Played on Windows.
Also Available on Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Spyro was one of the unofficial mascots of the Sony Playstation, along with Crash and a few other potential choices. Made by Insomniac Games, it was one of the iconic series that people think about when they think about the original Playstation platform, and with that memory, it’s no surprise gamers often think of it as one of the best games for the system. Twenty years have passed but the original three Spyro games have returned in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy made by Toys for Bob. But how well can a twenty-year-old game perform in the modern era?
First off I have to say it’s amazing to play Spyro on Steam. The fact that what was once an exclusive game is now available on all major platforms is superb, and much like Crash Bandicoot, that simple fact is enough to applaud, but this hardly scratches the surface. Still being able to play this game on your system of choice is a huge step and it’s a step I’m always glad to see.
To review Spyro is a little complicated as there are three games here, I’ve decided to talk about the graphics of the entire package and then talk about each game.
The reason for this order is the same graphics engine is used for all three games, so it’s worth talking about it only once. That graphics engine though is impressive.
As I played Spyro Reignited Trilogy, I had my nostalgia glasses on and was amazed at how amazing Spyro looked, and while there is a new coat of paint on this game, I had to look back and check out the original titles for the Playstation.
The level of detail on these games are incredible.
That was a mistake because the original Playstation graphics were some of the original polygon graphics at the time, and while Mario might still look good for the time, Spyro was in no way developed to be as smooth and polished as other titles. There are several jagged objects in almost every scene. The original Spyro looks good for the PlayStation era, but he would never work in the modern era, and graphically the old graphics look hideous at times.
What’s amazing to me is unlike the look of Crash Bandicoot remake that felt stuck in the 90s, Spyro looks amazing, and could rival many modern games. Toys for Bob kept the original style of Spyro the Dragon but updated it to work in 2019. If I didn’t know about the original titles, I could see this as a new franchise in the same realm as Yooka Layle, or A Hat in Time but even those don’t come close to the quality of the graphics and design here, which only enhances the experience.
The original Spyro levels can look a bit plain, but the levels also were good for the time period of the original game but would feel out of place today with a series of graphic issues that needed to be cleaned up. Instead of trying to adapt those levels, Spyro Reignited Trilogy seems to have redesigned everything. Again, nothing here looks like it’s a 20-year-old artifact, but rather a well done modern game. The fact we have great graphics for every piece of all three games is incredible, including all-new cutscenes, animations, voice acting, characters, and more is incredible, and the original three Spyro games have never looked this polished.
The graphics do deserve a ton of praise because it’s clear they were carefully developed and show sharp attention to detail that this series deserves especially when showcasing the amazing franchise that is so beloved by fans.
With that, let’s talk about each game individually, which means we should start with…
Spyro the Dragon
The major title that launched this franchise to stardom. Most franchise’s first titles have trouble finding the proper footing to get the momentum going, though for Spyro this isn’t the case. Spyro the Dragon is an amazing game. It has an excellent style of design, art, and gameplay that made it a major contender on the original Playstation.
Every dragon in Spyro The Dragon has their own
There’s a lot to love about Spyro. The controls are the biggest reason I’m a fan of the game. Everything in Spyro the Dragon feels good. There are a few things that Spyro does extremely well though, and the biggest one is just how the game feels while Spyro is running around a level. In some games backtracking becomes a chore, and while it’s not Spyro at it’s best, Spyro racing through a level and jumping from location to location feels extremely good, and it’s one of the strongest parts of the entire franchise.
Spyro has almost full control while he’s running and yet he still is driven on by the momentum of the movement, so jumps and turns will be changed by the motion. This is only improved by the level design itself. Levels in all three games are designed for the player to traverse the great distances of it quickly. The first time through a level, players will find a large number of enemies, but when backtracking or searching through the level for a specific path or collectible still brings the same level of joy to the player as they hunt for the right area.
The controls also work well when jumping to platforms or attacking enemies. While Crash Bandicoot and Lara Croft released a couple of years earlier than the original Spyro The Dragon game, neither game figured out how to platform, instead, it feels like Spyro took a page out of Mario 64 for the controls and feel of the game.
The story of Spyro the Dragon is a weaker part of this franchise. Spyro is the only dragon who isn’t frozen by “Gnasty Gnorc” our villain for this game and is tasked with freeing the dragons, collecting the gems for the dragon’s fortune, and exploring the lands of Avalar.
