Last year, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy created a nifty retro resurgence that had other developers thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we brought so-and-so back for a new generation to enjoy?” And honestly, we’re fine with that way of thinking. But for the longest time, we asked ourselves, “When will it be Spyro the Dragon’s turn?” After all, that hero sparked just as much interest in the PlayStation era as Crash did, so doesn’t he deserve some love?
Activision has finally admitted as such, announcing Spyro Reignited Trilogy after months of “will they, won’t they?” rumors. And now we have the end result, put together by Toys For Bob, the developer that previously brought Spyro back from the dead with its toys-to-life Skylanders franchise. But unlike that series, which was based more around novelty, Reignited feels more like a labor of love -- and we can’t think of one person who would be unhappy with its results.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a tremendous value on the surface, going for $39.99 and featuring the first three classic games from the series, produced by Insomniac Games. Spyro the Dragon is easily approachable, and gives you a fine introduction to the character. Things get a little trickier with Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage, bringing a new villain into the fold and debuting bigger levels. And by the time Spyro: Year of the Dragon rolls around, the series comes full circle, with a tour-de-force that delivers even more gameplay and opportunities -- even skateboarding. (Someone’s been watching the old Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater replays.)
Now, we could’ve easily just gotten an HD port of Insomniac’s old work and appreciated it, but Toys For Bob went the extra mile here. They practically built all three games from the ground up, with reworked levels, finely tuned gameplay and even re-recorded voicing across the board, creating games that look like freshly created platformers, rather than something you’d expect from the PlayStation era. That said, there’s still a great deal of familiarity here, bringing Spyro to life like we’ve never seen him before.
First off, the gameplay is surprisingly sharp. Toys For Bob has captured the exact nuance that made the character work so well in the original Insomniac games, from his ability to glide and hover to reach great distances to his running headbutt (perfect for ramming shielded foes) to his trademark fire breath, which, yes, will scorch a sheep in its tracks. The games are a bit easier than I remember, but perhaps that works as a balance compared to how tough the Crash games were in N. Sane Trilogy. Besides, it makes the game easily adaptable for younger and rookie players, while experienced ones can change after that 100 percent completion.
What’s more, little things make all the difference. For instance, Spyro’s dragonfly buddy serves a great purpose here, picking up gems and capturing bugs to keep its strength up. Its animation in its own right is superb, and it seems to play more of a factor here than in the original games. It’s been a while, but that’s how it comes across.
And even the boss battles are impressive, showing a good amount of depth and creativity that didn’t quite come across 100 percent in the PlayStation versions. Granted, gaming was simpler back then, and design with it. But Toys For Bob really went over everything with a fine-tooth comb. That makes Reignited feel special in its own right -- nothing really feels out of place.
But what’s just as impressive, if not more so, is the presentation. The visuals in Spyro Reignited Trilogy pop to life like they just came out of a cartoon. The animations are spellbinding, particularly with Spyro’s little movements flying into each world; the level design is spectacular, with secrets appearing just out of reach, but never looking like they’re impossible to acquire (just look around); and the enemies and side characters offer some life of their own, whether it’s with taunting animations or simply standing around, waiting to greet Spyro as he passes.
The color usage in Reignited deserves a special nod as well. Everything from frozen tundras to lava-spewing areas shine with detail; and the lighting is tremendous, effectively coming off each character without missing a beat. And again, the small things -- we’ll mention the dragonfly again -- really impress.
Also worth noting is how smoothly cinematic sequences blend in with the gameplay. It almost feels like you’re watching a truly interactive experience, instead of going, “Okay, here’s the movie, now back to the game.” It all blends together.
That said, there are some slight issues with camera. You can change things up to dynamic if you prefer something that follows your movement; but, honestly, you’re better off with classic, though you might need to adjust a thing or two to keep an enemy in view or survey where your next objective might be. It doesn’t hurt the game nearly enough to become a problem, though. Loading times can be a bit lengthy, but they aren’t too shabby either.
As for sound, Stewart Copeland’s classic soundtrack for each game is included, though there’s also a remixed option available that’s just as pleasant to listen to. The variety in the tunage is surprisingly good, depending on which level you’re running through. That said, it would’ve been nice to have an option to switch between the two on-the-fly, instead of having to pause to the menu and do it there.
The voice acting is superb, with Tom Kenny voicing the character again and several favorites returning to add life to their classic side characters. It’s fun to listen to these guys, even if the jokes aren’t as plentiful as we prefer. (Sometimes it just helps to keep a good, simple tone though.) And the sound effects are good, right down to Spyro’s “scorch breath” effect.
The game will provide you with hours of replayability, as you go through all the levels, finding all the dragons and eggs, collecting all the gems, unlocking secrets and trying out different gameplay experiences, like skateboarding. And there are quite a few Achievements and Trophies to unlock as well, so you can stack up on those as well.
Aside from very mild loading and camera issues, I can’t find much to complain about with Spyro Reignited Trilogy at all. The game offers a whopping amount of content for $40, not to mention delivering on all kinds of nostalgia. Toys For Bob covers every base here in the best way possible, with consideration for spectacular visuals and sound, as well as the gameplay being just the way you remember it being. It’s really a fun experience no matter what your age or level of play may be, and it adds a solid delivery of a second punch to Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. In fact, you can buy both of those games as a combo, in case you don’t have them yet.
It’s good to see Spyro back in action and being loved by a newfound audience, along with his old fans. Now let’s see if Activision continues on this roll with another resurrected favorite. Hey, guys, Blur isn’t going to come back by itself...0comments
WWG’s Score: 4.5 out of 5.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.