Hopefully you haven’t missed the news that was leaked by Amazon of a HD remake of the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy coming out on 21st September of this year.
I recently had some time off, so decided to play the original three games before I get my copy of the Reignited Trilogy and it’s gotten me thinking, a lot. Enough to write an article about it.
I played all 3 games in order (all 3 platinum edition too) on my PS2 and managed to 100% everything (or 117% everything in the case of Year of the Dragon) within 9 days or so. Let’s see how games I played consistently throughout my childhood to my memories of them in adulthood.
Spyro the Dragon (1998/PS1)
This is easily the one I dislike most from the trilogy (not the entire series – we’ll get onto that later) because it was the hardest. But it was the paving stone of a great series, so I wouldn’t say I hated the game. I found Spyro a little bit too cocky throughout the cutscenes. I nickname myself the ‘Loot Whore’ of gaming because if there’s anything to collect, I will hunt for it – even if it takes me hours. So naturally, this game was great before I even picked up my controller – crystalized dragons, gems and eggs to collect – what more could a 5-year-old girl ask for? I have the least memories of this game and any that I have are ones of getting frustrated to having to collect gems (mainly).
Replaying this was not as bad as I thought it would be. OK, it was frustrating at most points (don’t get me started on Wizard Peak – luckily the music from that level kept me sane) and I mostly enjoyed it. The bosses were OK but I felt like there was no real cohesion from them – a tiki warrior, a giant robot, a jack-in-the-box thing and a sheep disguised as a scary, tall man? And the final boss fight with Gnasty Gnorc was a bit of a let-down.
The game was good, but I just remember future games of the series being much better.
Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer (1999/PS1)
OK, this game came as a bit of a surprise to me when I first played it. The whole game had a huge makeover (graphics-wise) and introduced so much more that made this game much better compared to the first. Granted, there were less hub-worlds but we now had side-quests, more characters and more abilities for Spyro to learn (including a headbash and climbing ladders), as well as power-ups in each level you could activate after defeating a certain amount of enemies. It was still a huge collect-a-thon with gems, talismans and orbs but this game seemed huge compared to the first one. The humour was much better and Spyro was much more fleshed out as a character – actually seeming kind and somewhat caring compared to his previous bratty self (he basically matured, despite not much time passing between the games).
I really liked the short intros and outros when entering different levels (which sadly to not feature in future games). I feel like much more love and care went into this game from the developers, which in turn made us love it more.
A have some bad memories from this game too (not as bad as the first game) and replaying now, they didn’t seem too hard. This doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle in some places, but I didn’t get overly frustrated like with the first game. When I started up the game, I remember dreading having to go to Fractured Hills in Autumn Plains because of the Alchemist challenge – I really struggled with that one when I was younger. But this time, I managed to do it within a few tries.
But like with the first game, I didn’t really enjoy the speedway levels as you often couldn’t do them in time by doing everything in order so you had to mix it up sometimes, but even then it felt like a chore. Also, I didn’t really enjoy the first boss battle with Crush but the next two with Gulp and Ripto were much better and more enjoyable.
I also really liked the fact that once you defeated Ripto, you didn’t have to collect all the gems and orbs in order to ‘complete’ the game – it was more of a reward to go to Dragon Shores and see what it’s like if you do. And even then, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you were a hard-core fan as it’s just a bunch of fairground-themed mini-games afterwards and a theatre where you could watch previous cut scenes. Still, feels good to 100% and not to face a final boss like the previous instalment.
Spyro: Year of the Dragon (2000/PS1)
Now, this is the game I remember loving so much during my childhood – I never 117% (or a 100% for that matter) until I was much older, but even then I was satisfied with just fighting the Sorceress (for the first time) over and over again purely for that fight (easily one of my Top 10 Boss Fights…maybe I’ll write an article for that someday…).
This game carried the abilities Spyro learnt from Spyro 2 (a feature I like) but still expanded gameplay with other playable characters – including Sparx, who had his own worlds and gained new abilities after completing.
