Title: Spyro the Dragon: Reignited Trilogy
Developer: Toys for Bob
Genre: Platforming Adventure
Available On: Playstation 4, Xbox One
Official Site: https://www.spyrothedragon.com/
Release Date: November 13, 2018
Spyro the Dragon Reignited Trilogy is one of the most nostalgic games that’s been released this year. It’s an absolutely gorgeous remake of three games originally released on the original PlayStation console- Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon. The games were originally released, one game per year, from 1998 and 2000. So the big question of the day is whether or not the games hold up in 2018, despite the high level of graphical polish.
Before we can answer the question of whether or not the games hold up, we have to take a look back at the original games and recognize them as the landmark series that they were. Spyro the Dragon was a game that was created around the limitations of the PlayStation console, rather than fighting against them. Textures were kept simple to minimize the impact of affine texture warping- the effect that makes textures close to the camera appear oddly skewed due to the Playstation’s 3D rendering hardware- and rather than to completely eliminate objects in the distance, they instead were replaced with simplified, low-polygon models, which gave the impression of very long sight-lines. Everything about the original game was refined and honed to fine art to keep the framerate steady and the action fast. All three of the Spyro games pushed the system to its limits, and the results were, at the time, absolutely stunning.
After all of that praise for the original PlayStation version, the onus is on the developer Toys for Bob to create a remake that’s just as technically astounding as the classic games in the series, while keeping the same atmosphere, story, and gameplay. They seemingly succeeded- the game is gorgeous, and the amount of polish on the game is simply stunning. The flat green ground textures are now fully modeled and interactive grass that can be trampled on and burned by Spyro’s flame breath. The simple grey castle parapets are transformed into incredible stonework with individual rocks that reflect lights from the world. And most importantly, the characters in the game have been overhauled entirely, from the ground up.
Spyro Reignited has had some mild controversy regarding its character remodels, however, but mostly in regards to its sequels. In the original Spyro game, you’re tasked with freeing dragons from their green crystal prisons. Each dragon in the original game has one of only a few models, simply recolored and posed in a different position. In the Reignited Trilogy, every single dragon has his own unique model, and it’s incredible attention to detail that was unnecessary, but so very much appreciated. In the second and third game, you’ll meet lots of partner characters, whose design was drastically changed from the original games; while the PlayStation 1 version of the game kept the designs basic, the designs in the Reignited Trilogy have completely new outfits, new hair, and completely new designs overall. The new designs, in my opinion, are quite nice, but hardcore fans of the original may balk at the added detail. Enemy designs have also received this change, and for the most part it looks fantastic; though in keeping with the spirit of the Reignited Trilogy, all of the enemy AI is identical to how it was in the original game, leading to there only being a handful of different enemy types, even if their outward appearances look completely different.
As far as gameplay goes, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy tends to keep things simple, adding only a few changes. Every game in the series now has a minimap to help orient yourself in the levels, and the controls have been changed around to make things easier. You can now fully control the camera using the right stick, and the shoulder buttons have been remapped to include Flame and Charge, making this control scheme work miles better. Purists, however, will be delighted to know that there is an option for returning the control scheme back to the one included with the original game, though the right stick will always control the camera. Also included in all of the games are Skill Points; a list of challenges you can complete for bragging rights (and of course, achievements). While the Skill Points feature was included for the first time in Spyro 2, Toys for Bob has included a series of 14 challenges for the original game as well- quite a nice change! Completing a full page of Skill Point challenges will also unlock a piece of concept art for the game, giving you a reason to chase down all of them.
Spyro Reignited also adds a brand new feature to all three games in the series; the ability to make Sparx the Dragonfly point you towards treasure you haven’t collected yet. This feature alone is a game-changer; no longer will you need to run through the same level over and over again searching for that one gem accidentally left behind. This feature is quite handy, and especially so, as one of the shortcomings of the Reignited Trilogy is that Sparx doesn’t seem to pick gems up as consistently as he did in the original game. It seems like the range is no longer a small “sphere” around Spyro, it feels as though it’s a flat “disc”, leading to a few moments where you’d be just slightly above or below a gem and not have Sparx collect it for you. Normally I would say that it’s a huge problem, but with the addition of the ability to have Sparx point out any treasure in the level, it’s at most a minor nuisance.
Another downside is while the first two games feel extremely polished, with the first game having tons of unique dragon models to rescue and the second game having a massive cast of side characters that have all been retouched; the third game in this package feels somewhat underwhelming when compared to those first two entries. The game tasks you with rescuing dragon eggs, and the baby dragons that hatch from those eggs do not use any unique animations, in fact, the animations are, for the most part, the same animations used in the original PlayStation version. It feels a little cheap and is a small black mark on an otherwise flawless package.
Verdict: If you’ve never played any of the Spyro games, this is a fantastic entry point. If you’ve played Spyro games in the past, this is a great way to relive those games. The changes made to the games, along with the amazing graphical overhaul, make the Spyro Reignited Trilogy truly the definitive way to experience Spyro, whether it’s your first playthrough or your hundredth.
- Phenomenally remastered graphics and sound
- Updated controls to match modern standards
- Added features to make the games more accessible
- Utter lack of subtitles for spoken dialog
- Some very minor performance issues
- Games 2 and 3 are separate downloads, even with disc copies