Review by Cyril

"Best. Platformer. Ever."

Ah how was my cute little purple dragon? How have you been? You were gone for a while, and I thought there wouldn't be another of you. hat thought made me so sad. But when I found out you were coming back, I wondered: How the hell could the series get any better, AND remain innovative and fresh? Well, I don't know how the hell Insomniac did it, but they did. And the experience is one that will capture your heart for days and days.

To begin, you get something totally shocking: More then one character to control! There is a kangaroo named Sheila, a flying penguin (er..?) named Sgt. Byrd, Bently the Yeti, and Agent 9, a Space Monkey. Thats one weird cast of characters. Each of them have their own abilities, and are widely diverse in their strengths and weaknesses. Now, before I go on, make note that you can only play as these characters in levels specified for them, but, luckily, there are a LOT of those. Your main character is still Spyro. Each of these characters, Shiela, Sgt Byrd, Bently, and Agent 9 all have different styles of play. Sheila has a very high hop, so all her levels are fought on high ledges. Bently is a huge yeti, so naturally he is slower, but he is also physically strong. He wields a giant club that he pounds things with. Bently Mad! Bently Smash! Sgt. Byrd is, obviously, the flyer of the group, and can fly up, down, around, and just about everywhere. He also has some HUGE cannons on his shoulders that can hit from 30 meters or so. yay. The Space Monkey, Agent 9, plays somewhat like a 3D action game. Almost exactly, actually. His levels are not a normal Platform type of game levels, they are almost all out action. Sometimes, it is also like a first person Shooter. And hell, one of the single best parts of this game: Sparx gets his own levels. And they actually power him up, and give him new abilities, as well as getting an egg.

Next comes the sounds. Perfect. Seriously, everything fits perfectly. The Kangaroo has an Austrailian accent, even. Spyro retains his same voice, as does Moneybags and Hunter. But all the new characters, which there are a lot of have excellent voices as well. The music is cheery, soft, and somewhat jazzy. Sometimes it can be a little slow though. Lastly in the sound category: Sound Effects. From the fire Spryo breathes, to the comments you get if Bently smashes his little brother, they are all awesome.

Graphics wise, Spyro: Year of the Dragon is gorgeous. Spyro's, and all of the other characters are smooth and flawless. Each character has facial expressions, and their body movements are quite real. You gotta love how Spyro cringes in some of the movies. The levels are the true beauty of Spyro, though. Each level is widely diverse, from a level of Crystals, where magic runs rampant, to a deep pyramid. Hell, there's even a level that makes fun of Tomb Raider.

The game play in Spyro: Year of the Dragon is where the game truly shines. While it is like the normal Spyro game play, there are some changes. To begin, your goal is to collect all those poor baby dragons that this evil witch stole all the baby dragon eggs. EVIL woman! They are all so cute, too. From there, Spyro goes out into the lands where magic is fading away and is soon to die off completely. As I stated earlier, there are multiple characters, and each character is widely diverse, adding to the all around awesome factor. Another great thing, is the complete variety of different mini-games. There are literally hundreds to do, since you have to find 150 Eggs. Finding everything in this game is a chore, even to the most hardcore Spyro fans. Like in 2, you can also use Gems to buy abilities. Luckily, Spyro still retains all of his climbing, headbash, and swimming abilities from Ripto's Rage.

Also fun, the story is probably the best story in any platformer EVER. You, as Spyro start off a new year. But this is a special year. This is the year of the Dragon. That means that all the baby dragonlings are going to hatch and the world is going to be filled by even more dragons. (I so want one of those baby dragons as a pet!) But this year, something bad has happened. A woman has stolen all the baby dragon! That ****!!!!! All my poor dragons...I was going to make coa--, er anyways, she steals the dragon eggs. And Spyro has to go and get them back. Now, while this may seem like a boring story, there are a LOT of cut scenes in this game, and they tell the story very well.

And lastly, controls. Actually, a lot of games need to learn from Spyro's controls. They are awesome. A small movement of the Analog stick, and you go that direction. I think maybe once or twice I have gotten mad at the controls. But that was during a mini game. And even on most mini-games the controls are great.

All in all, Spyro: Year of the Dragon is an awesome game. PLEASE, PLEASE dont get turned off by this game because of the little kiddy graphics. In the end, thats where most gamers will by turned off by. Give Spyro a chance, its definitely worth it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/06/03, Updated 06/06/03

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