Home > Chronological Challenge > Chronological Challenge – Spyro the Dragon

Chronological Challenge – Spyro the Dragon

January 25, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Still pushing ahead on 1998, today we get to spend time with an old dragon friend. This is the first of a week of largely classic games that are still loved to this day, so enjoy!

Spyro The Dragon
Publisher: SCE/Universal Interactive Studios | Developer: Insomniac Games | Year: 1998
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (original PS1 disc)

Goal: See how far I can get in a single sitting

Actual Outcome: Got up to Peace Keepers and did a couple of worlds before moving on

If proof were needed that the late 1990s were a time where 3D platformer collect-a-thons ruled the world, this is the third game in that genre I’ve played for 1998 alone. But does Spyro join Banjo-Kazooie in being a truly charming classic, or is it an also-ran like Gex?

Now, I know that merely asking that question is probably going to put a few of the more intense PlayStation kids into a fit of rage, so relax, I can safely say that Spyro the Dragon is on the Banjo end of the scale. In fact, it’s a little better.

Perhaps it’s nostalgia talking, as I have fond memories spending most of my Christmas holidays after getting this game pushing to complete it, searching every nook and cranny for gems and seeking out the many dragons you have to free, until ultimately I unlocked the extra level and flew around collecting everything until the mythical 120% was reached. I remember it incredibly well, and I remember having a blast with some minor frustrations regarding supercharging.

And why wouldn’t I remember it fondly? Spyro the Dragon hooks you in immediately with its vibrant art design and charming cast of characters, and continues to do so with its hugely enjoyable gameplay, and playing it again after all these years hasn’t diminished its appeal in any way.

Gameplay is simple. You explore large levels seeking out gems and dragons sealed in crystal. You can breathe fire or you can charge with your horns. You can glide, allowing you to explore vast landscapes by floating your way over treacherous gaps. Your objectives never change from level to level, and you get few new abilities – those that you do get are largely upgrades to your existing abilities. The simplicity is what Spyro such a great experience, because progression is gradual. You play around with the full skillset at the start of the game, and as you become more proficient in using them, the levels test you more and more. It’s the perfect demonstration of the “easy to pick up, tricky to master” ethos.

Spyro has aged spectacularly well, too. Spyro’s facial animations are still charming despite looking a little too spiky by today’s standards. Levels are huge and draw distance is pretty far, which is almost unprecedented on the PS1. The music is a gorgeous mixture of relaxed and bouncy, and does some very musically interesting things (and I’m still surprised when I remember it’s the former drummer from The Police who composed it all!). You could hand this to a child today and they’d still likely be enthralled (and hopefully would wonder why this Spyro isn’t the gremlin monstrosity they know from Skylanders).

In summary, Spyro is a quality product in every possible way. What make this even more impressive is that I remember the sequels being even better. Obviously we’ll see if that holds true, but for now, I can confidently say that Spyro the Dragon is the best 90s 3D platformer I’d played so far for the challenge.

  1. January 25, 2016 at 10:56 am

    ah missing the old times… i have played the demo version of this game at CTR games… spyro yeah awesome

  2. James
    January 25, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Spyro better than Banjo? I’m not so sure, it’s very close, but I fall on the Banjo side… I think Banjo’s worlds are just more memorable and interesting, helped by the wonderful characters you meet along the way. There are of course some stand-out worlds in Spyro that easily match Banjo, but with it’s focus on quantity I feel too many of them fall flat. It’s still great, and deserving of it’s spot in the collect-a-thon hall of fame, but Banjo gets higher billing in my book.

    Gateway to Glimmer though, that’s a different matter entirely…

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