Ah the ’90s, a time where mascot platformers controlled the gaming market. Sega was going fast with Sonic, Nintendo was dominating with Mario, and Sony had about fifty different mascots all vying for attention and to be the PlayStation icon. There was Croc, who is remembered for being adorable and Crash Bandicoot, who spun his way into gamers’ hearts with his goofy attitude. Competing right alongside them was Spyro the Dragon, who is loved because he possessed that classic ’90s attitude of sass and sarcasm that was almost mandatory to become a mascot. Unless your Nintendo, then personality is not required; you only need to work a variety of different jobs. Really, what can’t Mario do?
Any mention of Spyro today sends people into a nostalgic spasm and for good reason. The original Spyro Trilogy was an interesting experience which achieved a lot on the limited hardware of the time. It had large, pretty levels and gave players the freedom to explore. It had a nice soundtrack and it had the classic 3D platformer gameplay filled with tasks to complete and collectables to, well, collect. The problem is, they had their fair share of issues. The controls were stiff; the levels, while large, were rather barren and the games could be linear. This is exactly why Spyro deserves a remaster as, despite these shortcomings, Spyro managed to make a name for himself in an incredibly crowded genre. That is certainly a feat worthy of a remaster. With everything we have today, Spyro could be an even better platformer than when it first launched.
When looking back at 3D platformers from this era, the big one that always stands tall is Mario 64, which defined what a 3d platformer should be. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy has the benefit of hindsight, and no longer having to worry about any unfavourable comparisons to Mario 64. Spyro can now become an even better game by learning from Mario 64 and more recent 3D platformers like A Hat in Time. Keep the big, open levels, but throw in more objectives for the players to make them feel less empty. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy does need to keep it old school in one respect: completion bonus. It’s all too common in today’s gaming market for video games launch with 50,000 things to collect and they fail to offer a satisfying reward for those who are dedicated (or insane – you decide) enough to collect everything. Give players a secret epilogue, a cool power up or even a different attire. Don’t waste the players time with a congratulations screen or something just as dull. A new, yet familiar, Spyro experience with enhanced graphics, performance, and more to do sounds like a fantastic experience. This is the perfect time to fall right back in love with the purple dragon.
Much like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro is a much-beloved character who managed to be fondly remembered by millions who grew up with him. He reminds us of a time where life was simple. A time where we didn’t have to scour insanely large maps to climb every tower and didn’t have to pay for cheat codes or extra costumes. Spyro reminds us of a time where video games were all about one thing: fun. As the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy already proved, players are more than willing to visit a world they are familiar with and explore it all over again in a new light. It proved that platformers aren’t dead and that players are still interested in exploring levels they played countless times before, collecting items from hidden locations they still remember and unlocking abilities they have long mastered.
While it is fair to say part of the reason to love these games is because of nostalgia, this isn’t entirely the case. When you play a game like Mario 64, Spyro, or Crash Bandicoot, you get to see the love and care these developers put into these titles. They packed so much detail and personality into the limited technology they had, that they are still incredible to look at. These are the games that pioneered and led the way for the 3d platformers that followed. Even if you are not a fan of the genre, Spyro is a fun part of gaming history that deserves a chance to be explored by a new generation. The fans of the original deserve to see one of their favourite games brought to life on modern hardware and the chance to remember simpler times; where running around as a dragon with attitude was awesome. Everyone needs to experience the joys of breathing fire on an enemy until they turn to ash.
The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is rebuilding the original trilogy from the ground up. This is no simple port job with some upgraded graphics. This is about both modernising Spyro while keeping what made the original series so great. Spyro’s unique glide and dragon breath will still be there; the large levels where players are completely free to explore will still be around. Sparx will still be following Spyro to serve as a nice in-game health bar. Everything that when into making the original trilogy great will still be there. Everything sounds like this is a game made by fans, for fans. Spyro doesn’t need to be altered to be good by today’s standards. All he needs is a fresh pair of scales and a little more polish to shine.
Video games have come a long way since the ’90s. Developers have learned so much about what makes for great game design and technology continues to advance. Because of this, this remaster can give us the Spyro game that fans deserve and showcases just why Spyro is always in the conversation when you are talking about the greatest platformers of all time. Spyro may not have been able to become the main mascot for the PlayStation; Sony was just leading him and his polygon counterparts on the entire time. Sony never planned to settle down with any of them, the poor lot.