Spyro the Dragon
Developed by: Insomiac/Universal
Review by: superGamecube64
Up until Christmas of 1998, I had not owned any video games at all. I liked to play Duck Hunt on my Uncle’s NES when I was even younger than I was then, and I played them with a couple of friends when I went over to there house, but up until that Christmas, never had a had a game or system I could say was mine.
I was ecstatic upon opening the present, and seeing a PlayStation console. Along with it, I got three games: NASCAR 98(bleh!!!), Crash Bandicoot and what would soon become a game I hold dear – Spyro the Dragon.
As you could imagine, I was about to destroy the box then and there and play it ASAP. But no, we had places to go, annoying relatives to see. I’ll just play it when I get home, right? Nope - snowstorm and power outage. Hooray!
We had power back when I woke up the next morning. I went into the living room to fid the PlayStation already hooked to the television, the stack of games next to. Adie from the three initial games, they apparently informed other relatives they were getting me one, so I got a few more including Tomba! , and Megaman Legends.
I put in Spyro first. It had a dragon on it, and therefore had to be awesome. Such was my logic at that time. My uncle, who lived with us at that time, had apparently been the one who hooked it up. He also played my games before I was awake, which I wasn’t too thrilled about. Kind of selfish considering I always played his NES. He sat down on the couch and watched me play. Not used to games of this kind, he gave me some instruction.
I ran around the over world, a lush green field. I had no idea what in the world I was even trying to do. Apparently unable to conjure up so an enormous word as “portal”, my uncle instructed me “Go through the door lookin’ thing with the words in it.” So great with words, isn’t he? Here’s hoping my uncle doesn’t stumble upon this, huh?
Regardless of his poor word choice and description, I new what he meant and went through the “door lookin’ thingy with words on it”. After a load screen, I found myself in another green field, this time surrounded by walls with doors in it and a well in the center of the field. I ran into one of the arched doorways to find some treasure chests and such. After letting me wander around them for a few moments with not the slightest idea that they meant anything at all, he spoke up again, “Go back and break them!” and so I charged at them and busted them open. Jewels went everywhere, the small dragonfly that follows me picking up a couple and bringing them to me. Thinking nothing of it, I wandered out the doorway leaving the mess of gems behind me. Almost unable to speak from laughter, my uncle instinctively did a face palm and told me to go back and get them, to which I stupidly replied, “How?!”
After some more is his coaching, as well as my own getting used to playing a game where you weren’t either holding a gun peripheral to shoot ducks or picking a character to fight with, I started to love this game, and I stayed up long into that night playing it. It is to this day one of my favorite games, and it will always be close to my heart.
On to the actual review, now that my boring little story is over with. In Spyro the Dragon, you take control of a small, purple dragon whelp (a baby/child dragon…yeah, I’m a dork for knowing that) named Spyro. After being insulted on a TV/Radio station (it is never specified which, but either way, dragons with radio/television = no sense at all) Gnasty Gnorc(pronounced “Nasty Norc” although the dragon that insults him pronounces the G mockingly) attacks the dragon kingdoms and encases all of the dragons in crystal except for Spyro, who was so small, he easily dodged the spells magic blast.
This is Spyro, and hes gonna kick your butt.
This is Gnast Gnorc, and he is ugly as sin.
Being the only dragon left in all the dragon kingdoms, only Spyro can save them. Throughout the game, you will find your crystallized dragon brethren, who upon Spyro’s touch will be released. Afterwards, each dragon will say something funny, helpful or just plain useless. These dragons also serve as save points, and you can return to the pedestals where they once stood to save or replay the dragon’s speech.
Each of the 80 dragons in the game all have a name, and a personality. My only complaint about that is that some of them just have short lines such as “Thank you for releasing me!” and so it makes them more shallow than the others, who may come off as wise, cocky, or just plain stupid.
As you travel through the lands, you must also collect all the gems. Gems are a collectible in Spyro, and are not spent on anything nor used for help. They are the dragon’s treasure that Gnasty Gnorc stole. You don’t have to collect them all to beat the game, but you do if you want 100% completion and the alternate ending. Instead of using the gems like the rings in sonic, or giving you a one hit death, Sparx, your dragonfly companion serves as your health indicator. Normally, Sparx is a glowing gold color. After being hit once, he will turn blue. After a second hit, green. After a third, he will disappear. One more hit, and it’s lights out for Spyro. Sparx also helps collect gems as you walk by them, so if you’re on your last hit, spyro must touch the gems himself in order to collect them. If you’ve taken a few hits, you can kill some of the games harmless critters, such as sheep, and they will release a butterfly. Sparx will then eat the butterfly, recovering a single hit point. The mass murder of sheep to regain health lends to a rather humorous spyro commercial, though I can’t remember which game it was for, as well as one of the funnier end quotes to a video game just after the credits.
As I mentioned already, the game takes place in an over world, in which there are portals leading to the levels. There are 6 different over worlds; the 5 dragon kingdoms and Gnasty Gnorcs home world. How do you get to each over world? You just find the balloonist in each over world. They aren’t hard to find, thanks to their hot air balloons. Each one has a special requirement before you can move further into the game. Some want you to collect more gems, other s free more dragons and some collect more stolen dragon eggs.
Gamelay is simple, and fun. It's a platformer with lots of collectibles. One neat thing is that due to his wings, Spyro can glide. he has not yet learned to fly, but if you jump from a high structure, you can glide to your destination, slowly losing altitude. Being a dragon, Spyro has two forms of attack. Chargin with his horns, and breathing fire. Combat doesn't play a major role in the game, but it is there. you'll have to kill all the enmies to collect all the gems, but kind of like in Mario, you don't absolutely have to defeat the enmies, they just sort of stand between you and your goal. there are a couple of exceptions in cases where an enemy blocks your entry to a particular area, and bosses of course.
Yes, that enemy is preparing to moon you.
The graphics in Spyro are not very impressive, to be honest, but it is a 32 bit console after all. Still, the later spyro entries look very good even considering this, and so this one falls a bit short in that department. The music is awesome in my opinion, and I wish I had the sound track. Mostly lighthearted jingles with some interesting sound effects used here and there. As for the voice acting, it’s actually pretty well done. Hands and feet look sort of blobish, a trait that carried over to Spyro 2 and 3. Though you can make out some ridges and bumps on spyros back, most of his model looks somewhat untouched. Tecnology was mroe limited at the time, so some of the more rough features, such as certain things in the landscape can be forgiven.
Overall, I would recommend this game to anybody. As I mentioned before, this game means a lot to me, and I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I did. If you are one of the people who has not played this game yet, you owe it to yourself.