It’s finally time people, the time most of us have been patiently waiting for. The little purple dragon with attitude is back in all his updated and remastered glory. I will admit I only played the game briefly around a friend’s house originally but even I can see the progress that has been made with this, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
The collection contains all 3 Spyro games from the PlayStation released between the years 1998 and 2000, originally developed by Insomniac and the remasters developed by Toys for Bob. The games remain, from a gameplay perspective, untouched and they have only had a fresh coat of paint and had the controls tightened up a touch. The game is absolutely stunning, outputting at 1080p on the standard PS4 and 1440p on the PS4Pro, both running at a capped 30FPS. Seeing it in action though is a sight to behold, smooth as butter, bright and vibrant. This is the perfect type of game for me to review at the minute, for a person who grew up playing a lot of 3D platformers and games of this ilk. I grew up on Mario, Sly Cooper and other games of that type. I love collecting things in 3D spaces, crossing off virtual checklists and seeing that counter of collectables increase of the course of my play session. My review will mainly cover the first game but I will play a little of the other two to get a feel of them and make sure the review is fair and covers the whole package.
We all know how it starts but I will give you a quick reminder anyway. The first game starts with Gnasty Gnorc, the villain of the game, watching a live feed from home of the dragons he hates. They taunt him live on air and he proceeds to turn them all to crystal, apart from our hero of the tale, Spyro. The various lands of the game then get overrun with Gnasty’s minions and he steals the treasure that the dragons have been hoarding. Spyro manages to escape with his dragonfly sidekick which starts you on a quest to rescue all the dragons, find all the treasure and hopefully defeat Gnasty Gnorc, saving the day. The second game has Spyro on vacation to probably recover from all the first games shenanigans, which does not end up being much of a holiday and the third has him going up against an evil sorceress, recovering eggs that have been stolen. All in all, you’re not really playing these games for their story, even though it is amusing and well written.
Gameplay wise the first Spyro game is a standard 3D game affair, any person who has played any 3D platformer before will feel at home. Running, jumping, floating and burning come with ease as you run around the many varied environments. Your goal in each stage is a list of items that require collecting, normally treasure, crystalized dragons and eggs. As I stated earlier, running around these brightly coloured areas collecting treasure and rescuing dragons is great fun, very addictive and a joy to do. Even the parts that you think will be tedious, those last few collectables your struggling to find are made easy due to your dragonfly sidekick, ‘Sparx’ helping out when you click L3. This is great for people like me who find it hard to leave a level until you have found everything and have received that ‘100% complete’ prompt. Adding to your ever-growing list of ‘to do’s’ in the game are ‘skillpoints’ which are small tasks to be completed in various stages of the game which are varied and a nice touch, providing a small distraction to all the hunting for treasure. The sequels to the first game improve on this somewhat and include more story and add several gameplay elements to break up the collecting, they are also less linear with more to do. They add additional playable characters, more challenges, quests and more abilities to tinker with.
The worlds of the first game are split into a central hub with small self-contained levels branching off them, these are full of collectables, enemies, bosses and platforming challenges. All of the worlds and levels are beautiful and varied. There are snow levels, deserts, cities, mountains and everything between, all well designed and gorgeous to look at. My favourite levels within these worlds are the flying ones, you are presented with a time limit and are challenged with completing a list of tasks within that time limit. Each task has a number of required items to get or destroy and each one rewards you with additional time flying around the stage. You get a bit of treasure for each task completed and some treasure for completing them all in one run, the level ends if you run out of time or dies in any way. This is why I like these levels while completing these assigned tasks you have to work out the ideal route so you can complete them all in one run. The difficulty is perfect, not too easy but not overly difficult and with a bit of practice, perfectly achievable by anyone who is willing to attempt it a few times.
The hub for each world has collectables to find and doorways that lead to each of its corresponding levels, sometimes hidden, sometimes requiring tasks to be completed to access them. Once you have collected enough of the required collectables for that world you can move on and start again. It’s all very simple but it works, it’s worked for many years and is gaming at a very ‘pure’ level. There are no upgrade trees, no story choices and no branching quest lines to follow. Here’s a list of things to collect, now go and work out how to get them. It’s a breath of fresh air among all the current games out there, no DLC, no microtransactions, no season pass, no adverts, just run, burn, collect and smile.
You can find treasure all over the place and over the course of these levels it comes from many sources, they are strewn all over the levels guiding you through to the finish and also sometimes branching you off to the side and hidden areas. The placement of treasure encourages exploration, some treasure will be on the edge of platforms or behind buildings and help lead your eyes to see what lies beyond and help you towards the level’s secrets. Sometimes enemies hold the treasure that you have to relieve them of when you can, different enemies require dispatching in different ways making sure things are varied and constantly making you think about what you’re doing. You can’t just run and set fire to all the enemies, some are immune, some require charging at and some require a bit of planning and timing to defeat correctly. The foes you face are varied, fun and can sometimes be a bit tricky. Being bombarded with boars, wizards and enemies of all guises never gets old and stays fun throughout the games.
The character models are amazing, Spyro and his friends are animated brilliantly. All the dragons you rescue are varied and are beautiful to look at. All the enemies are modelled to the same high standard, beautifully crisp and rendered brilliantly. I am playing on a PS4 Pro and have taken so many screenshots it’s unreal. The worlds you explore are a feast to the eyes, constantly filling the screen with colourful wonder and always give you a feeling of wanting to explore. Graphically this game is up there with some of the best in this genre I have played. Simply stunning.
What also helps with this package is the music and sound design, the soundtrack is lovely and fits the game perfectly. It’s perky and bright and bubbles along in each level, I often found myself bobbing along with it as I was exploring many of its magical worlds. The voice acting is also very good, each dragon and each character is voiced very well and more importantly believable. Spyro is also voiced very well, he is fun, quirky and a little bit naughty.
With all games like this performance is very important, there is nothing worse than lining up a big platforming feat to be interrupted by stutter or frame drops. I am happy to report that this game performs flawlessly. I was running around these bright, vivid worlds with no hiccups at all. It’s only 30fps, but it’s locked and feels very smooth.
I stated earlier that I love this kind of game, it’s a shame that they have been slightly forgotten under all the open world, bombastic triple ‘A’ blockbusters in recent years. There is something great about simple gameplay, great music and beautiful graphics all executed to a very high standard. It takes me back to when I was a lad and gaming was just fun, I spent most of the time with this title smiling and remembering why I started to play games in the first place. It’s a brilliant package with a lot of game for a very decent price. Anyone who loves this type of game should put down whatever you’re holding and go and buy it now.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*