Review by bluej33

"One Story You Won't Want to Hear..."

Once, a long, long time ago, there was a franchise called Spyro. It was named after a small, purple dragon, who was the namesake of the franchise. A long time ago, these games were actually very fun. However, once they began to come to home consoles, their quality dropped like Spyro himself trying to fly. However, the newest GameCube installment, called Spyro: A Hero's Tail, procured a nifty little bit of advertisement, and corrupted many Cube owners, including myself, into purchasing this game for the holidays.

But how deceptive it all was! On Christmas morning, I quickly popped the game into my precious Cube, and prepared myself for hours of old-school Spyro platforming. But how disappointed I was! The game started out with a pathetic excuse for a plot. Basically, some big red dragon, creatively named Red, has supplanted the beautiful Dragon's Realm (shockingly enough, where all the dragons live) with the evil Dark Gems! Now, the dragon Spyro must destroy all the Dark Gems and restore the world to lightness!

So, as all this was coming to me, I was thinking, “Uh oh...sounds like a great set-up for a simple item collection game. But...nah, they wouldn't be that obvious!” Well, I was wrong; developer Vivendi had absolutely no problem with being so painfully obvious. The game lacks any real depth, because the majority of the time, you just wander randomly around seeking out Dark Gems. But don't despair yet, because collecting Dark Gems isn't the only thing you'll do. That's right, you can also collect Light Gems. Isn't that awesome? They're, like, totally the EXACT SAME THING, except they have different names! Yup, Vivendi definitely outdid themselves here in terms of creativity.

Sarcasm aside for the moment, there is actually one cool feature of Hero's Tail: there are multiple playable characters. Taking a hint from every other video game in recent existence, you can play as more than one character; - - four, to be exact. Now, Vivendi actually did a fairly good job of giving them all fairly distinct abilities. One, for example, is an archer, while another is a mole with some mad digging skills. Sadly, as soon as I saw a spark of life in Hero's Tail, it was quickly stomped back to death by that giant called Monotony. See, the problem is that the alternative characters play such a minor role; you still play about 80% of the game as that stupid purple dragon who can't even fly properly.

“Well, I'll just have to stick with it,” I thought to myself. “Come on- -how bad can it be?” As I found out, it could be quite bad. The controls almost made me cry, they were so bad. The camera was bulky, unwieldy, and NEVER did what I told it to do! The controls were stupidly simple, and “fighting” enemies consisted mainly of hitting one of two buttons. Yet, despite the fact that it was so simple in structure, it was still difficult. And no, that's not the good type of difficult. Rather, it was just incredibly frustrating. For example: you're jumping around from platform to platform, trying to complete the stupid task currently at hand. Then, all of a sudden, a huge boulder comes flying out of nowhere and crushes you into the dark abyss of...the dark abyss that ALWAYS surrounds jumping platforms. And the boulder simply falls out of the sky as soon as you come near it! Vivendi obviously had some difficulty differentiating between “challenging” and “unfair”. Hero's Tail is just the type of game that makes you want to hurl you controller against the wall and makes you cry that you ever wasted your money on a game this poor.

To add insult to injury, Hero's Tail just can't seem to do anything on its own. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has been done before in past games. Do moves like “Spin Attack” and “Wall Jump” by any chance sound familiar to you? And Vivendi didn't even have the decency to change the name of these groundbreaking techniques...it's pathetic, really. As you pursue the quest for Dark Gems AND Light Gems, you'll work your way through “dungeons” (Zelda ripoff, perchance?), if they can really be called that. You'll employ your many complex fighting techniques (remember? X and Y buttons) as you take on a couple of foes with the IQ of a rock. Level design is horrendous; it's far too linear and simple, and dungeons can literally be beaten in 10 or 15 minutes.

In case you're somehow still considering purchasing this game, let me say: the music is horrendous. The voice acting is among the worst I've ever heard - - in all honesty, you'll probably turn the volume off while playing this game. The visuals, on the other hand, are possibly the one good thing about this game. The framerate is surprisingly smooth, and the backgrounds are nicely done. Unfortunately, though, you'll be too irritated with the game's lack of fairness to even take notice of the nice-looking visuals.

So, in case you haven't gotten the point yet, I'll tell you again: don't buy this game! The plot is stupid, the music sucks, and game play is downright boring. If you think that controlling a purple dragon who sounds like a girl and can't fly more than a few feet is fun, though, perhaps give this game a spin. That, or get it for your four year old younger sibling. The game is over for Spyro...


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 05/29/07, Updated 11/12/07

Game Release: Spyro: A Hero's Tail (US, 11/03/04)


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