Flashing through ads from the late 90s and 2017/18 would see a lot more similarities than I think anyone could’ve predicted. Spyro Reignited Trilogy brings the teenage dragon’s cryogenically frozen corpse across the finish line as the very, absolute last mascot left. Besides Sir Dan. And the Battletoads. And God knows what other C-listers are to follow.
Spyro, from his represented prime, is absolutely worthy of this packaged HD remake trio. The ground was shaking when Activision gave unsettling remarks about the disc’s actual content, but this is a rock solid package.
What a shame that the Spyro games just aren’t as full as you may remember them being.
My history with the purple Nork eater is mostly with the first game with the newly designed, smooth camera and fun challenge. I loved the treasure and even read a strategy guide for the game repeatedly when I didn’t even have access to it. Proficiency tests were super boring for me – but I digress. Point being, I was always at least a little interested in Spyro because of how open the zones felt and the collectibles aspect. Spyro vs. Crash hadn’t entered my mind at the time, but looking back, I can remember wanting more to sink time into Spyro.
Despite my doom-y proclamation before, each of the Spyro Reignited Trilogy titles is beautifully realized. Just as with Crash, everything is pretty-much a 1-to-1 translation across 20 years of technological benefits. Toys For Bob has applied a finally-pointed detail brush to every stroke of this recreated adventure that basically mimics nostalgia. That’s why remasters that are done well tend to do really well. If you give old fans a view of their past again in the overbearing shine of memoric recreation, their hearts and wallets shall open.
Spyro flows in animation like an overgrown snake with a battering ram head. All old enemies and friends do the same with cartoonish bounces and stretches that all fit within a solid core set of physics. I’ve always been drawn more to Spyro as a character because he had a fairly understated personality. Everything with him is calm and yet tude-y. He was Sonic on Ritalin. That remains factual but he does have the distinct advantage of being the most interesting dragon of his realm, for what that’s worth.
The first Spyro game stands as a lesson in compact level design inside of a standard hub world. Entering a gate will throw you into a series of islands that are stitched together with hallways, enemies, and the wonderful gems. Collecting those colorful orbs of money has more of a satisfying feeling that the idea deserves on paper. It’s just another collectible, but to have them in so many places up and under your usual line of sight has you baited in every direction at once. Spyro without gem collecting would just feel empty.
Ripto’s Rage and Year of the Dragon take different approaches with the inclusion of mid-level side missions. Neither game drops the ball here, but Ripto doesn’t quite have everything woven smoothly into the experience. There’s a fair amount of back and forth through the same environment that nonetheless feels mandatory because of the completionist angle. Year of the Dragon fixes this by sealing away the side quests to side areas with side characters, quintessentially keeping side dishes as side sidely sides.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is an undeniable celebration of the early triumphs of this particular mascot, but the games themselves don’t entirely hold up. Invisible walls jut out from the same places they used to, making corners tough to navigate far too often. These will even cut off major jumps and send you plummeting into an infinite void at times. With how constrained the levels already feel, it doesn’t sit quite as well now to have so many invisible lines in the air to never cross.
The ultimate issue that nostalgia has hidden is that these are not massive experiences by any stretch. Gaming in general has a much different scope these days so I’m not asking that these be 40-hour games each. Each level just seems constrained and linear by design despite the present layers. Spyro rarely gets a chance to fully move ahead momentum either, leaving each of the three leaning negatively in opposite categories.
Not to throw too much shade at a package this wonderful, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is the best possible representation of faithful fandom. Everything is shiny and new with effort to preserve clear in every corner. Not everything is likely how you remember it through the years of mechanical evolution around us, but that doesn’t make this dragon any less fit to roar.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy Score: