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Looking back: Spyro the Dragon from the Reignited Trilogy

Released in November 2018, the Spyro the Dragon Reignited Trilogy included the three original Playstation titles from the Spyro franchise in one convenient bundle. While I played those games back in the day, it had been many years since I've touched one. Plus I've never beaten any of them to completion. This became the chance where I could restart a lost chapter of my childhood. Spoiler alert, I recently finished Spyro the Dragon to 100% completion on the Reignited Trilogy.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy was developed by Toys for Bob and published by Activision. The original trilogy was developed by Insomniac Games, who would later go onto develop Ratchet and Clank and Spider-Man for PS4. Activision released the title on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. It's currently available for $29.99 at most retailers.

In the Spyro the Dragon, you'll play as the titular purple dragon. As Spyro, you survived as the only dragon not crystallized by the evil Gnasty Gnorc. As the villain plots to conquer the Dragon Realms, you set out to stop him, collecting gems and freeing your elder dragons along the way.

The straightforward storyline involves short cutscenes of Spyro rescuing his dragon brethren, usually with cheesy lines or even some advice. Interestingly enough, all the voice acting was redubbed with new actors. However, Spyro's original voice actor from the 2nd and 3rd titles returned for the remake!

In this platforming game, you'll experience the collect-a-thon thematic that was popular in the 90s. Each world contains a hub with a series of levels to explore. You'll collect gems, find dragons, and even hunt for Dragon Eggs to add to your collection.

Each level holds enemies out to kill you. Fortunately for you, none of them are by any means dangerous. They fight with basic patterns and may chase you around. Their basic difficulty level reflects that Spyro was a game intended for kids. While more challenging platformers, like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie permeated the N64, the developers created a game with nothing too daunting.

On the flipside, however, some of the platforming challenges proved to be much more difficult. While the stages themselves vary their obstacles, perhaps one of the most challenging things was a simple glide. More specifically, some of the glide points in this game have a huge stretch of distance. If you're off by even an inch, you can fall to your death even when it seemed like you'd make it. Moreover, the explorative parts of this game, such as collecting all gems, prove to be quite challenging to traverse. With the Supercharge, you'll have to find non-linear paths disconnected from the intended path and take a risky jump just to find your secrets.

Also, in the Reignited Trilogy, the developers added Easter Eggs and other quests to find, these add "Skill Points," which can be used to unlock Art Galleries. You can also unlock Trophies for some stage quests. However, these feel arbitrarily placed and not necessary. You're already collecting enough from the original game, so burning down gears or looking for a random Wizard's Hat feels a bit too extra. Moreover, there's a "hidden room" in the Dream Weavers hub, yet there's no hint showcasing its presence, which felt tacked-on and unnecessary. Thankfully, these are optional. But for completionists, it's an inconvenience.

On the bright side, the controls in Spyro Reignited Trilogy feel incredibly smooth. Take a game from 20 years ago and polish it nicely and you have a 90s platformer remade with modern controls. They feel tight and Spyro feels incredibly agile. You can use your ram attack against small, armored enemies and Fire Breath against everything else. Even in spite of the enemies being as dumb as they are, it feels wonderfully satisfying to take down every enemy in the game and watch them bounce on the floor or against the wall.

Note, the bosses in this game all run away from you and are by no means challenging. Once again, this probably invokes how the developers wanted to make the game welcoming for kids. The bosses play more like stage obstacles. Catch up to them, fry them, and you'll win after a few hits.

Also, you'll have to go through Flight Stages in order to complete the game. While I've said it's easy for combat, stage obstacles once again hold the biggest challenge. You'll have to collect four sets of goal items to clear a flight stage. Several of them are non-linear, forcing you to create your own path. And all of them require precision. Touch the water, even so much as graze it, and you have to restart. You'll have to collect all 40 of the collectibles in order to clear the stage. While the controls for flying are well done, you'll be more than happy to be done with these. They're quite frustrating compared to the normal platforming stages.

In terms of audio and visual design, the Reignited Trilogy goes above and beyond. The game looks as smooth as it feels. The stages themselves all feature layers of redesign, featuring skies with stars and much more vibrant animation. They all feel like they've come to life. Many of the stages look absolutely gorgeous, especially the Flight stages.

The character redesigns brim with life. Every rescued dragon features his own appearance and clothing. Even if it's just for a fleeting moment, you can take a second to appreciate the thought and design that went into these characters. The bosses also received a major facelift as well. Everything in Spyro underwent a makeover fitting a title of the current generation. You might be fooled into thinking it wasn't made in the 90s!

Notably, the soundtrack of this wonderful game remains catchy from start to finish. Stewart Copeland's compositions feature a whimsical fantasy track with plenty of bass and rhythm. Each level has its own feel while largely using a similar motif to the main Spyro theme.

Also, remember when I mentioned that you're collecting a number of items throughout the game? Well, after you've defeated Gnasty Gnorc, if you've cleared 100% of the game, you can access his loot! One final level awaits as you free-fly around the stage and collect 2000 gems, solidifying your ultimate completion. Plus you'll get a special ending scene!

Overall, Insomniac knew how to reward their players back in the day. The developers put a ton of effort into making a game with charming characters, a beautiful soundtrack, and incentives to keep the players wanting more. Sure, its enemies aren't exactly threatening and you still gotta deal with the misleading glide points and those borderline-irritating flight stages.

Verdict: Recommend
However, they're minor flaws in spite of a much larger scope of classic, varied platform level design. Flying around, exploring for secrets, and taking down baddies quickly becomes the ideal medium of fun. In an era where 3D platformers aren't as prominent as they were decades ago, Spyro Reignited Trilogy offers that injection of fresh life the genre needed. If you enjoy platformers and games that aren't too stressful, Spyro's your buddy and his game will welcome you into its world.

*All images courtesy of Activision