The story isn’t very strong, but it sets up the world and character. Spyro has a lot of personality and you can almost feel the childlike enthusiasm from his character. Similarly, it’s a lot of fun to run to each dragon and meet them when you save them.
Yeah there’s some human on dragon kisses, but it’s to power up Spyro with flame breath… yeah, that’s how it works.
The gameplay of Spyro is best described as a collect-a-thon. Each level is filled with enemies, gems, and other collectibles for Spyro to collect. There are several Dragons on each level and they will have to be collected. There’s a guide book (originally from the second game) that allows the player to track their progress and a completion percentage for each level and the entire game. The collection of all the items and gems are not very hard, but there’s a lot to find on most levels and requires a player to explore the entire level.
The main game is more focused on reaching certain benchmarks and completing the main objective of each of the worlds. In the first game, the exit of most levels is triggered by reaching the “end” of a level and freeing a specific dragon. The one thing to know though is while that opens the exit portal, there’s usually far more to find in the level and that’s part of the fun of this game.
There are also flight levels in Spyro, and this is common to all three games, but these are the problem for Spyro the Dragon. I am not a fan of these levels. While they are enjoyable levels, I find them to be quite frustrating, especially when the goal is to complete four different sets of targets in one run. Some of these levels are easy, but each game finds brutally hard flight levels and it’s the one piece of Spyro that still frustrates me.
While there are a series of bosses in Spyro the Dragon, they each come as part of a larger level, and except for two bosses in the game, I didn’t even realize I was fighting a boss, it just seemed like a stronger enemy, and that felt more out of place. Luckily the sequels didn’t have that problem, but we’re not there.. yet.
I have to confess, Spyro the Dragon is my favorite game of the three-pack, and while it’s a tight group of games, Spyro the Dragon is also the one that stands out the most on its own. But there are still two more games to discuss…
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage
Spyro 2 is the sequel to the original game, Spyro the Dragon. It’s an impressive game made even more impressive by the fact there was only about a year of development on the Spyro 2.
Here’s our heroes. Hunter, Spyro and Elora
Rather than revisiting the original game or story, Spyro 2 starts with Spyro going on a vacation to the beach through a portal. The trip fails when a group summons Spyro to a foreign land that is in desperate need of a dragon. It turns out this land is being terrorized by “Ripto” and his henchmen and only Spyro can save the day.
This time around the villain, Ripto, gets developed a lot more than the first game, and there are several cutscenes involving him, as well as Spyro’s new friends, Hunter, and Elora. There’s also a whole new story, and a new set of levels, involving Spyro going to various lands and complete objectives to earn collectibles necessary to open gates. There’s more variety in the levels and gameplay.
Spyro 2 has many improvements. In the original game, Spyro will get injured when he touches any water. In Spyro 2, normal water is fine for Spyro and the swimming controls are solid. There’s a hover that can extend jumps that almost miss a platform as well. And then there’s Mr. Moneybags.
Mr. Moneybags appears in Spyro 2 for the first time and offers to assist Spyro for a price. Most of these purchases are reasonably priced, but he’ll request the money for mundane tasks such as opening a door or allowing Spyro to use a bridge. He doesn’t appear very often, but this is just a progression check hidden by the character. This does works for the game, especially when he teaches you a new move like diving underwater or climbing a ladder, it’s a pleasure to do business with him.
While those are important improvements there are two things Spyro 2 does that become issues. The first is that the boss encounters in Spyro 2 become quite difficult at times, and it doesn’t appear to give players checkpoints in the middle of a boss fight, so unless players become quite proficient at the exact moves of a boss, they will have to restart, and at least one of the bosses here gave me a lot of trouble.
A great new character is Mr. MoneyBags, who demands money to help out our hero.
The second issue is that while the game has a variety of different lands with different stories that range from Hansel and Gretel needing assistance, to a farm that needs Spyro to fight back Robots who have risen up against the farmers, the levels feel disconnected. These levels are just there to give players different tasks, but where the first game had a focus on saving dragons, this time around there seems to be random events at almost every level.
Then again, levels also have additions quests for more collectibles after finishing the level. These giving more benefits to players who choose to search each level. For instance, a monastery level that had a Yeti guarding the exit also had an ice rink with a special version of ice hockey. There’s a lot of different tasks on each level and it was a blast to uncover each one and earn each orb.
