Review by TheMadcapLaughs
"Spyro the Dragon manages to be a great blend of compulsive gameplay and charm"
Spyro the Dragon is first of the three Spyro games on the Playstation. It is made by Insomniac and is a 3D platformer where you play as Spyro, a young purple dragon who is followed by a dragonfly called Sparx.
The story goes that Gnasty Gnorc has unleashed a hailstorm of magic upon the Dragon Kingdom turning the many dragons into crystal and scattering their treasure throughout the land as well as turning much of their treasure into monsters. These changes have allowed various areas of the world to fall into disarray with monsters takings control and using things such as machines and explosives. As Spyro, the one dragon who wasn't affected, you travel through the five dragon kingdoms collecting 12,000, saving 80 dragons, retrieving 12 dragon eggs from thieves, killing monsters and ultimately working your way to Gnasty Gnorc's fortress.
Each of the first five worlds consists of four things. First of all there is a home world. These home worlds consist of few secrets, weak enemies, a hot-air balloon to travel to other worlds (when you've retrieved enough stuff) and portals that allow you to enter levels (some of them requiring you to have retrieved enough stuff). Second is the normal levels. These vary a lot from linear to non-linear, though they are all 3D platforming, and they each hide a fiendishly hard to get little secret requiring either skill or smarts to get as well as all the usual treasure and monsters. There are four normal levels per home world. Third is the boss level. This is a quite linear normal levels which end in a fight against a boss, each of which has a different attack pattern, and each of which requires a different strategy to beat. There is one boss level per home world. Finally there is the flight level. These are hidden levels where you are given a time limit in which to fly around and complete various tasks including lighting lamps, destroying planes and flying through rings. Completing a task earns you rings and completing all the tasks in one flight will net you a bonus.
You can move Spyro around with either the D-pad or the left analog stick, the latter of which feels far more comfortable and is gives you far better control. The X button makes you jump, and pressing X again makes you glide through the air. Pressing triangle in the middle of the glide makes him stop gliding and drop to the ground. Circle makes you breathe out flames which kills unarmoured enemies, lights cannons, destroys wood, lights fireworks and many other things. Pressing square makes you go into a charge where you continuously run at about three time you walking speed. Charging can be used to kill small armoured enemies, break down doors, break metal caskets and several other things. You can spin the camera left and right with L2 and R2 and can look around with the triangle button.
The graphics are very good. The textures are nice, the colours work well and the world looks VERY lush. However sometimes things can look quite blocky, particularly Spyro's character model and some of the interactive items.
The design is very nice. The enemies rarely grow to a level of great originality, however they all have something quirky about them which charms the player and helps make Spyro's world gel together. And when enemies are original it is often humorously so, whether they are crazy doctors clad in a metal uniform as they charge headlong at you or frogs in French soldier uniforms which hide in tents and proceed to moon at you when you burn down their tents. The level design is also good. Every level has a unique environment and enemies, and most levels have their own little gimmicks whether they be fairies which make you fire strong enough to burn down metal, wizards that change any enemies they pass by, invulnerable stag beetles that force you to run to raised ground before they catch you or thieves which you can follow to reach hidden areas.
The music is fantastic and can be summarised in one word. Charming. The music ranges from simple to intricate and every world has its own music, some of which is very memorable. The music really helps you love the game and is definitely one of its high points.
The sound outside of the music is pretty average. The sound effects are good but they won't blow you away or anything. The voice acting however is rather bad. The voices of the dragons get on your nerves, and Spyro's voice feels really out of place.
This game has a lot of replay value thanks mainly to its short length (about 5-8 hours) and its overwhelming charm. Don't be surprised if you return to the game a couple years after your first playthrough in order to play it again
Overall this is a great game and is one of the true gems of the PSX library. If you like this game then make sure you get hold of Spyro: Ripto's Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon.
Gameplay = 10/10
Graphics = 9/10
Design = 10/10
Music = 10/10
Sound (Voice Acting + Sound Effects) = 5/10
Length = 5-8 hours
Replayability = 8/10
Final Score = 10/10
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/24/07
Game Release: Spyro the Dragon (Platinum) (EU, 12/31/99)
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