Great Games – Star Fox (1993)

North American Box Art.

I thought that I would take a moment to go back and talk about a revolutionary game from the past. Star Fox was the first game to utilize the Super FX chip, a graphics acceleration coprocessor powered Graphics Support Unit (GSU). All of the technical terminology aside, this little processor was able to create three dimensional polygons, offered advanced 2D and 3D techniques, and helped the SNES move towards a new age in video games both for Nintendo and the industry as a whole. However, I digress as the purpose of this post is to talk about this rail shooter and it’s cultural impact for video games and creating a large fan base that continues to this day. Without further adieu, let’s venture to the Lylat system and meet our favorite group of anthropomorphic Arwing pilots.

Gameplay of the typical level design found in Star Fox. Occasionally, your teammates will appear on screen to provide dialogue or if they need your help.

The plot of this game follows the members of Star Fox, a mercenary group comprised of  Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad and their leader Fox McCloud as they are tasked with defeating Andross, an evil scientist who has declared war on the home planet of Corneria. One of the most notable things that this game has been able to show was the advances in the capabilities of cartridges and the overall power that the SNES had to offer, even though the Super FX chip was built into the cartridge itself. Each level has gameplay that revolves around aerial combat with many rail shooter elements attached to this concept. These two ideas come together to create an effortless, smooth progression of each level and combat with enemies. Another interesting thing that this game brings to the table is the difficulty system that it takes advantage of. Depending on the level chosen by the player, they will be taken through a different part of the Lylat system and offers unique layouts and levels for each one. This gives a new meaning to the replayability of a video game and makes this one a different experience with each change of difficulty. Many of the gameplay mechanics themselves are quite innovative for the time, such as having a shield as the damage counter and depending on environmental obstacles will effect the handling of the Arwing and whether or not it can receive upgrades that come later in the game.

The HUD shows core components such as player’s shield, weapons, and lives as well as the current enemy health. Notice the 3-D polygons that create the ship and enemies, which was very innovative for this era.

Honestly, this is probably one of the game I was most excited to play when I got my SNES Classic, especially considering the unreleased sequel was included on the console as well. Many of the designs itself are extremely impressive and showed just how able the SNES would have been able to compete in the console market with the likes of the soon to be released Playstation. I realize that the chip itself was more pricey to produce and include in each cartridge, but it was able to give Nintendo the time to finish up on the Nintendo 64. The other games that released with the Super FX chip, such as Dirt Racer and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, took advantage of the graphical capabilities of the chip and made an impression on gamers and other developers. Every minute that I played the game, I found myself really getting into the story and feeling for my AI companions when they were being chased by enemy Arwings. When a game has the ability to immerse a player in all the elements presented, that game has achieved the purpose of what video games aim to achieve in providing some escapism from reality and put you in the position of the hero.

Screenshot of a boss encounter.

To anyone who feels as though they have lost faith in many mainstream titles and an abundance of FPS games on the market, find some solace in Star Fox and live by the motto that this game created: Do a Barrel Roll.

Hidden Gems – Dark Cloud (PS2)

North American Box Art.

Taking some time to go for the throwback of my childhood on our discussion today. Easily one of the most difficult games that I played growing up mostly due to me not knowing proper strategies and tactics to beat the first boss in the game. Years later, I finally played through the game in it’s entirety and I must say that this game deserves to be recognized. Without further adieu, let’s dive into the game that started a company’s path in the games industry.

Screenshot of Toan battling one of the enemies in a dungeon. Notice the text on screen letting the player know that their weapon is close to breaking, this is a system not many games use.

