After the incredible sales success of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remastered collection of the PS1-era Spyro the Dragon games was inevitable. And just as many fans predicted, Activision pulled the curtain back on Spyro: Reignited Trilogy earlier this year, revealing a refreshed look for the fan-favorite purple platforming icon. Following a controversy about the contents of the game’s physical release and a last-minute delay, some fans may have been worried that the game wouldn’t do justice to the original trilogy’s legacy, but Spyro’s adventures are just as good as they were two decades ago.
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy features virtually identical gameplay to the original games. Level layouts are the same and gems will be right where players remember them. However, everything has been given a significant graphical overhaul, with bright, colorful, vibrant game worlds and impressive animations that make it a real treat for the eyes. Simply put, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy looks fantastic and is one of the most visually pleasing games released all year.
Players are free to jump into whatever game in the trilogy they want to try first, but it’s best to start with the original as they get steadily more complicated and content-rich. The first Spyro the Dragon is a relatively ho-hum affair, with little in the way of challenge, and can be fully completed in less than five hours. That includes finding all of the hidden gems, saving all the trapped dragons, getting all of the achievements, and unlocking all of the Skill Points.
Skill Points were originally introduced as part of Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! back in the day, but Spyro: Reignited Trilogy adds them to the first Spyro as well, giving veterans some extra challenges to complete. Instead of unlocking new abilities for Spyro like their name implies, Skill Points instead unlock concept art that hardcore fans will find interesting, and it’s well worth tackling all of the challenges for some added replayability.
Otherwise, Spyro the Dragon should be just as fans remember it, but with an absolutely stunning new coat of paint. It shows its age in places, particularly when it comes to the simplicity of the level designs and the cringe-worthy dialogue, but it’s still a blast to play. Whether going through it for the first time or for nostalgia, players should have a good time with Spyro the Dragon.
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!, meanwhile, is the most well-rounded entry in the trilogy. It retains the basic gameplay formula from the first game, but adds new features to make it an overall more engaging and challenging experience. Bosses are no longer bland pushovers, and instead put up an actual fight. Gems can now be used to purchase new abilities for Spyro that make exploring the environment more fun, and each level features Dragon Orbs that require players to complete unique and creative tasks, such as ice hockey games or finding hidden areas.
Spyro 2 expands the franchise’s scope in other ways beyond its gameplay improvements. New characters are added to the mix, and there’s more of a fleshed-out story besides just finding a bunch of dragons. All of the new characters are anthropomorphic animals like Spyro, and the dialogue is still pretty corny, but it’s an improvement over the original’s story regardless.
The only frustrating thing about Spyro 2 is the camera, which is an issue across all three games in the trilogy. There are certain platforming sections and moments where Spyro has to move quickly through an area, and the camera sometimes struggles to keep up. The result is Spyro may find himself charging head-first into a pool of lava or worse, flying off a cliff to his doom.
Spyro: Year of the Dragon, the third game in the series, retains these issues with the camera, and is easily the least impressive game in the collection. It throws a lot of new features into the mix to try to freshen things up, but it comes across as kind of gimmicky. Each level is stuffed with mini-games and distractions that aren’t nearly as fun as the core Spyro gameplay, but are necessary for players to find all the dragon eggs and beat the game.
Year of the Dragon also puts players in the shoes of new playable characters in the form of a kangaroo, a bird, a yeti, and a monkey, the latter of which is equipped with a laser gun. These animals have different abilities, and so their levels provide a different kind of gameplay than the traditional Spyro stages, like shooting sections, in the case of the monkey. Since there are only a few of these levels in any given world, they don’t really feel like fully-realized parts of the experience, and like the mini-games, come across as gimmicky.
Even though Year of the Dragon is the weakest game in the bunch, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s quite good overall, and is also one of the lengthier adventures in the trilogy to boot. And while a lot of its new ideas don’t exactly stick the landing, they at least offer some variety.
Perhaps some of the ideas and features presented in Year of the Dragon could be expanded on in a brand new Spyro the Dragon adventure, and it would be interesting to see what developer Toys for Bob could do if it decided to revive the series proper. If nothing else, the studio’s excellent work on Spyro: Reignited Trilogy shows the franchise in good hands, and a new game could address some of the poorly-aged elements and other fan complaints, like the the Reignited Trilogy‘s lack of subtitles.
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is out now for PS4 and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the game on Xbox One.