Review by P_Peachie
"A Misunderstood Beauty"
Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is by no doubt an extremely glitch-filled and slow game which leaves many people wondering if it was rushed through production. Because of this the beauty and general harmonious touch to the game is often overshadowed, and it is very easy to forget that while no Spyro game can compete with the original PS1 trilogy, there are many traits they hold that Enter the Dragonfly has managed to outshine.
Weirdly, Spyro moves in a much more leisurely and "floaty" way than in previous games. This fits incredibly well with the game now having a very tranquil and dreamy atmosphere, but veteran players are likely to find the generally slower controls to be very frustrating, especially when the timing is off when attacking.
Levels have a much more wide-open and breezy feel. You have plenty of room to run around while admiring the scenery in-between battling it out with bad guys. Everything is at a much larger scale that usual. You'll really feel like you're walking miles, and it feels great. Good and enjoyable journeys await you here.
Spyro can still do all his infamous moves, but now he can also have different kinds of breath which will help him out on his new adventures. This is a fun touch and will be entertaining to experiment with while defeating enemies and interacting with the environments. At the start of the game he is given Bubble Breath, which is used to catch the dragonflies. This adds a little extra challenge to your gameplay as you can't just obtain your collectables by walking up to them anymore; you have to try and catch them! This is pretty fun and adds more satisfaction to your treasure hunting.
He can also ride in various vehicles such as planes and tanks, all of which have unique controls and challenges which, although being fairly boring and tedious compared to the normal gameplay levels, should add a little extra spice. Sadly you cannot play as Sparx, Hunter or any of Spyro's rescued friends from Spyro 3 (e.g. Shiela the Kangaroo and Sgt Byrd). You'll only be playing as Spyro in this game, unlike Spyro 2 and Spyro 3- so this is a step-down in that department. On the bright side however, speedways are still here.
Disappointment will begin kicking in when you start to realize there are very few levels in this game, approximately only a third of the quantity of the game's predecessors; on top of that there is only one home world. More pangs of disappointment will hit at you when you realize those levels can't be played in a free-spirited style (the core target of the original Spyro games was that you had the freedom to play the game's levels in the order that you choose, making everyone's adventure a little different). This game is sadly very linear in contrast to the classic Spyro theory.
Yet the biggest downfall is the unfathomable amount of glitches plaguing countless areas of the game. There will be many confusing and upsetting times when you will jump and land on what you think is a solid ledge, only to fall to your death (or sometimes you'll land on an invisible ledge!) It's likely your game will crash in the middle of playing a level or even when the level is just loading up. And don't be surprised if some of the characters don't talk, or if some bad guys just stand there frozen in animation and don't even try to attack you. It's not uncommon to flame a basket only to hear the sound effect of it breaking a minute later. Maybe you'll even end up swimming in mid-air. Really, the game has so many different crazy glitches it seems almost humorous- and very, very aggravating.
Spyro games never had much of a storyline (and they didn't really need it) but this game is so lacking in storyline compared to the previous ones that you'll understand just how poor it is. You must go round collecting all the dragonflies scattered around the place because Well, the bad guy did it To, err, annoy everyone. True, this plot structure is very similar to previous Spyro games, but they at least had extra backbone, character interest and exciting cutscenes. This game has none of that. No heart at all.
The characters you'll meet in the different levels of your quest don't have any connection to the main plot, yet it's odd because they speak the most (although respectively, their own little level-set stories have the same charm as previous Spyro games).
Spyro's once cute and feisty personality is very watered down and near non-existent, and the only time you'll see his long-time friends is at the beginning of the game (although Hunter will do his usual thing of reappearing in challenges, asking you to help him out with his tasks). Even the main villain makes barely any appearance at all. Veterans again will be very, very disappointed, and newcomers will be left scratching their heads in bewilderment. In fact, everyone will be left scratching their heads wondering where exactly the storyline ran off to.
