Spyro is back! The purple dragon known for three critically-acclaimed platformer games in the late 90s is back with a modern upgrade thanks to Activision and Toys for Bob.
This collection called the “Spyro: Reignited Trilogy” was released on Nov. 13, 2018 and packages the first three games in the series “Spyro the Dragon,” “Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage” and “Spyro: Year of the Dragon.”
Similar to the “Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy” released last year, the three games have received a massive graphical update. It’s being powered by the Unreal Engine.
However, everything else has been kept the same. The gems, dragon eggs, chests and enemies are in the same spots they were nearly 20 years ago. The large, open levels still foster a sense of freedom and exploration.
The three games focus on Spyro, an undersized young dragon that gets thrust into an adventure, many times due to his small stature. Each game has a main collectible hidden throughout levels.
In the first game, he frees fellow dragons trapped in crystals by the evil Gnasty Gnorc. The second game takes Spyro to a new world where he must help citizens under siege by Ripto the Rynoc. Finally, the third game has the player recover baby dragon eggs stolen by the evil Sorcerous.
Each game takes place in a different setting, and more playable characters are introduced in “Year of the Dragon.” Spyro also gains new abilities in each installment, learning how to swim, climb and dive attack.
A point of controversy among gamers is the fact that only “Spyro the Dragon” can be accessed on the disk. It was discovered a month before the game’s release when the cover art stated that a digital download was mandatory.
The other two games must be downloaded and installed from the internet as a day one patch. This could have a negative effect on those who bought the game and have no internet, very slow internet or data limits from their provider.
Activision and Toys for Bob were criticized for not making it clear the downloads would be mandatory and only released a vague statement after the box art was leaked.
“Spyro the Dragon” was released in 1998 and was developed by Insomniac Games, a studio that would go on to make the “Rachet and Clank” and “Resistance” series.
Insomniac wanted to create a kid friendly character for the PlayStation, which at the time only had Crash Bandicoot as a mascot. Spyro’s level design is similar to “Super Mario 64” and “Banjo Kazooee,” two open level collect-a-thon games for the Nintendo 64.
Spyro’s primary ability is gliding, and this posed a challenge to the team early on. If players got to a high enough point, they could make Spyro glide all the way through the level and skip crucial parts of them.
To negate this, the team made every level open ended and hid collectibles in every possible nook and cranny to encourage exploration.
In order to make the game’s controls feel fluid, Insomniac brought in Matt Whiting, a NASA engineer who specialized in flight controls to help program the camera movement.
The series also makes use of a 3D panoramic engine developed by Alex Hastings that displays far away objects and makes them more detailed as the player gets closer to them. This was a new idea at the time, as most early 3D PlayStation games could show a limited field and needed fog to hide the rest of the draw distance.
Stewart Copeland, drummer for the band The Police, composed the music for the series. He took on a mostly prog-rock approach and played through early build levels of the game to get a feel for each one’s atmosphere. He wasn’t very good at the game and needed the help of cheat codes to progress through levels.
Copeland holds his work on the series in high regard, calling it some of the best compositional work he’s done across the span of his career. While he also helped compose a new score for the “Reignited Trilogy,” players have the option of using the original soundtrack.
The series was a massive critical and financial hit for Sony, and Spyro joined Crash as one of gaming’s biggest platforming mascots of the 90s and early 2000s. After “Year of the Dragon” was released, Insomniac gave up the rights to the game, citing a lack of ideas.
The series went to different publishers over the years, with the “Skylanders” series being Spyro’s most recent appearance.
Following the success of the “N-Sane Trilogy” fans clamored for Spyro to get a similar treatment. On April 5, 2018 the game was announced.
Old fans of the series, or those jumping in for the first time, can experience the innovative gameplay, creative level design and charming characters with a fresh new coat of paint.