Spyro Reignited Trilogy - Review
Toys For Bob knows what it’s doing. Fresh from the success of dragging Crash Bandicoot into the twenty-first century with its N. Sane Trilogy, the Californian offshoot of Activision has set its sights on that other PlayStation mascot: Spyro. Three games filled with fire, gems and jumping, the series originally sold millions over the course of three years, so it made financial sense for the remaster train to keep chuffing onwards to Ker-ching City.
But this isn’t a lazy, cynical port like Shenmue, or even a tweaked remaster along the lines of Shadow of the Colossus. No, this is a package which has been built from the ground up, treating the source material with utter respect and delivering a fresh, vibrant, and faithful experience which will delight devotees of the originals and no doubt garner more new fans along the way.
Each of the trilogy follows variations on the same theme. The original Spyro the Dragon sees the feisty purple one taking on Gnasty Gnorc and his band of Gnorcs (a word which elicits giggles to this day), while freeing other dragons imprisoned in statues. Ripto’s Rage pits Spyro against an evil warlock, while Year of the Dragon tasks him with saving a hundred eggs from the clutches of an evil Sorceress.
The level design has stood the test of time thanks to Insomniac Games’ original knack for pacing and action, so very little has changed in terms of navigating each land. What is immediately noticeable are the graphics which no longer have an angular and slightly sinister bent to them, but instead feel like something plucked from a Dreamworks movie. And it isn’t just for show either — each of the huge cast of baddies has its own attack animations and even though most of the combat is as simple as either flaming or charging them for a one-hit kill, it is still incredibly satisfying. Additionally, each of the dragons you rescue in the first game has its own character model and voice and while some of the things they say are repeated or have very little impact on proceedings, it’s nice that they aren’t simply cut-and-paste copies. There are rockstar dragons and artist dragons, warrior dragons and mage dragons. Oddly, they are all male which does beg biological questions. Yet the Skylanders developer could feasibly spin out an entire cartoon series based on the populace of the first game alone.
There are other positive changes too, such as the movement and camera now being fully mapped to the analogue sticks and guidebooks which track progress of your collectible challenges and overall game completion. These are now helpfully included in all three games rather than just the second one, while a fast travel option means you can skip between worlds at any point. It doesn’t help with the considerable loading time between each area unfortunately, but the worlds are so colourful and appealing that you’ll most likely spend time scouring each one to try and 100% it before even considering moving on to the next. You’ll bound around collecting gems to the beat of Stewart Copeland’s revamped soundtrack, investigating nooks and crannies and chasing irritating egg thieves all over the islands.
Though the glorious new coat of paint layered over a solid platformer will make this a must-buy for any nostalgic fans, there are a couple of caveats. The challenge level is all over the shop at times, especially in Ripto’s Rage. Boss fights are laughably simple in the first game but the second one veers from a cakewalk to brutally punishing, often within minutes. The main cause of frustration for many is likely to be the dash action which never properly lines up with where you’re facing unless you come to a complete stop and painstakingly point Spyro at his target. This often leads to some crazy circling of enemies rather than actually hitting them. Areas where you need to charge around the map using boosters to gather your speed charge are equally hit-and-miss, requiring you to painstakingly map out the lay of the land beforehand so you don’t go hurtling into the water, toxic goo, or thin air.
There are also flight challenge levels which require you to collect items, zoom through rings, or blow things up, all while airborne. In a bizarre omission, you can only use inverted flight controls to complete these — the option to map up to “up” and down to “down” is simply not included. While these are optional challenges, that isn’t the case in the second game where these same controls are used in underwater levels and really feel out of place. They might be fine for aeroplane purists, but we’d have hoped Toys For Bob would have added a simple mapping to give players a choice. We can only hope it appears in a future update.
If you’re looking for value for money, Spyro Reignited Trilogy has it in droves. You should budget eight to ten hours per game if you want to blast through them, but add over ten more if you fancy trying to platinum everything in each game such as the additional Skill Points added to the trilogy which involve you finding hidden objects or performing certain moves. Each game brings something new to the table even though the basic foundations are the same, and the tweaks made as part of the rebuild mean that it’ll be more likely to appeal to kids as the difficulty level has been reduced. That doesn’t mean you can sleepwalk through the games though; there are plenty of teeth-gnashing moments to keep you on your toes, the difference is that the shiny graphical update makes them far easier to forgive.
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