Dark Cloud was released in Japan in 2000 and later released in 2001 for the U.S. and Europe by Level-5, a developer that would later go onto to create the Professor Layton series, Ni No Kuni series, and develop Dragon Quest VIII for the Playstation 2. This action role-playing game puts in the the shoes of Toan, a boy tasked with saving his home and the rest of the world from the diabolical deeds of the Dark Genie and the Lagoon Empire Army of the East. The game has heavy RPG elements attached to the various characters you play, such as the ability to upgrade weapons with the use of elemental changing items and stat-boosters. One of the more interesting elements that this game has is that your weapons can break over time, similar to Breath of the Wild, if you don’t repair them. Much of the gameplay takes place in procedurally-generated dungeons that change each time you enter them. These areas also contain “back areas” that have additional goodies and treasure for the player if a key item is found in the dungeon. However, the most peculiar game mechanic is the “Atla”, which are magical orbs that contain people, buildings, and other components of different villages and towns. The player finds these orbs inside the dungeons and they are used to rebuild the areas torn apart by the villians in the game. When rebuilding these areas, the player can enter a mode that acts very similar to a city building game in the sense that they can choose the placement and arraignment of the buildings. Though it is not required to rebuild each area you come across, doing so will award the player for their efforts.

Screenshot of the Georama Mode, which provides the player the ability to arrange building, roads, waterways, and other terrain decorations.

This game has many aspects that make it both fun and memorable, but it still seems that may gamers seemed to pass by this title. However, an emulation of this game was ported to the Playstation 4 back in 2015, it doesn’t quite provide the same feel as the original. The story and characters you meet along the way have an effect on the player as the twists and turns of what occurs leave the player wanting to know more. All the party members have their own abilities and backgrounds that add diversity and give the player the ability to create strategies based on melee and ranged fighting styles. Not to mention that this game’s glitches are loads of fun to play around with as players have been able to access beta items and other tools that are still present in the game’s data. There is a certain quality to this game that keeps me coming back for more even after beating the game that eluded me as a kid. Games that hold that kind of charm are scarce and I only wish that more people would have played this game when it first came out.

I know that I say this with most of my posts, but if you happen to come across a copy of this game, play it. Some people like to have the original version (me) and others like to have them on more modern consoles, but I guarantee that a playthrough of this game on any consoles will still be fun as hell.

Gameplay of Xiao, one of the other party members in the game. She offers the play the use of ranged attacks giving the player different tactics and attack preferences.

Series-ous Talk – Half-Life

One of the Logos for the Series.

With the release of Half-Life: Alyx coming out at the end of this month, I thought that this series deserves the attention that it deserves. This series has always been one of my favorites in terms of the games themselves and the modding community it inspired. Without further adieu, let’s dive into this franchise that redefined the conventions of what an FPS stands for.

Screenshot of the original Half-Life showing Gordon Freeman facing off against Vortigaunts, a race that reappears throughout the franchise.

The original Half-Life was released in 1998 and was the first product to come from Valve, a studio that would later create one of the world’s most widely used video game distribution services, Steam. The gameplay itself revolves around Gordon Freeman, a scientist at the Black Mesa Research Facility, as he needs to escape following the events of a resonance cascade that causes aliens to enter our world. The game was praised for not only having many elements of horror and first-person shooter elements coupled with puzzle solving segments that helped it stand apart from other titles on the market, but it introduced scripted sequences and a unique, engaging story that helped the series develop a universe of epic proportions. The advances made with the GoldSrc engine, which was a modified version of the Quake game engine, allowed for better physics systems giving more realistic facial and skeletal animations, artificial intelligence, and a user-friendly map making tool. Valve would later release SDK tools that allowed for independent studios and developers to create their own games and assets, which resulted in the creation of Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, and Day of Defeat by these developers. The other releases during this period helped build a more rounded story, new characters, and different items that could be used. Even after being praised by critics and audiences alike, earning over 50 Game of the Year awards, and serving as a model for modern shooters, no one was ready for the next entry in the series.

Half-Life 2 (above) showed several improvements with lighting, textures, and models. All of these elements helped to create dynamic atmospheres and environments.

