Review by WishingTikal
"A step-back for sure, but not as awful as it sounds... Close to the original, minus the slowdown"
Spyro the Dragon on PlayStation was one of the best platformers of the generation, and although not quite on par with something like Banjo-Kazooie or Rayman 2, it still is one awesome game, and all three PSX titles are. I picked up Enter the Dragonfly with no expectations, after reading several reviews stating it was nothing short of awful. I knew it was going to be bad, but I still wanted it, and actually, it's really not that bad. The game simply suffers from some bad programming. Had it been worked on a bit more, it could at last have been as good as the first Spyro game.
I'm sure you've heard about how supposedly horrendeous Enter the Dragonfly is. Well, it's only half true. Your goal in this new Spyro entry is to find all the Dragonflies that Ripto stole. The dragonflies are scattered through nine worlds, at 10 to find per level, as well as around 700 gems in each of those levels. The worlds are sized decently, smaller than in previous Spyro games, but slightly more open-ended. They are themed pretty well, with recurring themes that have been done before in previous Spyro games (oriental mount, tropical island, dream skyworld, ice peak, volcanic jungle...) and it even has the usual lame level (Crop Circle Country, anyone? - basically a farm over-run by ovnis, actually worse than Spyro 2's Robotic Farm). In fact, the worlds are so alike that sometimes Enter the Dragonfly feels like a cheap remake.
You'll need to explore the levels to find all the dragonflies and gems, but the areas are so small and limited that you don't really get a good feeling of exploration, unlike the first Spyro game. Thankfully, the levels have a pleasant, soothing atmosphere and most levels are really artistically pretty, doing justice to the series. Most dragonflies you'll need to find are in plain view, but you'll need to run after them to catch them. Some other dragonflies can only be obtained through mini-games. The gems, on the other hand, can be pretty hard to find as some are well hidden in corners and inaccessible areas. The mini-games aren't quite as good as in previous Spyro titles, but some of them are quite fun, namely the sliding and flying ones. Others are downright horrible, like the tank mini-game, for example. Nothing very original, nonetheless.
Something new in Enter the Dragonfly; you can now get the fire, water, ice and electricity breathes, but they are unfortunately not really used for anything other than unlocking new portals and feel more like an afterthought. So far, this sounds like a pretty decent Spyro game, right? It is. The only flaws that really bring it down and the reason so many people hate it are programming problems. Enter the Dragonfly has pretty long loading times, but to be honest they never exceed about 30 seconds and aren't that big of a big as they only occur when changing level. Then there's the framerate. Enter the Dragonfly is painfully slow. Spyro moves slowly, jumps slowly, and everything feels like it's slow-motion when running around. It actually makes me dizzy to play this game because the framerate is so bad. It's not unplayable, and it's not that bad once you get used to it, but it's definitely not as smooth as the titles on PlayStation.
There are also some small graphical and sound glitches, but once you accept the fact that Enter the Dragonfly was programmed poorly, it just blends in with the rest. It's also a very short game, the shortest of all Spyro games. Finding all the gems can take a while, but should not exceed 10 hours. There are only nine worlds to explore, and no boss except for the final one. Still, it's kind of fun. Enter the Dragonfly is actually very alike to the first Spyro game, more than the second or third. It's a step back, but not a bad one. Spyro the Dragon was a great game because it was so simple. Ripto's Rage and Year of the Dragon introduced so many new things to the series that it just didn't have that blissful fun anymore. Enter the Dragonfly is back to the roots of Spyro, when it was just about collecting gems and running around for fun. It's just too bad the new game is so slow. Otherwise it's pretty enjoyable.
This is the strong point of the game, and the reason the framerate is so bad. The worlds you explore are detailed and look beautiful, just like the past Spyro games. You'll see flower vines blowing in the wind, petals falling from the trees, water flowing from the waterfalls. The underwater sections don't really look as good, as it doesn't even feel like you're in the water (all you see is a blue layer above Spyro's head) and I saw some waterfalls where the water was static and also some 3D objects with missing textures, but overall the graphics are amazing for an early Gamecube game, better than some Wii games I've seen recently. They did try to do too much though, as the system apparently couldn't handle it properly, seeing as how badly the framerate suffers from it. The graphical glitches are kind of annoying, but it's not too frequent.
The cute voice samples and the musical instruments accompany the well composed music and each level has a very fitting moody tune. The melodies are really calm and represent well Spyro's enchanting world and its atmospheric charm. The sounds are very nice too, and the voice acting is decent, although Sparx's voice is annoying beyond words. Here again, some sound glitches like clipping music and voices that suddenly stop, but you learn to put up with it.
All in all, Enter the Dragonfly could have been a really good Spyro game if only more time was to given to polish the game mechanisms. Still, it's not a bad game. It does feel kind of uninspired compared to other recent platform games, because it's just so simplistic, but that's what makes Spyro unique and fun. You can just play and get things off your mind, thanks to the soothing musical pieces and beautiful landscapes to explore (this excludes the ovni farm level, obviously). It's the worst Spyro game for sure (A Hero's Tail is much better), but it's the closest to the original. It's a shame it was executed in such a cheap way, but it's still a good game, and a visually pretty one at that, to play for fun.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/01/05, Updated 08/28/08
Game Release: Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly (US, 11/08/02)
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