Although the platforming mascot that was synonymous with the original PlayStation was the furry bandicoot known as Crash, he wasn’t alone to champion the genre on Sony’s first home console. Accompanying him was our little, scaly friend, Spyro the dragon. His older brother was the first to take a crack at bringing platforming to the 3rd dimension, however Spyro was the one to truly traverse in a 3D world just like Mario.
The three Spyro games on the original PlayStation are often looked back upon fondly by most, especially with a lot of Spyro’s most recent forays being far removed from his sought out past. There has been a lot of clamor for the purple hero to make a comeback, with it garnering even more steam ever since Crash Bandicoot was remade on current generation hardware. Luckily for fans they’re prayers have been answered. But even with all the nostalgia and hype at Spyro’s backing, can he make a tremendous comeback just as Crash did, or should he have been left in the past with all the other platformer mascots of yesteryear?
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Toys for Bob
Release Date: November 13, 2018
Review code provided by Activision.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is just as advertised. It’s the same three games you remembered from the original PlayStation days, but this time with brand spanking new graphics — thanks to Unreal Engine 4 — while adding in a few tweaks here and there. Visually, Spyro has never looked better. The jump from the original games’ graphics is staggering, obviously, with the screen oozing vibrant colors and lively animations that were never possible before. The transition effect is especially hard-hitting if doing a side-by-side comparison.
Character’s animate with more personality and fluidity, such as Spyro’s walking animation being more of a whimsical trot than a simple gallop. What’s more is the revamped character designs, especially for side characters, such as the crystallized dragons in the first game, Spyro The Dragon. Before the designs for a lot of the characters were limited due to the hardware at the time, but now each character has a specific look and tone that gives you an idea of their personality. It was fun rescuing each crystallized dragon just to see what kind of quirky character I’d run into. Although the designs have changed, the character dialogue remains just as it was back then, keeping it authentic.
Despite the new look and personality that Unreal Engine 4 is able to give the game, it isn’t without its flaws. For one, the character details, mainly for the supporting cast, can at times look a bit smudged and plastic-like. This makes the game feel a bit cheap at times, despite having the brand new coat of paint. It’s akin to watching a made-for-TV series of a popular animated movie; there’s a loss in production quality.
The way the game handles water is also to be desired. The second game – Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage – added water exploration. However, with the new engine, transitioning between land and water can be quite jarring visually. Whenever you’re looking at potential bodies of water to explore, there’s a blue tint on the surface that isn’t quite as transparent as one would hope. This can be confusing at times, when looking to see if you can actually dive in or not. Not only that, but once submerged, the colors become desaturated, with everything having too much of a blue hue and making things hard to see. This is a certain aspect, I feel, that the old game handled better, despite using an older engine.
Another mishap is the frame rate. The game itself runs at 30fps, but whenever moving the camera around or if there’s a lot going on around you, there are slight stutters. It’s nothing too annoying, but you are sure to notice whenever it happens.
What you may notice as well, especially for diehard fans of the original, is the sound mixing done on the game’s soundtrack. There are two versions available for the game’s music: the Reignited version, which adds more dynamic range to the music and fleshes it out more with a few more accompanying tones and notes, while the other is just the original music. The problem though lies with the original soundtrack option. Comparing it to the music from the original PlayStation version, you notice that a lot of the instruments and melodies seemed to be drowned out and not hitting as hard. On the original PlayStation version, guitar strums and percussion segments are brought out more and given emphasis, since, at the time, sounds like that were a novelty and first for games. However for the Reignited Trilogy, that same feel of novelty and emphasis is lost in the original music option.
There also isn’t a menu or playlist where you can sit back and just listen to all three games’ music. As a collection that exists to reignite and celebrate the Spyro franchise, it comes as a wasted opportunity to truly celebrate it by lacking a complete library of music from each world. Despite this, however, there is an art gallery for each game to be unlocked, but that’s it in terms of ways to delve deeper into the games’ history. With game’s like the Megaman Anniversary Collection showing us how you’re supposed to celebrate a franchise, it’s a shame Spyro Reignited Trilogy couldn’t deliver similarly.
As for gameplay, not much has changed, except for the ability to use the right analog stick for your camera. There is a classic option, where you use the triggers to move the camera left or right, but I’m sure people will just default to using the analog stick. Otherwise, it’s the same old Spyro you know and love. All three games are simple, fun 3D platformers where you just need to find and collect a bunch of things. A standard for your 90’s 3D platformer. With all three games being packed together, however, you do notice the progression, or lack thereof rather, between each title.
With Spyro The Dragon, it’s your simple platformer where you just need to worry about collecting things and follow a linear progression from world to world. Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage adds abilities to Spyro’s repertoire to spice things up, where certain areas need certain abilities, so you’ll have to backtrack to get things you missed the first time around. And finally, Spyro: Year of the Dragon is a culmination of the two, bringing back similar collectibles from the first game and adding new gameplay mechanics, such as different playable characters and challenges to spice things up.
All in all, there isn’t much too different between them and thus shows the trilogies biggest gameplay weakness. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you’re just playing the same game, but with different levels. This can lead to a bit of a burnout if you plan on playing through all the games back to back, especially given the game’s low difficulty level. The only addition to the Reignited Trilogy that gives you a bit more to do are the bonus objectives that unlock an art gallery for each game. All three games are still fun to revisit and play, but there isn’t much ground to hold gameplay-wise, besides nostalgia and the collectathon.
All in all, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a nice package to experience all three games with current generation visuals. All three games are simple, yet fun, platformers that anybody can play and this is a better time than any to revisit them. The package itself does have its problems and lacks a few features that would have taken it to greater heights, but if all your looking for is to step back into your childhood and keep on the rose-tinted glasses, then you’re in the right place.