Despite having a large leak of the game and some delays, Half-Life 2 was released in 2004 and became quite a force in the games industry after release. The story continues with Gordon Freeman, 20 years after the events of the original release, as he must now fight the occupation of the Earth by the Combine, a race from a different dimension. This game presented the player to new environments that made use of better animations, graphics, physics, sound, AI, and narration due to the improvements of the Source engine. I would say that this game deserves to be called one of the greatest games of all time due to how it impacted the way the game industry sought to develop their games and the impact it had on the community. Much like the original game, the modding community upon the release of Half-Life 2 and the Source engine created a variety of unique assets and maps that would later become standalone titles, many of which have been cited as universal successes. The episodic release further cemented Half-Life as a game that went beyond just game mechanics, showing the power of visuals, narrative, and sound design as being important aspects to creating great games.

Screenshot from Team Fortress 2, a modification that was later adopted by Valve and turned into it’s own standalone release. The Source engine gave many developers access to useful tools that gave rise to various types of games and designs.

To anyone who has purchased the Valve Index to play the upcoming game in the franchise, which may I remind you has been over 13 years in the making, take some time to go back and play the games that started it all. Take the time to appreciate how far the series has come along and admire how these titles can still compete to modern day games.

Series-ous Talk – Metroid

Series Logo.

I haven’t talked about any game series for awhile, so today I thought about writing not just one, but two articles. I’ll be posting the second one later as I need to finish up the overall analysis. A great segway into the topic of famous game series is none other than Nintendo’s Metroid series. Let’s dive into the world of science fiction action games.

Screenshot taken from the original NES release of Metriod.

The series got its humble start on the Famicom Disk System in 1986 and later the NES in 1987 to universal praise and acclaim. We follow Samus Aran, a human bounty hunter enhanced by a cybernetic suit, as they have to defeat Metroid creatures aboard a research vessel in space. The first game definitely took influence from both Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda in creating their gameplay conventions. Many of the extensive jumping segments over various platforms was a key part of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda’s non-linear exploration makes an appearance in this game. One thing that this game revolutionized was being able to travel to the left of the screen than always moving right, granting the player the ability to backtrack and potentially find hidden items and paths in previously explored areas. It was a great game in terms of art direction, music, and the challenge it presented to players. However, no one was ready for the surprise at the end of the game as the protagonist is revealed to be female. To me, this is what setup for future games to feature female protagonists in video games due to their being hardly any female leads during the infancy of the games industry. Not only was the original game creating new opportunities for game mechanics, but also granting more diversity in the who could be considered the hero in a video game.

Screenshot from Super Metroid. Notice the improvements to the graphics and noticeable mini map in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

After the original game was released, it would be a few years until the release of Super Metroid on the SNES, which was been stated as one of the greatest games of all time. This game puts more focus and emphasis on the exploration of the game world as players need to find power ups in these areas to reach previously inaccessible areas. Some new features that this game presented was having a mini map, an inventory system, and finally Samus has the ability to fire in every direction similar to Contra. Again this game was praised for it’s graphics, music, and gameplay. This game has become rather popular for speedrunning and has been feature for virtual download on various platforms over the years. Metroid Prime was released for the Nintendo Gamecube and help move the direction of the series over to 3-D in 2002. The game again won massive critical and commercial success and have been placed as one of the best video games of all time. It won several Game of the Year awards and has gotten an enhanced release in 2009 in both Japan and North America. In short, there have been many game conventions that this game has created, which have become standard in the games industry making this one of the most influential game series of all time.

Metroid Prime gameplay, which shows many aspects of an FPS, but Nintendo still considers the game first person adventure game.

I would say that everyone should try to play a Metroid game in their life, both from a developer and casual gamer standpoint. There are many design choices and aspects that people interested in becoming a game designer could learn a lot from. Even regular players could play through this game and have fun through the work that has been put into this long standing franchise.

Great Games – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

North American Box Art.

I realize that I have done a Zelda title as a Great Games category entry, but many of these series entries are good examples of game design techniques and of innovation. I promise the next time that I have to write about a Zelda game, it will be in the Series-ous category. Without further delay, let’s talk about the best Nintendo 64 and Legend of Zelda title (this is just my personal opinion, don’t @ me).

Link jumping down inside the Forest Temple, one of the many dungeons found within Ocarina of Time.