Now this is where the game will blow you away. The graphics are immensely crisp and detailed for the PS2/Gamecube era. But no, it's not the quality which will amaze you most; it's the sheer beauty of the level design that'll get your eyes popping. Painstaking work has been put into every level, so that you don't just appreciate the environment- you can feel it. For example, cherry blossoms or leaves will fall from the trees (which, if you run through, will scatter upwards into the air again- a playful touch). You can dash through crops of wheat or long grass and watch it all separate and rustle around you. Playing Enter the Dragonfly gives you the closest feeling to being in touch with nature- virtually.
However the most wonderful graphical achievement of Enter the Dragonfly is the superb water effects which many next-generation consoles cannot compete with. The water looks so realistic and reflective you will want to drink from it, and if you feel like diving in those ripples will move with you. It's so real and wonderful it could send shivers down your spine.
Spyro worlds have never been so enchanting. The blissful atmosphere you'll feel in each level will make you think like you're on some kind of magical holiday tour. Each level has its own special, very deep experience and all are wonderfully colorful and memorable. As you glide gracefully over those beautiful mountain peaks or frolic through those misty meadows there'll be this wonderful soothing, almost spiritual feel. It's rare for a game to achieve such flawless atmosphere.
Stewart Copeland's music for Spyro has always had its characteristic glockenspiel-tinkles, electric guitar hits and jazzy melodies. This has all returned in Enter the Dragonfly; but things have definitely taken a much more experimental feel- and it sounds absolutely fantastic. It gives the game that emotional boost it needs where the story lacks. The music for each level manages to keep the style of the older games and yet capture the essence and atmosphere of each new level perfectly, all in a unique and admittedly quirky way. The hauntingly beautiful soundtrack coupled lovingly with the rich wonderlands has the power and potential to bring tears to a gamer's eye.
The sound effects are luscious and a delight, but sadly can often be played out of sync due to glitches in the game. Nevertheless, it's always candy to your ears to hear the rolling popping of your bubble breath as you try to catch a dragonfly, or that high-pitched sparkling noise you get once you pick up a gem. All the sounds are great and are of very high quality.
The voices, however, are a letdown. Most of the voices sound very unprofessional or just plain annoying. Sparx talks to you face-to-face in this game, but in his buzzy insect language, which is cute but ends up getting very irritating. The most painful voice of all is Hunter, who for some reason must put emphasis to at least three words in each sentence; never mind his corny surfer-dude one liners. His voice actor is seemingly the same, but he sounds so fake and overly-enthusiastic this time around that you'll end up cringing. Spyro's voice is okay- but just okay; again, same voice actor but sounding weirdly amateur. However a lot of the level-specific characters which you need to help have some very good and cartoony voices which work well with their character.
Also, you've got to be impressed by the fact Spyro speaks to each baby dragonfly you rescue individually (which means around over 100 voice clips recorded just for dragonflies alone), saying greetings such as Hey, it's Larry! or Hey, it's Cindy! for example.
Play Time: 8/10
The length of time this game takes to get you to the end is impressive, considering the fact this game has a much smaller number of levels than previous games. The secret to the long play time is probably to do with the fact that you must rescue a certain number of dragonflies before you can proceed to later levels; and those dragonflies don't usually come easy! The other (and very sad) reason for the long play time is the fact that this game plays slow, loads slow, and just is slow. If you have the patience to get to the end, you are a very forgiving player.
As with all Spyro games, the levels are always charmed with secret treasures, hard-to-reach places, hidden areas, and extra challenges. You'll end up going back to previous levels to collect more treasure and hunt for more dragonflies, and usually this will be a joy to do because the second time round you're very likely to come across something new that you didn't notice before.
While Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is a very misunderstood and beautiful game, I would only recommend it to hardcore Spyro fans or those with a high appreciation for artistic beauty. This game is not for the average platform gamer because it is far too dreamlike and filled with agonizing glitches. If however you are a more casual player who likes to explore vast and lush worlds without really caring if you die lots of times then you will most certainly enjoy this. Sadly though, this game really isn't usually worth someone's money unless you want to escape to somewhere pretty for a while.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/09/09
Game Release: Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly (EU, 11/29/02)
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