Review by SCCAN85

"Another mascot .... oh brother! ... Wait! This one is pretty good!"

INTRO

A new mascot comes into the world of Playstation, but can he compare to Crash Bandicoot, Lara Croft (I can't believe she's considered to be a mascot), Croc, or even Gex!? Well, first off I doubt any of those guys are considered mascots of Playstation other than Crash, but I am not sure. Anyway, to answer the question yes! Yes, this new mascot can hold his ground and if anyone messes with him he'll burn you to a crisp ... literally! This new mascot is none other than Spyro the dragon! My friend kept telling me that this game was great, but I never felt like dishing out $20 for it (so I'm cheap) so I finally found a buddy of mine who had it. I asked him if I could borrow it and of course he let me. Then I began to play a game that is full of entertainment! That game is just as the name of the hero is; Spyro the Dragon. Spyro the Dragon is made by Insomniac and was made in 1998. It's an adventure game in a 3D world much like to Mario 64. Spyro may seem like just a little dragon, but the adventure that awaits him proves to be one of the biggest yet! Before I begin I would like to tell everyone out there, please do not avoid this game simply because you think it's for kids. I can assure you that it is fun, which is all that matters right? Anyway, even if you are 20, 30, or even 40 and above who still likes video game, please don't count this one out because for this game age is not an option. You'll make a big mistake if you avoid this series, and not just this but any adventure or RPG game which may seem "too kiddish." Now, onwards with the review!

STORY: (6/10)

Ouch! That score seems pretty harsh but I am being fair. The games presentation and opening does nothing really to the story. All it shows is this fellow named Gnasty Gnorc who turns all these dragons into statues and steals all there treasures simply because he hates them. At least, when I played that's all I was shown about the story. Then, there is only one dragon who did not get turned into stone and that is the young and lovable dragon Spyro along with his firefly friend to protect him. All right, we understand the concept of the game; save friends and retrieve treasure right? Well, pretty much that is all you do but I'll give you a bit more insight on the way the game is set up as well because it does connect to the story. There are tons of different races and species. Of course, Spyro comes from the land of dragons. He has to go through each world filled with different types of species and get all the dragon treasure as well as saving his friends because they are spread out through this vast 3D world which you are allowed to explore. Other than that there is nothing much to the story and I feel that it doesn't bring much, doesn't make you want to hate Gnasty and you don't even get to know the relationship of Gnasty and the dragons, so my honest score is a six.

GAME PLAY: (9/10)

Now here is where the game really shines! This is a flat out awesome adventure game and as Spyro you begin the world of dragons. As Spyro, since you already know what the objectives of the game are, you go through each level completing what needs to be done. There are about six worlds where Spyro goes through in this adventure to save all of his friends. In those six worlds are six levels. Four of the levels are the main levels which contain a certain amount of treasure which needs to be collected and a certain amount of trapped dragons which needs to be rescued, then one of the levels is the boss of that world along with one dragon and some treasure. Then the bonus level is a flying level where Spyro flies around the level and has to accomplish certain tasks. Here, there are four different items (trains, planes, treasure chests, arches, etc.) and Spyro has to either go through them, break them, or touch those items in order to get them. There are eight of those items in each place, so there are a total of 32 things that Spyro must get. Once getting all those it is worth 60 points as treasure. Other than that, there is one other thing he must do in that level, he must get all those items in one round. Sounds easy? Well, it isn't because you are timed and whenever you get an item it adds some time to the time meter. That's the layout of how the game is. Now how are the levels like? Let's see ....

