Happy last day of 2018! I’ve talked about Spyro before, and have played a little bit through the remaster. Today we say goodbye to 2018 with a new video game review of an old favorite ;D
For those who aren’t familiar with the original games, Spyro is a platforming game, in which you travel to different worlds gathering collectibles and solving puzzles. Spyro the Dragon was originally released for the Playstation in 1998 and was an instant hit, inspiring 3 direct sequels, a reboot series called The Legend of Spyro, and the Skylanders franchise (both of which, in my humble opinion, bear no further mention here). I grew up playing the first four games, which inspired my love of fantasy, atmospheric environments, and the color purple. Toys for Bob acquired the rights and remastered the original (or OG, as I’ll call it from here on out) trilogy in this compilation, released in October.
The good: Toys for Bob obviously put a lot of love and creative energy into the Reignited trilogy. Gameplay in Reignited is a carbon copy of the original games; if you’ve played the OG trilogy, you’ll be able to jump right into Reignited, and vice versa. But the look is completely different, in the best possible way. Each environment is scaled up to 11, with so many new details to pick out. The original PS1 environments were brightly colored and atmospheric, but also a blank slate for the player to project their own imagination onto. It’s like Toys for Bob reached back in time, into fan’s minds, to pluck out the tiny little details we added as children, to add them to Reignited. I said in my original Reignited post (linked above) that my mind knew the environments were different, but my heart didn’t know it, because it’s exactly as I pictured it in my imagination as a child. That sentiment only holds more and more true the more I play.
They also redesigned the characters. I’m forever grateful they kept Spyro close to his original, adorable design, while adding more expression and pizzazz. OG Spyro is cute as heck, but I think Reignited Spyro might be my favorite design. The dragons you rescue in the first game are all redesigned as well, with outfits matching the world you find them in. The Artisan dragons, for example, wear paint-splattered aprons, hold scrolls and quills, or bear trays of freshly baked bread. In later games, Elora, Hunter, Ripto, and everyone else sport new and improved designs. My (other) favorite redesign is Sheila the Kangaroo from Year of the Dragon! I love her hair and her little safari outfit! She’s so cute!!!
One thing that was almost universally acclaimed about Spyro the Dragon in particular was the music. Stewart Copeland, formerly of The Police, composed the original soundtrack. They did rerecord the music for the Reignited trilogy, but you have the option in the menu to switch between the Reignited music and the OG music! I have been trying to give every Reignited track a fair shot, but more often than not I end up switching to the OG soundtrack, especially during my favorite levels. For newcomers to Spyro, the Reignited music is very close to the original music, and is serviceable. However, having had the OG music on my iPod since forever, I immediately pick up on the subtle differences in the Reignited soundtrack, and I personally find it distracting. The option to switch between soundtracks is HUGE for me. I wish this option was in other remastered games for the same reason (notably, the many, many Kingdom Hearts remasters)!
The not-so-good: Loading times between levels seem much longer here than in the original games. I’m reminded brutally of the fourth Spyro game, Enter the Dragonfly, which was notorious for its long loading times. You could go into the portal to a new level, walk away from the TV, hit the bathroom, get a snack, finish some math homework, and it would still be loading by the time you got back to the TV. They also took the little “gem bloom” animation off the loading screens, where all the gems you collected would move from the top of the screen to the bottom and count in real time, which was disappointing to me. They do still count – but without the gem animation, it isn’t as fun to see your gem count go up =(
It seems also really dumb – and this isn’t a nitpick about this series, but games now in general – to spend money on the disk, only to have to download the game directly to your console. There’s also usually an update immediately after, which… why? The game is finished, isn’t it? It should be. These downloads and updates take up time and bandwidth. The initial download from this game took about 10 minutes, which is not a big deal. However, the UPDATE took 45 minutes, and that was even with the ethernet cord plugged directly into my PS4.
Now, this might just be me. But when I get a new game, I just want to pop the disk in and immediately start playing. Not to mention, it feels to me that I’m getting an unfinished product if it needs to update on launch day. It was not this way with even last gen consoles. With my PS3, I had the option to download my game to the console for faster loading, but it was optional, not mandatory like with my PS4. Having never done it, I feel like games start up and run smoother on my 6-or-7-year-old PS3 vs. my 4-year-old PS4, because not all of my PS3 storage is hogged by entire games as well as save data. I finally had to buy external storage for my PS4 to accommodate this game.
Comparing the game industry from the late ’90s and early 2000’s to today might be a bit unfair, but I genuinely miss spending my hard-earned money on a game and getting a finished product, as opposed to blocking out an extra 10-15 minutes (if not longer) for unnecessary downloads and updates before I even start playing. I expect a finished product when I spend my money on something, not a download disk.
(I should note that Reignited and SoulCalibur VI are the first new games I’ve bought for myself in almost 2 years, during which time I’ve been replaying old favorites when I’ve had time, so all this isn’t exactly new to me. I just haven’t had to deal with it in a long time!)
My biggest nitpick… Clancy Brown (you may recognize him as Lex Luthor from many DC animated shows and movies, or as Byron Hadley from The Shawshank Redemption) voiced half the dragons in OG Spyro the Dragon, but he is glaringly absent here in Reignited. This is an outrage! A travesty!! I want the option to switch between OG and Reignited voice actors as well!!! ;D
Overall, the Reignited trilogy is at once a loving homage to and a great update from the OG series. The core elements are still there: identical gameplay, lovable and adorable characters, and an atmospheric fantasy world. Reignited takes the charm and details up a couple of levels, making it delightful for old fans to discover what’s different, and new fans to discover the joy of Spyro, just as we imagined it all those years ago.
Toys for Bob. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy. 2018.