Perhaps one of the most family-friendly remakes yet, the Spyro – Reignited Trilogy gives a new generation of gamers the chance to play with a trio of platformers that originally captivated Playstation 1 audiences. The trilogy’s available now on both Xbox One and Playstation 4 – we tested on the latter platform.
Nostalgia’s a funny thing. It allows us to look at something like the Crash Bandicoot remakes and makes us like them so much that we value them way higher than very similar games coming out for the first time today. While the first remasters in the PS4/Xbox One era were of very recent games (like The Last of Us or Uncharted), we’ve since seen developers go further back in time. The Crash remakes were excellent, and now it’s Spyro’s turn.
I never actually played the original Spyro trilogy in the original Playstation days, as I was mainly a PC gamer back then and wasn’t enticed by the lukewarm reception when a PS2 sequel came out either. My first actual brush with Spyro was when he started undertaking his Skylander-backed adventures and I was able to play those together with my son – a relatively basic platformer enhanced by the magic of the toys to life principle.
It sparked my interest in the original games, which I picked up digitally not long after – partly because they were compatible with the Vita, a platform not exactly teeming with 3D platformers. And boy, did it look dated next to my other Vita platformer collection of remakes: the Ratchet & Clank collection. What a difference a console generation makes.
So imagine my surprise when I started out playing the new Spyro Reignited Trilogy. The visuals were crisp and richly detailed, with a lot more “pop” to the color than the PS1 versions had. It maintains that cute/cartoony platform look though, so don’t expect visual details like you see in Red Dead Redemption 2 or even Spider-Man, which has a more realistic approach. Instead, you might compare Spyro’s return with games like Yooka-Laylee – which is a huge leap forward for the little dragon since that’s a title that was developed for the current generation of hardware.
The visual update also extends to the cutscenes, and developer Toys for Bob (also responsible for the Crash remake and the Skylanders franchise) didn’t forget about the auditory side of things either. Voiceover work was redone, bringing in the same actor who played Spyro all those years ago, and the musical score was also updated. I can’t compare it to the original, but the music in the new Trilogy is excellent – it’s constantly playing, mixing percussion, electronic notes and subtle melodies in a way that it never becomes overly present.
Gameplay-wise, the original Spyro trilogy were clearly part of a learning process, with each game adding more gameplay elements into the mix – especially when you look at the number of side quests and mini games that are available. These aren’t just fun diversions either – they can be played as standalone challenges for the more competitive gamer as well (the main campaigns aren’t among the most challenging in the genre).
The controls are fairly easy to grasp as well, making the Spyro games manageable for children as well. You jump and glide through the air, and engage in combat through a charge and the ability to breathe fire – that’s about it and things don’t get overly complex in the latter levels (or games) either. The third game (Year of the Dragon) does become a bit more diverse (even having you play as other characters), but it’s not hard to ease into it after having played the first two games. Coming from a Skylanders background, it was also fun to see the earlier exploits of various characters that I had only seen in connection to that franchise. You’re buying upgrades and items from the same bear that’s in the Skylanders games, for instance.
My only real issue with Spyro is that the camera can occasionally be a little awkward, but it’s much improved from the original PS1 experience in terms of no longer clipping through walls and making Spyro invisible – it certainly isn’t enough to ruin the enjoyment. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a joy to play and one of those rare AAA games coming out this season for the whole family to enjoy. Between this and Starlink, there are two great options for some holiday gaming this year.