Spyro the Dragon was the first game I played on my own PlayStation in December of 1998, and cemented in me a deep and abiding love for Sony.
I’m a fanboy; sue me. When the Crash Bandicoot NSane Trilogy dropped last year, we all knew a Spyro remaster was on the table. Lo and behold, Toys for Bob brought us another triple helping of classic platformer goodness. And this time it’s even better.
I’m not going to recap the plots of each Spyro game. There’s a bad dude (or dudette), a set of collectible milestones, gems, and minigames. Look, plot is not why we’re playing these.
Spyro original recipe is both the weakest and the strongest of the collection. I’m not entirely sure what the correct unit of measurement is for nostalgia, but the first game is bursting with them. However, there are some key weaknesses. First off, the simple quality of life updates that the latter games enjoyed are non-existent. Which I can’t complain about, obviously; the fact that Toys for Bob have recreated everything just as it was is a key component for why I enjoyed this so much. But damn, the little jump Spyro can do at the end of a glide would have come in handy SO many times.
The first Spyro is also short. Like, ludicrously short. Shorter than these sentences. It must be a remnant of my youthful interpretation of time, but I completed the first game in about six hours. And I mean completed; my save file shows 120% completion. But I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it, and would tentatively call it a perfect remaster.
Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer (I will NOT call it Ripto’s Rage, and you can’t make me) and Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon are both far more in-depth games. Adding new abilities to Spyro’s kit, as well as more advanced minigames and actually memorable NPCs, they are what people should remember about the original trilogy.
As with any remaster, there are highs and lows. Voice acting is… well, not just improved, but actually there. Do you remember Spyro’s original voice acting? Or the dragon’s lines? They haunt my nightmares. Animation is utterly superb, with the graphical overhaul being truly, truly beautiful.
Stuart Copeland’s soundtrack is still one of the most pleasant and enjoyable video game scores of all time. You can listen to it reignited or as it was two decades ago; both are equally excellent. I’m not a huge fan of trophies, sure, but the little mini challenges in each level really add something to the game. I mean, c’mon, you know you always smash and burn everything anyway, you might as well get something tangible out of it.
Lows? Well, Sparx, our happy dragonfly friend who helps to pick up gems, sometimes goes on strike with no warning, which is pretty damn irritating. I’m a busy dragon, buddy, I don’t have time for these shenanigans.
For all it does right, there is one enemy that even Spyro cannot defeat. Gnasty Gnorc, Ripto, the Sorceress, none can compare to the pure evil and savage malignance of: the camera.
I don’t remember what I did to make this camera hate me as much as it does. I don’t remember brutally beating this camera’s family and making it swear revenge on me. But here we are, in 2018, and this camera wants to literally kill me. Whether active or passive, every second was a constant battle with this malicious viewpoint, and my right analog stick, though it tried valiantly, could not save me from motion-induced dizziness.
For real, the camera is a nightmare.
The Spyro Reignited Trilogy has successfully stoked the embers of my smoldering love for this series. Some may flame it for being a quick burn, but behind the smokescreen of updated visuals and a blazing hot soundtrack, there’s enough tinder to rekindle your memories of these classic experiences, or spark joy in a new generation of hotheads.
Was that enough fire puns? Whatever; buy this and thank me later.