In the era of Sony, Nintendo, and Sega, everyone needed a mascot. Nintendo and Sega had already established their own, with Mario and Sonic battling it out for console supremacy. Meanwhile, Sony was in a weird middle state. While PlayStation never put all its weight behind one mascot, Spyro was a constant frontrunner. Times have changed, and now Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a remake of the original PS1 trilogy published by Activision.
In the Reignited Trilogy, you'll go through Spyro's adventures in the Dragon Realms, Avalar, and the Forgotten Realms. The uncomplicated plots remain the same. After being called ugly on TV, Gnasty Gnorc has turned all Dragons into crystal statues. Spyro's job is simply to travel to each of the worlds and rescue these dragons. In Ripto's Rage, Spyro gets summoned to a new world called Avalar to help the residents fight back against a tyrannical dictator, Ripto. Finally, in Year of the Dragon, The Sorceress has stolen all of the dragon eggs from the Dragon Realms and Spyro needs to travel to the other side of the world to try to get them back.
Each game sets up a simple problem and what you need to do to resolve it. With the dragons' love for collecting treasure and reclaiming the status quo, you have additional collectibles to get. From there you begin moving through worlds. While none of the games have complicated stories, having all three side by side still shows the development of characters and plot. For example, the worlds in Spyro the Dragon are filled solely with enemies. By the later games, each world populates with denizens with their own problems to overcome. This gives the player a sense of accomplishment as they return water to the seahorse world, or free the petrified Fauns.
To get through each world, you'll have to use Spyro's natural skills at gliding, charging, and breathing fire. Most enemies fall to one of Spyro's two attacks. Larger enemies are immune to the charging horns and some smaller foes strap on metal armor to survive the heat. In these cases, you might need to use the other technique, or see if they have a weakness like an unprotected back. All of this gameplay is simple and understandable to any age group. While it may sound monotonous, the wide variety of enemies and scenarios keeps gameplay refreshing.
Gameplay continues to develop in Ripto's Rage. Spyro earns new abilities like climbing and swimming after depositing some funds with Moneybags. These new moves expand on gameplay while staying close to the origins of the character. One big shakeup in Year of the Dragon is the inclusion of other playable characters. New friends like Bentley and Agent 9 each have one full level and a number of sub-levels to discover.
Each character plays completely differently. In one world, you may move around 3D freely as Sgt. Byrd. In another, you'll play a third-person shooter segment that may or may not have led to the development of Ratchet and Clank. Splitting out these different styles of gameplay keeps up the variety of the third game without watering down the Spyro experience. It would have been easy to overcomplicate Spyro's abilities, and this was a much better alternative.
Controlling Spyro and his friends feels like a treat. In the original game, characters sometimes struggled against slopes and imprecise movement. That isn't a problem here, but the Reignited Trilogy has made flying and swimming slightly more difficult. Whenever you grab a Superflight power-up, the camera just seems too close to Spyro. There's also a drift in Spyro's movements. This both restricts the player's view and makes movement feel unresponsive and laggy. Swimming contains the same issues with the added problem of a drift always having you slide off target. This can be especially infuriating when trying to hit a gem underwater or take out an octopus.
One further change that I go back and forth on is the addition of tall grass. In the original Spyro, the "grass" was just a green floor with occasional tufts of shrubs. Now, the vibrant world features lush 3D foliage. While this does make the world feel alive, it also occasionally conceals gems that used to be out in the open. Being used to a completionist playthrough, missing gems in the grass really slows down the experience. Trying to go for 100% just got a little more difficult.
Compared to the originals, Spyro Reignited Trilogy does everything that you could hope for in remaking 20-year-old games. The controls are more responsive. The hitboxes of Spyro and enemies are more faithful to their actual shape. It makes everything feel way better while playing, but these changes bring up similar issues as the remastered Crash Bandicoot trilogy. When trying to walk or land on the edge of cliffs, the game has far less leeway than it used to. Since this is a 1:1 recreation of the original titles, some of the difficult jumps become even harder to pull off.
The entire soundtrack for Spyro Reignited Trilogy also got a refresh. Stewart Copeland returns to create new music as well as a new theme song. These remixed tracks capture the essence of the original and remix it with new instruments. This remake also includes the Dynamic Music system that Copeland had originally wanted to put in the first games. As you change between combat, exploring, or resting in the game the music will shift to better match your speed. It allows the highs of the music to accompany a boss fight, while not remaining unnecessarily tense through the entire level. At any point in time, you're also able to swap back to the original tracks, which still hold up fantastically.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy manages to preserve what was great about the originals and recreate them into something better than you remember. Fans of Spyro will be able to pick this up and immediately settle back into nostalgia. New players are sure to have fun without having to contend with the PS1's rough edges. Either way, aside from some changes that come with modern technology, it's a well-rounded nostalgic package.
TechRaptor reviewed Spyro Reignited Trilogy on Xbox One with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 4.
- Looks Better Than Ever...
- Tighter Controls...
- Both Soundtracks
- ...Hitboxes Can Deceive
- ...Except Flying or Swimming