Review by Tenshi No Shi
"Same system, new mascot..."
And the award for most mascot attempts on a single console goes to *drum roll* the Playstation! Seriously, they have Crash Bandicoot, they've adopted Lara Croft and Sweet Tooth, they tried to add the undead hero from MediEvil, and now Spyro is making a go at it. What are they thinking? I mean, when you think of Nintendo, you think of Mario (and maybe Pikachu); when you think of NEC, you think of Bonk; and when you think of Sega, you think of Sonic. Why all the mascots Sony? Anyway, Spyro the Dragon is the latest mascot/platform game to arrive on Sony's wonder machine, and this is its review.
As Spyro, a young dragon that can't even really fly, you have to rescue fellow dragons from their enslavement as statues. You flame your way through vast and open 3D levels in search of gems and the entrance to new levels. For some strange reason, you have to fry innocent herds of sheep in order to keep the health up on your little sprite-like companion. Truly a strange, strange tale.
Though the graphics seem simple, Spyro the Dragon actually has some rather impressive 3D models. Everything has a distinct cartoonish look that few other games have successfully achieved. Thought the textures are simple, colors are bright and vibrant, and animation is detailed and constant. Unfortunately, because of the simpler textures, details are, more often than not, lost against the hazy background. It doesn't detract too much from the game, but it's definitely noticeable. The camera is actually quite good, except when Spyro runs and turns, it has to play a little catch up.
Voiced by the same man that lends word to the Taco Bell dog, Spyro's certainly got the power of speech. Unfortunately, Spyro just sounds like a little kid, and a very not-funny one at that. What's worse is Spyro sounds out of place compared to his bigger brothers. The sound effects are just above average, some good, some bad, and some unidentifiable. The music is uninspired and very unmemorable; leaving you hard pressed to even remember a single track an hour after shutting it off. Basically, it all boils down to a barely average effort by the sound department.
I can usually tolerate the control of almost any game, but Spyro the Dragon really tested my patience. While the layout of the controls is actually quite comfortable, the way they handle is another matter entirely. If I had to use one to describe them, it would have to be 'sloppy'. Spyro seems to turn almost lazily while running. While I don't expect him to spin on a dime, I would like Spyro to face the direction I want without running a lap to get there. Also, it's sometimes hard to judge when Spyro will stop, as he tend to take a few extra steps when you are no longer pressing up on the pad. This is particularly annoying while trying to jump from platform to platform.
Despite all my complaints about this game, I think it is a really well designed adventure. Though I felt I was just wandering about most of the time, only to happen upon my goal, the game doesn't pressure you to 'hurry up'. This allows you the freedom to explore and find as many secrets or gems as you'd like, without the tension of a time limit. The game also has a unique and almost appealing look to the characters and levels, giving the whole game a uniform style that makes it flow seamlessly together from one area to the next.
I really know of no bonuses to this game, having only played through the essential parts needed to beat it. Well, I guess I shouldn't say that I know of no bonuses, as I do know of one. If you put in a special code, you get to play a preview of Crash 3: Warped. While this may not really seem like a big deal now that Crash 3 is out, it was a kinda cool discovery at the time.
I'm sure many people out there just love this game, but I personally have touched it since I beat it. That's not to say its a bad game, it just didn't hold my interest enough to play though it and find everything that needed to be found. People looking for a more relaxed game might want to check into it, otherwise you should rent before you buy.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 07/05/02
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