Series-ous Talk – Spyro

This is another game series that I have been excited to talk about because this one was a quintessential pillar in my interest in video games. On my sister’s 11th birthday, she wanted a Playstation 2 as her present, which opened up a new world of gaming beyond the 16-bit Sega Genesis and the Game Boy Color. The first few games that we played were fun to us, but only for about a hour or so. All the games that we played had 3-D graphics, which was a visual improvement from the pixelated graphics we were used to, yet they didn’t have that special appeal to them. That was until the day we picked up a Playstation 1 title at the local video game store that changed our opinions about Playstation’s lineup.

Gameplay showing the original Spyro breathing fire, one of his many abilities.

The original Spyro the Dragon was a pivotal moment for Sony as it was one of the first titles that wasn’t intended for mature audiences. The appeal of this platfomer comes from the character design, environment, and game mechanics. The design of the character’s and their individual personalities makes for comedic, fun interactions. The design of the environments has a unique property to each of the worlds that you visit through various themes and enemy designs. The most important game mechanic is the flight system, which was designed by a NASA engineer, and the various abilities of Spyro make for gameplay that is outright fun. Not only this, the enemies were some of the first to have behavior that actually interacts with the player, i.e. taunting and running away, beyond just a static function, such as having just attack behavior. These properties hold true to Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, both of which were also lots of fun, however, I never did finish any of the games considering I didn’t have a PS1 memory card and save files from PS1 games couldn’t be added to PS2 memory cards. The PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox titles were still fun to play, as well as, the handheld games.

Screenshot of 2004’s Spyro: A Hero’s Tail

Though their were many good versions of Spyro, there are some games that didn’t quite live up to the original releases. The Legend of Spyro was supposed to be a reboot for the series, but it just didn’t hold the same appeal or dynamics that the games that came before it had. Don’t even get me started with what Skylanders did to Spyro’s credibility, believe me I could say that rant for another time. I thought that one of my childhood favorites would fall into obscurity and only be known for his current role. Then the news came that the Spyro Reignited Trilogy would have HD remakes of the original games, my expectations were set rather low as I didn’t know how the series would be make like it used to be. However, I was proved wrong and think that this HD collection of my childhood is both beautiful and nostalgic. The team responsible for the project must have been fans of the original titles as they hit all the right notes for the remakes and to that I thank them.

Comparison of Spyro Reignited Trilogy (Left) and the original Spyro the Dragon (Right). Note the graphical improvments while still retaining the original mechanics and area layouts.

This series really helped establish an interest in all kinds of video games by showing the possibility of 3-D games beyond just graphical capabilities. I hope that one day I can make titles that inspire others to build games that stick with a generation and can bounce back to the spotlight decades after their original release.

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