As a kid, Spyro was one of the very few games I had on my only console, the Playstation 1. Nobody really talked about it at school at the time, it didn't seem particularly well known, but as time has gone on Spyro has gained more and more recognition from nostalgics like me, searching for the series online shows that there is still a vast amount of interest in the series and a thirst for more games similar to the first three. I was happy to find that one of my old favorites is now so recognized, so I decided to go back and experience it again for myself.
So, let's all take out or hankies and remember another classic video game series that has since went to hell.
The primary objective of the game is basically collecting things, this is a collecting game, but there isn't really much to collect. Collecting the dragons that you find encased in crystal are fun because they'll talk to you and give you advice or a funny antidote, I personally enjoy it in games when the things you are collecting feel more personal, so when I rescue a dragon I feel a little swelling of pride like "Yeah, I rescued you, you must really love me right now." Well, that's just me...
There's also dragon eggs, but those are scattered pretty erratically through the game, sometimes they'll be none for twenty levels and sometimes there will be three in one level. You'll have the hardest time collecting all the gems, they're basically the Spyro equivalent of Super Mario's coins, in that they're just scattered throughout the entire game, there's literally thousands, but since your dragonfly Sparx collects them for you when you get near enough to them you can collect a bunch at once pretty effortlessly.
Sparx also monitors your health, he will change from gold to blue to green as your health depeletes, once he vanishes you only have one hit left. To replenish your health you need to attack a critter, little harmless animals scattered through the game, and they will turn into a butterfly (because magic) that Sparx will eat. The critters are a very common sight, but they seem to be nowhere to be found as soon as you actually need them.
The levels themselves are extremely fun, and basically the essence of what makes Spyro so great. There are five hubs or 'worlds' that each have five levels in them, both the hubs and the levels are fun to explore, getting from one end to the other (as in, the end of the level) is straightforward and will almost never be a problem, but there are many secrets hidden around that you can easily miss. You'll have to keep your third eye open when playing this game, at least if you want to 100% it (which I did, of course). Gliding is very fun, it makes you think more platforming games should have it. It basically means you have to judge whether you can reach the next platformed by picturing yourself gliding (going forward and down through the sky) and sometimes you'll miscalculate and fall.
The enemies are extremely easy, they're basically just a distraction from the platforming. You have two attacks, flame breath and charge, you'll be using charge to get around the levels a lot too since it makes you go much faster. Usually either attack will take care of an enemy instantly, but sometimes an enemy will be too big to charge, or too armored to flame. Later on in the game the enemies get very interesting as magicians will transform them into different creatures as you're fighting them, but other than that the action is pretty much just going through the motions.
There are many great gameplay variations, things that are thrown in there just to spice things up now and again, thankfully none of them are annoying. The 'Flight' levels are particularly fantastic, in these levels Spyro gains the ability of full flight and must flame all marked objects on an island before the timer runs out, actually now that I've typed it out it sounds awful, but trust me it's a lot of fun, it almost feels like they could make another entire game out of that formula. There's also speed ramps, when Spyro runs down them they speed him up so that he becomes fast enough to break through walls and go flying through the sky.
(This is where I'd put the rest of the Spyro screenshots, but I don't have any more. So you know, whatever, the screenshots just stop halfway through the review... nobody even reads this far anyway, they just skip to the bottom to see the score I gave, or they came here accidentally by searching for pokemon furry porn. Goddamn nobody reads this blog, I could write anything. I had an affair with a forty year old professor from Durham, when I was twelve I poo'ed myself in detention, I just plain don't like spanish people. Wow that was all controversial, it doesn't matter though, nobody's reading this... hey speaking of reading, have you read that thing Game of Thrones? I keep trying but it's boring, I feel like I'm the type of person who should be able to enjoy it, but I can't follow what's going on, how come George Martin has so many readers but I don't? Doesn't make any sense... anyway I should probably just get back to this review.)
I have a major problem with the graphics, but I still find it hard to truly fault the effort. In one way Spyro is graphically innovative for the PlayStation platform, the most amazing thing is the way it defeats the PS1's draw-distance problem in which only a small (by today's standards) amount of pixels can be on screen at one time, meaning that the distance of a level was just fog. In Spyro the game engine renders in seven different levels of detail, depending on how far away from the player an object is, this means that you can see from one end of the level to the other, which is very important as you'll often need to plan out your route to get to the more trickier hidden items.
But my problem with it is the textures, they're very flat and lifeless, most of the enviroment is just made out of chunks of solid color, for instance no grass texture, just a green floor, no stone texture, just a white-ish wall. After having just played the whole Tomb Raider series, it's hard to forgive this laziness in texturing, some Playstation 1 games have cracks in their walls, currents in their water, nostrils in their snouts, texture in their textures, but some don't, and this is one of those. Having said that, the game is very bright and it uses color well, so it's hardly an eye sore, it just could have looked so much better.
The soundtrack is great, it doesn't truly get phenomenal until the next two sequels, but it still does it's job exceptionally well. It doesn't really sound like anything else I've heard, not too bouncy and not too monotone, but it still gives the impression of a fun, eccentric world and an eager little dragon on an adventure. There's also great work done into the sounds of the enemies, they're very cartoon-like in look and movement, so they sound just the same, rather than just an "ooh!" from every enemy they'll all make their own funny different squeals. I don't know, it's little things like that which make you realize the developers actually had fun making the game.