However, are playing it again recently, I will say I’m a little disappointed. I think because I was quite underwhelmed. I didn’t get the same feelings I did when I played it way back when (apart from when I started it up) but equally I didn’t get bored, which I kinda did with the other two.
This game is much easier compared to the other two too, apart from the controls. I found when using vehicles and the like, the controls could be pretty annoying (similar to Spyro 2 – I got hit a lot during the Gulp boss battle when charging around the circle to avoid being squished, but that may have been my own stupidity). And I found myself enjoying the speedway worlds – especially the Hunter challenges. The boss fights were fairly easy (apart from Spike – that was my least liked one out of the five of them) but there were a few side quests I had to redo (especially the Shelia one in Spooky Swamp).
But overall, with the combination of side quests, playable side characters, great levels and great music (one of my favourites…maybe another article for another day) along with a possible copyright infringement (Tara from Desert Ruins, who largely resembled Lara Croft, which came out around the same time as Spyro, so I think it was an homage really, but regardless, I loved it) and made for a great game. Easily one of my Top 10 Favourite Video Games of All Time (another article maybe?) and one I love replaying.
Still I wish it had kept some things from Spyro 2 like then intros and outros for each level and having power-ups available in very level, but beggars can’t be choosers. But this still my favourite of the trilogy and I can’t wait to see what it’s like remastered.
I did play a lot of other Spyro games such as the Gameboy games (Season of Ice (2001), Season of Flame (2002) and the two crossover games with Crash Bandicoot of Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy and Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto’s Rampage (2004) – they were OK, I guess, but the two Season games were much better) along with one of the DS games (Shadow Legacy (2005)) but there were two games that really let me down, so naturally I decided to replay them.
The first was Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly (2002/PS2) which I was mega-excited for when I was younger, and did play it a lot. But let’s just say that after capturing around twelve dragonflies and visiting three levels, I called it a day. The storyline is great, but the dialogue, humour and animation (lag-central, seriously. And over-the-top mouth animation) just made it really hard to play and not enjoyable. There are some concepts I liked, e.g. collecting Dragon Runes and returning them to the Spirit Dragon, as well as the new ability of Wing Shield but the fact that there was only one hub-world – despite having multiple hub-worlds in previous installments – and Ripto returning with no explanation of how he survived (along with Crush and Gulp, who can suddenly talk?! And not that I’m not happy about Ripto returning, he’s one of my favourite villains…again, I need to stop giving myself so many ideas for future articles), it was just a heap of trash. As if it was the Tekken 7 of the series – a lot of potential, people excited for it, but ultimately half a game compared to its processors, despite a lack of technology back then, so you expect it to have more and…sorry, I’m ranting.
I also played Spyro: A Hero’s Tail (PS2/2004) which I liked back when it came out, but was just another disaster for me to realise when I got older and replayed it. Again, like Enter the Dragonfly, I like some of the abilities like the rolling ball thingy and some of the new characters like Blink (as well as playing as Hunter again with his bow and arrow) but the humour didn’t hit (yet again); the level design was OK, the storyline kinda sucked and they changed to control scheme (circle has always been to breathe fire and square to charge, but they swapped it over for this one!) just made me put it down after an hour. That, and Spyro’s stupid prancing when moving around, his dumb new voice actor (Jess Harnell), the ‘love interest’ Ember and Moneybags now suddenly changing his accent (I know he’s have more than one voice actor since Spyro 2) who sells you stuff and is actually useful, just became the game I thought I wanted but didn’t live up to expectations. And I never played the Spyro games where Elijah Wood voiced Spyro (The Legend of Spyro series (2006 -2008)) or Skylanders (2011 – present).
Overall, the original Spyro Trilogy is easily one of my favourite series of games and I’m glad (for once) for a HD remake. Let’s hope with E3 around the corner, we’ll see more footage of the other games and not just the first game.
There’s also a Pop Vinyl figure coming out on 31st August with will keep my occupied until the Reignited Trilogy.