Developers: Insomniac Games
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Plot: A tyrannical ruler, Gnasty Gnorc, discovers a weapon that allows him to turn dragons to ice. One dragon survives the attack, their youngest, Spyro.
Spyro the Dragon has always gone down as one of the greatest platformers out there, one of the few Playstation Games that could stand up against the might of Nintendo.
Right from the off, Spyro strikes us as a hit for the kids. The character is that right mix of rebellious, yet still likeable as a hero. The entire story is about the young dragon showing up all of the adult dragons and saving the day. In fact, as you save most of the dragons, you realise that a good amount of them are hardly the fearless dragons that were so pesky in Skyrim. But it’s not just the story: the colour palette here throws you right into the adventure. Spyro is a bright purple and the surrounding world is just as vibrant. Every new map is a blast of colour and light. Even coming back to Spyro the Dragon, from a world of terrific graphics that can bring us god damn Kevin Spacey in our Call of Duty games, we are still amazed at the aesthetics. From an old-timey perspective, the bright landscapes, coupled with interesting foes and obstacles, make for a very immersive universe. As a child, and admittedly to this day, I love coming across the next section of the game and just wandering around, taking in every detail surrounding me.
The layout of the game is instantly comfortable. There are six big maps, each hiding smaller levels. The objective of the game is to free as many dragons as possible from the available areas, in order to progress to the next level. Along the way, there are interesting bosses to fight and small gliding side-quests. I love the familiarity of each of the six maps. At first, they are quite large and intimidating, but it is quite satisfying to spend enough time in the area, that you know every in and out of the world. The game becomes comfortable and it is quite nice when you hit the realisation that this world is essentially your playground. Of course, this sensation gets harder to accomplish the further along you get. In the first map, enemies won’t even put up a fight, choosing to flee from your horns and flames. However, already by the second level, they come equipped with guns and by the time, you have got to the final map of the game, they will be prepared to put up a decent fight before going down. Taking control of the map becomes a little harder each time.
But then again, not hard enough. The readers of this blog that have been with me from the start will know that I don’t think time has shone well on this game. I picked it up a year ago and it was the easiest piece of gaming I think I have come to grips with. Sure, it is meant to be for kids, but how come Crash Bandicoot and Mario still give you a good run of your money? The final boss is laughably bad to the point where you almost feel sorry for him, when you set him alight. The entire game will probably take you just under a day to complete when played straight. It feels very routine and you realise how behind the times it truly is. For example, there is a very easy flaw to see, where the camera will rotate mid-action, so you cannot see what is directly in front of you. This little glitch in gameplay will probably end with you losing precious health. It seems a very obvious flaw that should have been ironed out after the first draft.
Final Verdict: Charming, but if you want to try your hand at Spyro, maybe jump to the sequel. This one doesn’t quite hit the spot.