Levels

Since you already know what to do, this is going to be very simple to explain. In each level, there is a certain amount of monsters, dragons, and treasure. However, in some levels there are dragon eggs which you need to get as well in order to get 100% in some levels. They aren't in every level, but they are in some. Thieves are the ones who have the dragon eggs and when rescuing a dragon you will learn more about it. The monsters and treasure go along together because Gnasty made those monsters out of the dragon treasure which he stole. So in each level you have to destroy all the monsters in order to get a 100% for that level. Each level is in 3D so the camera will bug you and there may be gems which are at the foot of a cliff that you did not see, so you will definitely need to explore a lot. Also, the dragons are save points after you rescue them and when you do rescue them they sometimes give you very helpful hints on how to get a certain treasure chest that may be locked, or a boss that is hard to beat. Now, for what you really need to know about the levels and the game in general is Spyro. What can he do? Well, his actions are pretty basic but this game has a lot of things in which you will have to use those abilities you have to the fullest! First of all, Spyro can breathe fire so he can flame monsters by blowing fire. Also he has horns and is pretty fast so he can charge at the opponent or barrels and take them out. That takes care of offense so what else does he do? He can glide! This may not sound impressive but each level has long jumps and hills that require Spyro to glide and reach. Now for defense, Spyro has a little buddy named Sparx who protects him; he is a firefly (pretty amazing huh?). Anyway, Sparx takes three hits for Spyro until he dies, but what he loves to eat and keeps him healthy are butterflies. Now you know how Spyro is, what the levels are like, and what to do. Seems like we're done here :). Oh! Wait a minute we aren't because I haven't explained my score yet. I love this game a lot and think it's really fun but it does get a bit repetitive. Each level has the same concept and after the first world you already know what to expect. Surprises is what this game falls short on and it is a little repetitive, but I still like it a lot. However, I can't give it a 10 because of that.

CONTROLS: (7/10)

Here is where the game goes a bit downhill. These controls aren't perfect for an adventure game and they usually irritate me personally. The configuration set up is all right, but the controls are weak and the camera pisses me off sometimes. If pressing the directional button left along with charging, you go into a 360 spin and that is really lame and that bugs the hell out of me if I'm trying to get away from monsters. The configuration is pretty easy; flame is O, X is to jump, Square is to charge and Triangle hovers at the end of a glide and is also a free look for Spyro. Pressing X again at the top of a jump causes a glide. The top buttons (L1, R1, L2, R2) are used to shift the camera although the camera sucks big time. The camera has a hard time following you and if you go to fast it speeds up and then if you turn it turns hard as well and goes a bit past you. Then sometimes when trying to adjust a perfect glide in order to reach somewhere the camera may bug you and face above you or to the side which isn't what you want. Let's just put it this way, you have to do a bit extra work to make the camera perfectly where you want it and for an adventure game it shouldn't be like that, especially with 3D. Overall, the controls are pretty decent but the camera pisses me off and sometimes the controls aren't as responsive as I'd like them to be.

MUSIC/SOUNDS: (8/10)

Nothing special here really? I personally enjoy some of the tracks; especially the intro theme. It just has a nice beat and sets the adventure feel to the game. Some tracks for example, the marshes, really showcase the gloominess in the level and it even reminds me of the Donkey Kong games on the Super Nintendo. Some of the tracks aren't too memorable and some have a really good beat that are nice to listen to while frying some monsters a double s. Some songs use the instruments well and the second home world you go to has a very nice army feel to the level (which it is like) and has a great drum roll. However, less than half of the tracks in the game are memorable which is why I don't consider it perfect but I do love many songs in this game.

The sounds are as good as the music, but they are some minor flaws with the sounds. First, I'll begin with the good. The sound effects are really accurate for the most part, and they are clear as well. The sound of Spyros feet when charging is great and very accurate, then the sound of a breath of fire sounds pretty accurate as well. Also, the sound of sheep bouncing around and the sound of when Sparx eats a butterfly are all extremely accurate and sounds good. I have no problems with the sounds except for Spyros and some of the dragons voices. That is some bad voice acting, but I have grown to accept Spyros young voice. In terms of audio, this game is above average but doesn't exceed to the fullest. Overall, the music and sounds of Spyro the Dragon are great, but not perfect.

