Spyro is the latest character to have been swept up in the wave of nostalgia that has been consistently passing through popular culture since the early 2000s. First it was the cartoons and comics of the 80s, stuff like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers, but for a little while now the focus has been on the 90s. Last year Crash Bandicoot got the remake treatment through the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, and this year Spyro is up with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a remake of the classic 90s platformer series originally created by Insomniac Games and now re-produced by Toys for Bob. Toys for Bob’s most famous work is probably the Skylanders series, which started out as a toys-to-life spin-off of the Spyro series but sort of ended up becoming its own unique thing. Well, Toys for Bob are back at it again to see if they can produce a fitting reproduction of a PS1 classic.
Luckily, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is one of the most faithful remakes of a game series that there has ever been. There has been little to no messing around with core features or gameplay, and everything within feels as familiar as if we only stopped playing it last week. Much like the N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro is split into the original three games that made the character so famous back in the PS1 days.
The main point of the game(s) is to run around collecting different objects and defeating enemies. Each game has a different object or a few different objects for you to collect that usually tie together in some way or another. The first game features dragons captured in crystal, the second featured talismans and orbs and the final one features baby dragon eggs. Other than that, the beats remain pretty consistent throughout. You blast fire or charge your horns at enemies and platform around levels hoovering up gems with the help of a glowing dragonfly.
The first game, Spyro the Dragon, is probably the weakest if you try to examine them all from an objective standpoint. It doesn’t feature any of Spyro’s more advanced abilities at all, such as the swimming, climbing and head bashing, and on top of that, the levels are all designed in a pretty basic way. That doesn’t mean that it’s not still fun, it just means that of all the games on the disc, the first one is probably the one that people will plough through the quickest.
Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer (no, I will not call it Ripto’s Rage!), is a lot of people’s favourite game in the series. This time you’re collecting talismans that will be used to defeat the evil Ripto, and on the way you’ll be collecting orbs that…do stuff? Okay, so it’s not 100% clear what it is that the orbs actually do, but they’re collectable, which means that you need them. The second game has a lot more to offer than the first. The levels are more complex and interesting, the story and world feel more inhabited and large, and you have new powers that are used to give Spyro some progression. Of course, these powers are also slightly annoying at times. If you plan to go through each game completing them 100% before moving on, then you might get a little stuck on Spyro 2. Since there are powers to be unlocked, you sometimes find yourself having to leave a level half finished and returning there later on once you’ve got the needed power. Not that it’s all that bad, but it is annoying that the characters in the levels speak to you like you’ve never been there before.
Another new feature for Spyro 2 was the shift away from pure collecting gameplay towards a more mission-based style. Now, instead of just collecting all of the items in every level and then fighting a boss, you also have to perform different missions or tasks that are rewarded with a collectible. These new tasks are a big boon to the game’s variety and help to throw some spice into the same boring grind that some people grew tired of with the first Spyro game.
The final game, Spyro: Year of the Dragon, is in many ways the finest of the series. It had managed to buckle down all of the design elements that made the games great, and you didn’t have to wait through the entire game to unlock all of the powers, so mostly you could just complete it as you went, and on top of that, some of Spyro’s friends were featured, which allowed for some more interesting gameplay types. The tasks from the second game made a comeback, again providing some decent variety of gameplay, and a general high level of polish makes this the star of the series.
As a package, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a fantastic remake. Visually, it has taken the general gist of the world and represented it in an amazing way. The old angular polygons of the 90s have been swept away with the smooth graphics we have come to expect from a modern video game. Most of the characters have been improved on, going from things you could barely recognise as characters to defined, cartoonish beings with a lot of personality. There are a couple that might be less than appealing than their original counterparts, but they’re in the minority. Of all the graphical changes, there is only one that really can be jarring. For some reason they removed the guns from certain late-game enemies in the first Spyro title and replaced them with purple goo. Probably for some sort of age rating reason, but it still seems silly that it was done at all.
Spyro Reignited doesn’t just do well in a visual way but also manages to do justice to the controls, keeping them faithful enough but updating them to modern standards. Unlike the physics fiasco of the N. Sane trilogy, this game may have gotten easier instead of harder. There are at least two particularly difficult jumps in the first Spyro game alone, and they’re both much easier in Spyro Reignited Trilogy. In general, a lot of the jumps feel easier to make, and having a modern, well-built controller in hand is probably a big reason for that.
There are some parts of Spyro Reignited Trilogy that haven’t necessarily aged well or that grind gears in some other way. The flight and speedway levels are still frustrating tasks at the best of times, even with the newer controls and visuals to add some spice. There are also just a couple of mini-games that stick in the craw. Yeti Boxing, in particular, is still as much of a pain in the butt as it was back when the third Spyro game first came out. Overall though, these are issues that come from the original games, so them being perfectly recreated here at least shows how faithful Toys for Bob were.
When all is said and done, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is an excellent remake of an excellent PS1 series. It stays faithful where it counts and delivers necessary updates where they’re needed. Any flaws that the game has seem to have been directly transplanted from the original games, and since it’s supposed to be a faithful remake, no one should have expected any differently.
Developer: Toys For Bob
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 13th November 2018