They all had their own crazy personalities which made them even more fun to collect and really emphasized the difference between the Dragon worlds. The worlds themselves were so detailed but also very familiar. The amount of detail is stunning with the same music being redone by the same composer. Even a lot of the old voice actors came back including Tom Kenny who took over as the voice of Spyro in Ripto’s Rage came back to voice the purple Dragon.
Spyro in general looks better and controls a lot better. His movements are so smooth and players now have the ability to choose whatever camera style suits them the best. I chose the classic “passive” camera mode…but a lot of people prefer active as it is not as hard on their eyes. Even the dreaded flying stages were made much easier just due to the fact that the graphics are a lot cleaner and smoother, and the flight controls are much better. It doesn’t mean they aren’t challenging…but it made them a lot more tolerable. Because of the better acting and the graphics, even the cutscenes are a joy to watch, and it just made my heart melt with nostalgia.
So…if I were to recommend the original or the Reignited Trilogy, the trilogy would be what I recommend. While I will always love the original, I know that older games are not for everyone. I feel like the Reignited Trilogy truly is the best experience for newcomers to the series, and, if you’re curious to see the difference between the two, then just watch a YouTube series on the original game.
I might even do a blog on the differences myself…though I have to admit that outside of some graphical improvements and maybe some voice acting, the game is pretty much the same. I also recommend the Trilogy because it is available for two major consoles. It is more widely available for people to try and on top of that, you are getting three games for the price of one when you buy the trilogy whereas the original fluctuates in price due to how well it was taken care of. With the original you have to have the system to play it and then a memory card…but with the Trilogy, none of that is necessary, and the autosave feature in the game is really nice.
Either way, both versions are so much fun, and Spyro the Dragon will always be a game that is near and dear to my heart. I can only hope that my review has done it justice.
But let me know what YOU think!
Have you ever played Spyro the Dragon? what is your favorite version or Spyro and why? Do you prefer the original games or the Reignited Trilogy?
As always, let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section down below. Thank you all so much for reading and your continued support of this blog! I will see you all in the next one! 😉