GRAPHICS: (8/10)

So the game is fun, the controls are decent and the audio is pretty good. Well, how about the graphics? First off I've never even heard of Insomniac, but Universal is also responsible for the making of Spyro as well as Sony. Anyway, they've developed some pretty decent graphics because it isn't ugly at all however it isn't the greatest thing that I've seen. Don't worry either because I'm judging it up to the standards of when it was made, which is why the score is the way it is. The whole 3D look to the game is great and that is a definite plus. The pigments on the characters and the backgrounds are great and really create a fun and colorful environment in all the worlds. The colors depict the mood of the scenery, in the first world where it is supposed to be happy, it is covered with grass and nice white stone wall along with the beautiful sky overhead. Yeah it sounds corny, but the colors set off the mood great; i.e., swamp has gloomy colors of dark green, black, gray, blue, and other colors that make the environment seem gloomy. Desert levels show red, orange, peach, and other colors to show off the heat. Now we all know that this isn't the first time colors do that; that's what art is all about and Spyro the Dragon has some unique and detailed art. Character designs are great as well. In most adventure games, the designers tend to reuse the same main idea of a body for the enemies. This is not shown too much in Spyro because the enemies are varied in different worlds. Sure most of them may look like ... Gnorcs but that's cause of the world. In each world there are a few different designs of characters which sets off the variety. Also, Spyro looks great! He just looks good according to the design and so does Sparx although you can't really tell I suppose. The backgrounds are good too, but there is some repetitiveness in the levels. Most of them are different but contain the same materials, same colors, same designs although it's pretty detailed enough to make up for that. The lining on the bricks on the walls as well as the designs on the walls along with a few cracks sets off the description of the backgrounds. Just to finish it off now, the graphics are pretty good but can be a bit repetitive and some of the backgrounds look a bit blocky.

CHALLENGE: (2/10)

Yes, this game is way too easy or it just may be me. I don't feel as if the game was very difficult, but it did have its moments. Having to get all the gems in the levels may seem easy, but when you think you are done with the level only to find you are missing one, two, or even five gems gets a little irritating. The dragons aren't hard to find at all and I feel that this game is more fun than it is difficult. The levels may be the only difficult thing about the game, but not too many. Some are really tough in terms of getting 100% in but they can be beaten. The bosses are seriously a joke and not to spoil you or anything, but most of them are flat out wusses. The final boss only takes two, yes two hits to defeat and those two hits aren't long to get. Oh well, even if this game may have been directed towards kids, the game is still fun despite the difficulty.

REPLAY: (6/10)

There really isn't too much to do after you've beaten the game. Not to brag, but on my first run through the game I beat it with 120% which is the maximum amount you can get. I admit I used FAQs because some things you have to get in the levels are pretty tough to get. Other than that the game was a walk through the park, but a very fun walk :). There is a bit of replay value but not in a sense that you come back to it weeks later. This replay I'm talking about is immediate and that is one level which allows you to get 120% instead of just 100% total. There's nothing else to make you want to play again unless you feel like playing through a level quickly because (and I do mean this) this game is really fun. Overall, the replay value is slightly above average.

PROS

- A new type of adventure to the Playstation!
- New mascot; Spyro rules!
- Excellent game play; fun filled!
- Good audio and graphics set the tone of the game.

CONS

- Could use a better presentation into the game; especially better introduction to Gnasty.
- Controls are quirky and the camera views can easily make someone turn this game off.
- Game play gets somewhat repetitive and can draw away interest.

SCORES

STORY - 5.6
GAME PLAY - 9.4
CONTROLS - 6.9
MUSIC/SOUNDS - 8.0
GRAPHICS - 8.3
CHALLENGE - 2.4 (low)
REPLAY - 5.5 (medium)

TOTAL (Not an average) - 7.4/10

OUTRO: (7/10)

I am truly impressed with the works of Insomniac and Universal for creating Spyro. I have played Spyro 2 and I love it; if you are wondering how the game is look forward to my review on it coming soon. Now I am curious about how good the newest Spyro is: Spyro Year of the Dragon. I personally like Mario and Crash Bandicoot the best for adventure games, but now with this game Spyro has been added to my list. The game is one of the most fun I've played in a while and I wish I could've played this earlier. I hope the 3rd installment to the Spyro series is good and hopefully a fourth one will arrive on the PS2 soon, because that could show a lot of promise. This is only about $20 now at any local store and I think it is considered a greatest hit. It sure is one and I definitely recommend a purchase. If you are still unsure, contact me for more information or just rent it; that would be the best thing to do and then decide from there. Thanks for reading and have a nice day!


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/14/01, Updated 04/14/01


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