Spyro: Reignited Trilogy (Playstation 4 Review)
Spyro first released back in 1998, 2 years after the successful debut of Sony’s lovable marsupial mascot, Crash Bandicoot. With Crash’s prominenance on the Playstation, my younger self was far too enchanted by his misadventures to give Spyro a passing glance. So much so that it missed him altogether. 20 years later and I’m about to glide in for the first time to find out what escaped me decades ago.
The main story revolves around freeing captured dragons turned to stone by the devious Gnasty Gnorc and his band of Gnorcs. Everything forthwith Spyro’s opening cutscene is presented as harmlessly as a saturday morning cartoon. The villains of Spyro, as well as the world of Avalar, are charming and non-threatening in appearance. It’s perfect for a younger audience. Environments throughout the entire trilogy remain as vibrant and endearing as a colouring book.
The only real difference between sequels is the change in the main objective, from saving dragons to collecting orbs. That’s not to say that I think Spyro is at fault for being uninventive in its design, in fact it’s the opposite. I praise Spyro for trying to remain as simple as possible. Collecting a gluttony of gems to fill the ever expanding gem counter, finding hidden keys to open bountiful chests, and easily taking down enemies with a single firebreath is as exhilarating as it is satisfying. That is until the sequels introduce players to several mechanics that expand Spyro’s repertoire of moves. Hovering, slam dunking, and head bashing all get in the way of Spyro’s simplicity. Chasing down fleeing enemies whilst being forced to utilise all these moves became infuriating; crab clawing the remote to try make it all work. I fell in love with how easy the first Spyro was to pick up and play, yet every successive entry started to push me away.
Obviously I’m being a little dramatic. Spyro is fantastic in nearly every other sense, so much so that I returned to 100% complete each game. Saving all the dragons and collecting all of the gems was a cake walk, but the really enticing embers of Spyro’s adventures were the bonus challenges. Completing bonus challenges earns you Skill Points that work within a Skill Point system. The Skill Points system is a checklist of extra objectives that unlock artwork by the developers as well as earning a life or two at the same time upon completion. These extra credits range from destroying hidden objectives to taking no damage during a boss fight. The same goes for Spyro’s trophies too, with each one asking the player to do something unique for each stage in Spyro’s journey all the while adding an extra layer of replayability and longevity to Spyro’s stages.
This added replay value is especially important as Spyro’s stages aren’t that grand in scope. Most stages could be described as being as small as my back garden — which isn’t that big. To keep things interesting there are usually little mini-games players can participate in to earn gems or a piece of the main objective. They usually follow a pattern of giving Spyro superemly enhanced abilities, either in flight, super speed or spitting fireballs, then having the player chase enemies or solve a puzzle. Breaking up things even more are the occasional Speedway levels and Boss stages. The former has players navigate Spyro in-between obstacles to destroy enemies in an allotted time to earn gems, while the other is self explanatory basic arcade style boss fight; damaging bosses intermittently while going through various phases. Never once did I ever feel underwhelmed by what Spyro had to offer, nor did I feel like It needed more. Spyro is the right balance of simplicity and pace, keeping the player moving through varied lush environments and scenarios with as few hindrances as possible.
While there are a few blemishes in Spyro’s pristine makeup, they aren’t game breakers. While running on a normal Playstation 4, Spyro does suffer some from a lack of consistent framerate. When levels start to get quite busy with clutter, performance starts to suffer. Loading times are a bit of an issue too. While they aren’t quite as offensive as the dip in framerate, they can often times be long winded and since levels are quick to complete you’ll be seeing alot of these. The excessive loading screens are exaggerated further in the sequels when players need to jump backwards and forwards through stages.
Spyro is the perfect game for a relaxing Saturday evening, it’s stress free and unobtrusive in its design. Spyro is designed for children with childish charm but can be loved by anyone. Its vibrant sheen and unmistakable charm makes it a remaster for the ages. While it does suffer on Sony’s pioneering platform, it’s still a must buy. Don’t make the same mistake I made 20 years ago.