Review by MetalIceWolf
"The beginning of a disaster."
Spyro has went downhill ever since Insomniac Games moved on to create other franchises. In return, we received a bunch of different Spyro games from different developers. Unfortunately, none of them have come even close to being as good as the original trilogy. "Enter the Dragonfly" is commonly known as the worst Spyro game ever, due to it's vast amount of glitches, lack of variety, and for being a rushed, short lived game. "A Hero's Tail" improved, but it was very different from what Spyro once was. Now, Krome Studios, the creators of the ignored (but good) platformer series Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, is given the duty of creating a new Spyro game. And in doing so, they've completely reset the franchise and made it worse than ever.
Forget all you knew about Spyro, Sparx, Hunter, Ripto, and the rest of the gang. The only two familiar characters you'll encounter in this game are Spyro himself and Sparx, who is now a talking, annoying character, that follows you around on your journey but does absolutely nothing to actually help. Sparx even has a different appearance, and I don't like it at all. The story starts off with Spyro being in an egg, which floats off into a river, and is discovered by a group of dragonflies. He eventually hatches from the egg, and thus becomes raised by the dragonflies that found him, never knowing that he is a dragon, until one day he suddenly breathes fire and the dragonflies decide to confess that he isn't one of them. After that, Spyro sets off on a journey to discover who he is and where he came from. Along the way, he meets Igntius, a big red dragon elder, who tells Spyro that the world is endangered by a evil force known as the Dark Master and a dragon named Cynder, and only him, a rare purple dragon that apparently possesses unique abilities, can put a stop to it all. So then, Spyro goes and faces an endless horde of apes and other annoying enemies on his quest to save the other dragon elders and the world itself. It isn't too bad, but wasn't that great, either, but still....the story was better than the majority of platformer games.
I've been playing the Gamecube version of this game, and controls are incredibly simple and easy to get a hang of. A button is for jumping/gliding, B for Spyro's breath, X for melee attack, Y for shooting the special breath power (for example, a fire bomb), L is for strafing, R is for charging and Z is for performing a fury attack. The controls of the camera angered me at many points, and Spyro himself and his flying was very slippery. Charging is slow and harder to control than ever now, which is sad because I've loved the charging attack.
This is something the game does right. The music is great, really intense during certain parts, and the sound effects are okay(though the noise of the apes will eventually drive you insane.) The voice acting is awesome though, I loved having Elijah Wood being the voice of Spyro, and Gary Oldman as Ignitius. As for David Spade, his Sparx voice annoyed me, and I wasn't a fan of it. I only laughed once during the game, and it was near the end, but only due to myself being surprised at what he said...Overall, Music is excellent, sound is alright, and the voice acting is great (except for Sparx.)
The graphics are okay. The environments are pretty. Unfortunately, there are enemies whom are just recolored models, and recolors annoy me. The ape enemies, which I hate so much, are throughout the entire game, in different colors/slight appearance differences, but they're the exact same thing either way. Spyro looks ugly, to be honest, especially during the movie cutscenes (which are great), but I loved the look of Cynder. The levels are pretty, though they are of the cliche ice, lava and forest affair, though a nice level near the end involving crystals looked beautiful. Overall, the graphics could have been improved, but are alright for what they are.
The gameplay is horrible and completely different from the other Spyro games. It's all combat-orientated, which means no minigames, egg/orb collecting, etc...nothing of that sort. Gems now are only used as health/magic restorers, and for leveling up, (you're given the option to level up your breath powers and make them SLIGHTLY stronger, though I barely see a difference.) Gems are found by defeating enemies, and smashing those crystal things that are found throughout the levels. The whole 'collecting' theme is gone, there's absolutely no freedom, and barely any exploration due to the game being VERY linear. Every five seconds you're fighting something. An endless supply of enemies and annoying apes come at you, sometimes dozens at a time. The game quickly becomes a button masher, a very non-fun button masher. Using your breath powers (which can be fire, electric, ice, and even earth, yes earth breath....) consumes the magic gage, so you won't want to always use it. Instead you're just repeatedly hitting the X button and perhaps the jump button occasionally. Since the whole game is based on fighting, this becomes really repetitive, annoying and even disastrous to play. You will hate the ape enemies very quickly, especially since you'll be battling them 90% of the time, and since I hate apes/monkeys, obviously I did not enjoy encountering them at all. The huge lack of variety in this game is astounding. You can go through the whole game just using the X button. The breaths are all the same, aside from their appearance and their little pointless effect, like freezing an enemy or paralyzing them. Leveling up breaths seems pointless to me, as they all do the same amount of damage from what I've seen.
The game has absolutely no replay value, though I have no idea why someone would want to go through that wreck again. The only thing you get when completing this super short game is a interview with Elijah Wood, which barely lasts four minutes if it's even that long. Elijah Wood himself doesn't seem exactly interested in the game either, and I wouldn't blame him. If they wanted to reboot the franchise and make it better, they made a horrible mistake by transforming Spyro into a fighting, button mashing game.
Unfortunately, this new beginning for Spyro is a horrid restart to the series. It's completely different from all of the other Spyro games. The music and video department are fine, and even the story is okay, it's just that the gameplay, the most important aspect of all, is horrible, and thus it gets a really low score from me. I found that even 'Enter the Dragonfly' was a better experience than this insanely annoying, repetitive mess. I would recommend to avoid it, unless you're a big Spyro fan, and even then this game would be suitable only for renting. Sadly, Spyro may never return to the original glory he once had when he was with Insomniac. All we can do is hope that the next developers do things right.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 07/03/08
Game Release: The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning (US, 10/10/06)
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