Overall Spyro 2 is a solid step up. It added a lot more story to the game and produced a more interesting tale, and while the control is as good as the first game, the minor changes to the control added depth to the game. Which brings us to…
Spyro: The Year of the Dragon
Spyro 3, as I’ll call it, was the end of the initial trilogy, and thus the last game for Insomniac Games, and the end of the Reignited Trilogy. It also was the last game of the contract for Insomniac games, and it feels a bit like that. Once again Insomniac only had a year to make the game and it seems like they took every idea that didn’t work in Spyro 2 and push it into Spyro: Year of the Dragon.
Our villain appears multiple times to taunt Spyro in interesting cutscenes.
For many teams that would be a bad move, but somehow Year of the Dragon has the most variety and it makes for another interesting game.
The story again moves away from Spyro 2, though the game retains Elora and Hunter. This time Spyro has to chase after a thief who has stolen the baby dragon. The thief is a sorceress named Bianca and the adventure takes place in brand new lands. Hunter returns to assist Spyro but there are all new characters, and Spyro is forced to assist 5 characters with one each level before he can proceed.
The story here has even more cutscene then Spyro 2 and it gives our characters far more depth, though I feel like parts of the story just take something away from the game. Yet, I felt more attached to the characters in Spyro 3 than either of the previous two games.
Spyro 3 has 37 worlds which makes it the largest of the three Spyro games. There are many new playable characters here, such as a kangaroo, a penguin with a rocket launcher, a yeti, and a monkey with a gun. Each character must be freed by paying a ransom to Moneybags, who has returned, and then the character has to beat a personal world, before being able to be used in other worlds.
Sadly, these characters aren’t able to be switched to in the main area. Only a single partner appears in a single main level of a world, but most are forced to explore their exclusive area in the world, with gems, mini-games, and even new gameplay, such as a shooting gallery level for our gun-toting monkey. I would have loved to have a unique partner in the main levels but sadly this wasn’t available except in one instance.
The fact that all the villains are the same race helps bring the game together into a singular experience.
At the same time, there are many different types of gameplay, with the strangest addition coming from “skateboarding”. With Spyro 3 coming a year after Tony Hawk Pro Skater, it’s a strange addition to the series, but hardly the only surprise in Spyro 3.
There is also a larger variety of levels in Spyro 3. But Spyro 3 focuses on the same race of enemies, the Rhynocs, and due to that, the game has a better cohesion than Spyro 2 and feels more focused, even while one or two levels feel out of place. Similarly, the boss battles in Spyro 3 feel a touch easier, and overall are my favorite bosses in the series.
While the main collectible is just Dragon eggs, you can earn the dragon eggs, from completing a level, exploring or completing side tasks, and again this rewards the player for exploring exactly as the previous two games have.
Spyro 3 is another excellent game. It changes enough to feel different but similar enough that fans of the first two games will be at home here. and it perfectly rounds out the Reignited trilogy.
The Spyro games aren’t perfect. Each Spyro game lacks a small feature to stand out as flawless. The first game’s flying levels can become overly frustrating, all three games have this problem with flying levels. Spyro 2’s boss fights can be annoyingly hard, and Spyro 3 has strange tangents that are interesting but don’t work as well as they could.
But what works here is that three Spyro games are part of a great lineage. If you enjoy Spyro 1, you’ll enjoy 2, and enjoy 3, and they can be played back to back without a feeling of repetition, each game adds something new and essential to improve the series.
The one thing that the trilogy has though, is fun. I had a blast playing through Spyro Reignited and even a few struggles or flaws didn’t hurt the experience. Spyro Reignited is excellent an Insomniac deserves recognition for the original series. However, I feel required to call out Toys for Bob who polished the game to the point of reaching far higher quality.
Spyro Reignited could have been a great throwback for fans, but instead, I think it’s an amazing game for both fans who grew up with Spyro, and fans just discovering him for the first time. It has a lot of charm, great graphics, and amazing game design, from both teams. And it’s worth mentioning, that it’s only 30 dollars for three incredible games.
Ultimately, I feel that Spyro Reignited Trilogy deserves a
Final Thoughts: A perfect remaster, that takes a great classic game, improves the graphics, and restores the game to its rightful place. This is an incredible value, and a classic franchise ready for another ride.
Stats: 40 hours, 64/105 achievements (all achievements are in the base game)