The Nintendo 64 was a very defining moment for the games industry and Nintendo as whole as the move from 2-D games to 3-D showed huge strides in innovation and design concepts. However, there was something about this title that stood out for the series and the approaches to create a believable world the player can interact with. Ocarina of Time held true to the art design, storytelling, and mechanics that previous titles had developed but exemplified them through the new console generation. You could spend hours playing this game to complete all the side quests, get all the items and collectibles, and set all the time records, yet find yourself restarting from the beginning once the game is complete. That factor of replay ability alone is a huge draw and makes this game able to compete with titles on the market right now.

Link playing the Ocarina of Time, which is controlled by the user. Many of the songs in the game cause different effects to take place in the environment or aid the player in some way.

The mechanics that this game created are some of the most important and reused concepts in later titles. The Z-Targeting mechanic is the one that sticks out the most from this game. The ability to have Link move around an object or enemy while having the camera follow the target in focus made for a unique combat system. The context-sensitive allowed more multiple actions to be applied to one button, which simplified the control scheme overall. The concept of using the Ocarina and having it be useful in solving puzzles and progressing through the game was fun to play around with and made use of music/rhythm in design mechanics. One of the first times that we see horse riding appears in this game with the controls feeling as though you are riding a real horse, but doesn’t have that same effect that the horse controls of Twilight Princess bolstered. The jumping through different phases of time allowed the player to view different perspectives, items, and interactions that offer extra to the story and dungeon design. Speaking of dungeons, the ones found in OoT are some of the most memorable that the series has offered. Each theme making them unique and the mini-bosses and dungeon bosses all had interesting AI and methods to beating them, especially Dark Link.

Link facing off against Dark Link, who has some of the most complex AI out of any other enemy in the game. Z-Targeting is also in focus, notice the four yellow triangles that lock on to your target.

I put this game in these conventions because of everything that has been come from this game has been regarded by critics and fans as some of the best video game play ever made. Nintendo held nothing, beyond hardware restrictions, back when it came to giving the justice and proper view that the series had always worked to achieve. I played this game nearly 20 years after it’s release and I still think that it is better than many games that we have on the market currently. Using this game as a focal point for teaching game design and development or prompting video games as an art can be truly said for many titles that came out during this time, including Super Mario 64, another N64 title that is beautifully designed. I highly recommend playing this game on any system you may have whether it be an N64, Gamecube, or 3DS and I guarantee you will become a fan of the Legend of Zelda, if you are not already.

Hidden Gems – Mirror’s Edge

North American Release Box Art

Just as a quick disclaimer, I realize that this game is not that obscure as many gamers know the name, but it is largely overlooked despite its positive reception. That is why I decided to categorize it as a Hidden Gem, but I could say that it is also a Great Games category contender. However, since I haven’t done a Hidden Gem game in awhile this one will be used and if there are any objections this is my blog, my rules. On that note, let’s dive into talking about this sleeper hit from 2008.

Balancing on pipes is one of many obstacles the player must face. Take note of the red color on the pipe, which is done to help players understand where they should head towards to progress forward.

Mirror’s Edge is a first-person action-adventure game set in a dystopian society, where you pursue the role of Faith Conners, a courier that works to transfer data without the government’s interference. While this game boosts elements of a first person shooter, like many major titles of its time, this game is set apart by the movement elements found in the gameplay. Inspired by real world free-running and parkour, players are able to perform a variety rolls, jumps, wall-runs, and the like to navigate this urban environment. The art direction for this game is minimalist as players are not going to pay much attention to their surroundings as they have to flee from the police and other pursuers. However, the choice of using stark white mixed with other colors creates an atmosphere that feels very futuristic, while retaining elements that still keep it relative to a current time period. As I mentioned previously, you are able to fire weapons in this game, but there is a hand-to-hand combat system that the player can use to disarm and neutralize their targets. The level designs and platforming segments create a sense of uniqueness to each area you visit and present players with various avenues for progressing forward.

Faith performing a takedown on a PK officer. After successfully completing this sequence, the player will be able to wield the gun or ditch it and keep running.

