A review by Rebecca Fleming
Release date: October 1998 (PS1), December 2012 (PSN)
Format: Digital download (PSN)
Other platforms: PSP, PS3
Price: $7.35 AUD
Spyro the Dragon is a game that I have a lot of nostalgic love for. I have many fond memories of my childhood at my grandparents’ house, perched in front of their TV playing Spyro the Dragon for hours on end (I love dragons and I love the colour purple; I couldn’t NOT become addicted to the game). Part of what pushed me over the line into buying a Vita was the knowledge I’d be able to play one of my favourite games on the go.
Spyro the Dragon is the first game in a trilogy. You can buy each of them individually for $7.35, or you can do what I did and download the trilogy for just under $15. This review is just for the first game; I will review the other two at a later date.
Storywise, Spyro the Dragon is pretty straight forward. After watching an interview in which a dragon makes fun of him, the game’s villain, Gnasty Gnorc, casts a spell across the Dragon Kingdom, freezing all the dragons into crystal statues. Well, almost all of them; Spyro avoids being hit because he’s only small. So it’s up to him to travel through the realms, freeing the dragons and battling Gnasty’s minions (as well as collecting treasure and recovering stolen dragon eggs along the way). Completing the main story took about 6-7 hours. I think getting all the collectibles brought my playing time up to about 9-10 hours.
Gameplay is mostly fairly easy apart from a few tricky levels later on. I remember getting royally stuck on some of them as a child but, playing it again recently, I don’t think I ever died more than 2-3 times even in the most challenging levels. Spyro’s companion, Sparx the Dragonfly, acts as your health meter; after he takes three hits, he disappears, and if you are hit a fourth time, you lose a life. The sections I found most challenging were those where precise timing was required for gaining speed and pressing the button at the right second in order to make long distance glides over chasms (and not nailing it resulted in instant death).
The controls are simple, although sometimes I had issues where the camera didn’t follow me properly, meaning I couldn’t see where I was going or if enemies were approaching me in small spaces. Though most of the levels are standard platforming, there are a few levels where you need to fly around and meet certain objectives (eg smashing 8 chests, flying through 8 rings) within the time limit without crashing.
I thought the music suited the levels well and was generally nice to listen to, even if some tracks did start to feel repetitive fairly quickly. The graphics are exactly the same as they were on the original PS1, and while they looked just fine on the Vita’s small screen, I suspect if you played them on a larger screen with a PS3, there might be a noticeable drop in quality (I don’t have a PS3 so I can’t say for certain).
Spyro the Dragon is a fun and solid platformer and worth getting on PSN, even if you played it on the PS1 many years ago. And, honestly, how can you not love that little purple dragon?