An absolute king of platforming in the PlayStation Golden Era, you might think Insomniac’s Spyro the Dragon was a smash success upon release, but it really didn’t reach its full stride until the 1998 holiday season. After the world caught up with Spyro–selling 5 million copies and inducted into PlayStation’s Greatest Hits lineup, Insomniac went on to release Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (1999) and Spyro: Year of the Dragon (2000) which with the momentum of previous success, found themselves with great sales and positive reviews.
The first thing about these remasters that you notice is undoubtedly Unreal Engine’s touch on the updated graphics. The levels are exactly the same, but everything is somehow different in every little detail. The assets of the landscape are a great example of how the teams working on it took extra care–plenty of the same to look at, but nothing ever looks the same. Repeating tiles are cleverly strewn about, tricking the eye into thinking that every world was formed in its own natural right. Dark Hollow (in Spyro the Dragon) is lined with books and candles giving it a lush feel, pulling you into the night’s air. Everything is cartoony, yes, but Reignited has such a way with making it all feel immersive.
Watch the Spyro Reignited Trilogy launch trailer below:
The animations are also a gold star in every sense of the word. Spyro’s run feels organic now, and where PlayStation’s controls would lack a little, Reignited fills the gap with how liquidy smooth he now controls. The enemies are as quirky as ever as they bend over to show their bum off (Spyro the Dragon – Peace Keepers).
One of my favourite things about Spyro the Dragon is Stewart Copeland’s ability to really round out the feeling and whimsy of each level and world without ever feeling repetitive. When I rode the balloon into Magic Crafters, I was instantly transported back to sitting in front of my CRT TV, thumbing through my latest Disney Adventure’s magazine for little tips and tricks. Playing is enough to get the nostalgia going, but the soundtrack that Copeland orchestrated manifests the exact feeling of when I first played every one of those games. Every track has been updated, just a little, as not to lose any of the original, but really freshen it up.
The great thing about the Spyro Reingnited Trilogy is that it’s available for a new generation to experience. A great game for all ages, with a huge adult following (at the time of release, and now all grown up), Spyro seems to possess an ability to transcend any age group because it’s just plain fun. Controlling your sassy little purple dragon is easy as pie–even as you move on in the series and pick up a whole new set of moves to work with.
In Reignited’s take on Spyro the Dragon (1998), they’ve taken the time and care to really flesh out each and every one of the dragons you’re fighting to save. The individual personalities were always something I appreciated from the original–there was always a dragon to relate to.
Now, let’s say you’ve played Spyro before in every form, and not only have you played it, you breeze through it like a true dragon master. You’ve collected every collectible in every one of the games and did so without even breaking a sweat. This is where Reignited kicks it up a notch introducing an array of console achievements which give you so much more to do. Stuff like, torching all the vultures in a level, or beating a boss without taking a hit–an extra element of fun without being too outrageous to accomplish.
Reignited is a sterling example of how to make a remaster, however there are a few things, both actual problems and nitpicks that a frothing fan is bound to bring up–starting with the load times. I appreciate very much that there’s three titles in one for this anthology, but even Crash Bandicoot’s N. Sane Trilogy didn’t run into load times as hefty as Spyro puts out. They’re the kind of load times that make you check to see if your console hasn’t frozen in place–now, they do jazz it up a bit with the ability to keep yourself busy by controlling Spyro’s fluttering wings and even making him breathe fire while you idle, but it’s still one of those things that can get on your nerves, especially if you’re level hopping to pick up loose ends.
On the subject of load screens, we’ll head over to my nitpicks. I know remasters keep in the original, while moving forward to give you the best version of that original, but there seems to be a bank of sound bytes and little details missing that makes my kid self a little sad. The first one I noticed was on the load screens where, in the original the gems would explode, then gravitate back to be counted. Extra life clamshells retain their wonderfully excited sound upon breaking, but things such as the gem chests that you have to fire then chase the gem before it falls, is missing its lovely harp-like sound.
View some Spyro Reignited Trilogy screenshots in our gallery:
The textures of some of the characters seem to be a bit…wonky too. Elora is a good example of it looking a tad mushed up. Against the backdrop of lush level design and, having seen all the dragons from the first title, Elora’s textures–especially with her hair, seem to be bland and underdone. There’s also cuts in the character models, most notably belts that lay diagonal across chests that for a polished game with such a massive release, feel a bit out of place. These are all nitpicks of course, well, aside from the load times. None of these things really get in the way of enjoying the overall game and probably will only be spotted by a keen eye. It all seems trivial when you think of the sharp polygons that PlayStation One once fed us happily.
I believe that when Insomniac gave us Spyro the Dragon, they were giving us one of the best 3D platformers of all time. Never skipping on story and a wonderfully colourful cast of characters, evolving to having more in the games without feeling desperate in any way to gain the audience’s attention. The natural progression of the Spyro games is what really makes them all a treat to play, and I have no doubt that you will have a great time too.
Publisher: Activision Developer: Toys For Bob Release Date: November 13th, 2018 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PS4