Personally, I feel as though this game doesn’t get the credit that it’s due. Considering that most major titles at the time of this game’s release were FPS games shows that this one stuck out among them. The concept and execution were done very well, but it feels as though other titles by DICE, such as Battlefield, overshadowed the potential that this game had. Though their was a subsequent reboot of this game that release in 2016, it didn’t have the same effect that this game bolstered when it released. Besides these things, I really enjoyed my playthrough of this game, even if I had times when I just couldn’t stick the landing. The feeling of being free and jumping between rooftops is invigorating and learning about Faith as the game progresses and her relationship to the other “runners” felt very natural. Honestly, I would have rather seen this game get an HD re-release in favor of an overall reboot, but a boy can dream.

The minimalist art design and color palette prevents the player from becoming distracted in high-octane situations.

To anyone who has a Steam account, PS3, or Xbox 360 on hand, I highly recommend playing this title if you happen across one. Having games that are still ripe with potential as this one, nearly 12 years after it’s release, is quite a feat considering how ever-evolving the games industry is.

Great Games – The Stanley Parable

Art for the Game.

With the release of The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe coming this year, I thought that it would be a good time to highlight this peculiar title. Though it started life as a modification for Half-Life 2, the standalone remake boosts a more detailed story and an improved engine that offers a more diverse, unique experience. On that note, let’s get talking about Stanley and his narrated existential crisis.

Stanley just needs to follow the “Adventure Line”, one of many paths a player can take while playing through the game.

Conceived as an interactive drama and walking simulator hybrid, this game follows the perspective of Stanley, a man who has to traverse through a surreal workplace environment. As the player moves through this game, a narrator provides exposition for the events they come across. Gameplay consists mainly of either following what the narrator says Stanley is going to do or choosing to ignore the narrator. Most of the player’s actions invovle interacting with the environment, no combat to be found in this game, which is surprising considering most games that came out of Half-Life modifications are heavily based on the shooter components of the game engine. This sets up for comedic results of disobeying orders and sometimes finding yourself in Minecraft or Half Life style environments. There are so many outcomes that are possible you will find yourself having a new experience with each playthrough. Breaking the fourth wall is by far the most quintessential piece to creating the comedy and altering of conventions that make this game stand out from other titles.

With a player’s ability to chose to follow the narrator or not, some interesting results can ensue.

Why this game is so interesting is the fact that it challenges the standard conventions of rules defined for a player in a video game. While most games have a static set of rules that are followed from day one, The Stanley Parable’s gameplay and narrative gave a new way to creating an interactive story. The sense of predestination and choice is something that players are able to change for themselves, similar to how sandbox games like Minecraft or Garry’s Mod give a player the opportunity to make their own adventure. It’s because of this that I believe games like ICEY, Firewatch, and Gone Home were able to be created as they have similar concepts found in the Stanley Parable and are all acclaimed games. The Stanley Parable was very much a game that helped in redefining the narrative formula that the game industry had become so accustomed to.

You may think your playing Minecraft, but it is still very much The Stanley Parable!

To anyone who hasn’t played this game yet, I would say either hop on Steam and buy it now, or wait until the Ultra Edition comes out for consoles as it is stated that there will be more content to be added.

Obscure Gaming – Metropolismania

Box art for the North American Release (Metropolismania) and European Release (Metropolismania 2). Note that both games release in Japan, North America, and Europe.

Even though this category is reserved for single title releases, this post will cover two games under this franchises title. Though there was a third release, it was a Japan exclusive and I don’t have any hands-on experience with this title to say much more about it. On that note, let’s get into talking about this little known title for the Playstation 2.

Image showing gameplay of the first Metropolismania. The blue tile beneath the player corresponds to where they want to place the building that corresponds to the flip book you see on the left.

