Review by Empovyle

"Wondrous things have been put in this CD..."

Spyro the Dragon~

Introduction: Spyro the Dragon is a platforming game released on the Sony Playstation in 1999. It has been paired with Crash Bandicoot as the two of the best platformers of its time.

Story: Once upon a dragon clock, two dragons were being interviewed about the dragon kingdoms. The questions were about the land and the gems, but eventually the topic switched over to Gnasty Gnorc, a hideous monster that will remind you of Shrek in some ways. One dragon mentioned his ugliness and that he is of no threat. Ol' Gnasty got sick of this dragon, pulled out his trusty mace, and cast a spell over all dragons that enslaved them in crystal. That is, except for Spyro, the little hooky-playing purple dragon. He escaped the blast of the beam and went on his journey to free all of the dragons and collecting any treasure he found on the way. Score: 8

Gameplay: The game has obviously put the most effort in this section. The game itself is very fun, but there's no real challenge shown throughout the levels. Thankfully, the control is wonderful. Pressing up moves you up, down moves you down, etc. You can't go wrong with simple controls like that. The primary button's use is to jump (exactly what a good platformer uses as it's primary button!), and jumping can change into a glide by pressing the button twice. The attacks are charging and breathing fire. Charging is mainly used to help you walk faster, but can also destroy enemies that couldn't by the fire. Fire is vice versa: it attacks big enemies that charging is useless on. There are other buttons that have an effect too, such as R1 and L1. They let you roll to escape enemies, but usually, there's no use for them since the game is easy enough as it is. Spyro doesn't defend himself, by the way. His friend, Sparx the Dragonfly, protects Spyro everywhere he goes, taking three hits before he dashes out. After he's gone, Spyro only takes one hit before he's gone, too. Eating butterflies you get from killing sheep and frogs (or other small animals) replenish Sparx' health by one point, and these small animals spawn in groups, so don't worry too much. Sometimes, especially in the Beast Maker zone, they spawn one at a time, which is the only time when it becomes an issue. There are more levels than just wandering around freeing dragons, though. There are some flight levels; you fly around a world and destroy 32 objects, usually chests or rings. When you win, you get a reward of gems. (Necessary for beating the game 100%) These levels are generally the hardest, because you are timed during it all. There are a few boss levels too, but they aren't worth your time and can easily be avoided. Half the time, you don't even know what's going on in the first place. Just flame the baddie a few times, and it's over. The camera is another thing to mention: you can control it. A breakthrough for most games of its time, believe it or not. Just press L2 or R2, and, surprise! You just fixed what most games needed, AKA rotating the camera clockwise/counter-clockwise. Score: 9

Graphics: The polygons in this game are actually quite nice for its time. Sure, there have been better, but it works just fine and looks good at the same time. There are a few minor glitches where some of the backdrop disappears from time to time, but its usually from a bad camera pose. The characters have little to no minor errors, and absolutely zero major issues. The animations of the dragons are smooth, and their designs are creative. The designs change for each world, too. Some look wild, and some look older than others. The only flaw with the dragons is when they talk--the lip-sync reminds you of a sock puppet show. Score: 9

Music: This is the best part in the whole game. All of the tracks are breath-taking on many levels, and you can't get enough. They are far better than other games of its time, without debate. Stewart Copeland has obviously put a ton of work into each of the tracks, as each theme of the song varies between zones. Magic Crafters music sounds mystical and dark, while Peace Keepers sounds like army wake-up calls and dry, arid desert themes. Each sound in every song provides appropriate life to the song to keep it alive and adds extra vividness as well. Score: 10

Sound Effects: Most of the effects used in this game are used over again when the action is repeated, such as breathing fire or charging. There aren't very many bad sound effects, but some are annoying… such as when you pick up gems. Score: 8

Play Time: You will spend a few days to a week playing Spyro, if you play it nonstop. There are plenty of levels and things to achieve, each level will last long enough before you beat Gnasty Gnorc once and for all. You'll probably spend the most time in the Flight levels, trying to beat high scores and get all of the gems. There are other long levels too, such as Tree Tops. The level is basically one huge maze with two egg thieves. You have to find the appropriate path to both of their islands.. No matter how easy it sounds, it's not a simple task, believe it or not! Score - 8

Replayability: There are plenty of gems, dragons, and eggs to keep you going even after the final fight. You'll definitely want to go back and eat up every last drop of the adventure before you bid it farewell and place it in your game collection. Then again, it won't stay there long! If there's nothing else to play, Spyro is definitely a game anyone could pick up again and get back into. Just make another save file, or keep wandering around the previous world you had. Explore and find every secret, and beat the flight level high scores. It will definitely keep you around. Score - 10

Buy or Rent? What do I pick?!: If you can find a copy, definitely don't spend ages deciding. Buy it immediately, before the game is gone! It's too much of a risk to leave behind. If you'd rather not spend that $12 or so, then rent it… if you can find a rental store with some.

Final Recommendation: Sadly, this game's review must conclude. Spyro the Dragon is definitely one of the best platformers for its time.. A perfect addition to anyone's game collection. It definitely stands out from the rest, in a good way. I recommend searching for this masterpiece and saving up some spare dollars. In fact, for the few dollars it is, I don't see how you can NOT buy it.

For a recap on the scores:

Story - 8
Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 9
Music - 10
Sound Effects - 8
Play Time - 8
Replayability - 10

Overall, the game receives a 8.8 (rounding it up to 9). Sure, it's not the best game you'll ever, EVER see, but it is worth playing and will be remembered forever…. Or at least for a very long time, by anyone who has played the Playstation before. Go pick up a copy today!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/11/12

Game Release: Spyro the Dragon (US, 09/09/98)

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