Metropolismania, which is the first game of this lineup, is a city building strategy game. Think of SimCity, but with more interaction between the player and NPCs. The plot of the game follows you starting your career as a city builder and your job revolves around creating cities that grow to certain populations, or other requirements to make the city a success, such as having a percentage of the populations and buildings focused on agriculture, business, etc. Playing the game allows you to walk around and explore the town you create, as well as, talk with other NPCs, buy things from stores/restaurants, and some random events that occur in each town. The interaction system in this game is vital as increasing your friendship with others allows the player to find out more information on new citizens and can help you solve complaints. As I just mentioned, the further you develop your town, the greater the chances are that you will receive complaints from the townspeople. Complaints range from not having enough roads, being too far from certain establishments, or too much noise in certain areas to name a few. The player needs to be able to solve these complaints otherwise people will start to move away from your city. The first game has an approval meter that shows how well you are running the town and if it gets to a certain percentage, you will begin to receive an influx of calls from people or businesses that want to move there. I thought that this game was pretty fun while I played through, but I did find that it had a limited amount of business types, NPC personalities, and ways to customize your player. However, these problems were solved with the release of the sequel years after.

Gameplay from Metropolismania 2, take note of the different to character and building design. The colors on the left serve a similar function to the flip book that we saw in the image above with colors representing building types.

Meteropolismania 2 revolves around a similar plot and game play structure with some notable differences. One of the biggest changes to the game is the art design and style of characters/environments. While the original had more overly exaggerated cartoon designs for characters, the sequel tones this down to fit more of an anime quality. This version still has an approval meter, but it won’t give you an surge of calls like the original. Instead the purpose of it now serves as more of an rating that your boss gives you and helps to determine if you get a raise or not. The other thing to note is that this game features real world establishments, such as MOS Burger, Yoshinoya, and maid cafes, all of which are very popular in Japan. I would have to say that I prefer this game over the original, but major media outlets panned this game in favor of the original. Either way you stretch it, these games are actually lots of fun to play. The strategic elements gives a challenge for players, while also giving them the opportunity to customize their avatar to fit their personality. The variety in NPC occupations, interactions, and traits makes it feel fresh, no two gameplays are going to be alike. I spend lots of time playing this myself and watching my sister, who was much better than me at building these cities.

Side-by-side of Metropolismania (Left) and Metropolismania 2 (Right) to show difference in GUI, character design, and art style.

Overall, I think that people were too quick to judge this game and that it can just be fun without being like other city building games. I would say if you ever run across a copy of this game, don’t hesitate to buy it. You will have lots of fun building a city and holding lively conversation with your virtual citizens.

Great Games – Donkey Kong Country

North American Box Art

This game was one that I had always heard about, but I never had a Super Nintendo growing up. However, the day that I acquired an SNES classic, I got my opportunity to playthrough this graphically defining platformer.

Donkey Kong riding Rambi, one of the “animal friends” found throughout the game.

There are many design choices that make this game quite memorable and starter a new approach to looking at platformer titles. The most obvious design feature would be the rendered 3D sprites on a 16-bit console. The game had more realistic nature to the characters and items throughout the environments that really appealed to the eyes. The active life bar of using Diddy Kong to show low health was a new, interesting approach to the traditional life meter that many platformers used even after the original Super Mario Bros. The inclusions of partners to help you clear levels and the various bonus rooms found throughout the game all have unique characteristics and personalities, which always makes for challenging level designs. While on the topic of level designs, the nearly 40 side scrolling areas all have elements and art assets that make them interesting to explore and give more diversity to this game. I especially appreciated their designs being that of ecosystems, which explains the choices for where certain enemies will appear. The enemies and boss designs hold true to this idea of the diversity in level designs as no two enemies are alike. The music composed for this game fits extremely well and the track Aquatic Ambiance speaks for itself throughout any of the water levels.

Donkey Kong’s swimming animation in one of the water themed levels.

Overall, the design choices made for Donkey Kong Country is one of the reasons why it became the third best selling game of all time on the Super Nintendo and widely regarded as one of the best video games of all time. Rare was able to imagine an already well established character it something more by creating a unique set of abilities and further expanding upon his capabilities as hero instead of an antagonist.

Donkey Kong faces one of the game’s bosses in order to reclaim is banana horde.

I would highly recommend anyone who has a Super Nintendo or an SNES classic to play this game once and appreciate how a game from 25 years ago stills holds its own against today’s market of video games.

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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