STAFF REVIEW of Spyro Reignited Trilogy (Xbox One)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Box art In 1998, Playstation had a platforming hit on their hands with the release of Spyro the Dragon, even if it wasn’t completely apparent at the time. It spawned numerous sequels and Spyro even became the mascot for the super popular Skylanders series that is currenly on hiatus. While I grew up with the series, I was never really big into them at the time. Luckily, Toys For Bob is bringing back the original games with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, for fans of old, and those who are new to the franchise.

Included in this trilogy is the original classic, Spyro the Dragon, as well as Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, each of which was great in their own rights at the time, but now they have been remastered. I know I know, yet another remaster right? That seems to be what a ton of games are doing lately. Some are lazy ports with some minor improvements, while others, like Spyro Reignited Trilogy, are true remasters, almost to a fault. If you’re a Spyro buff, you’ll be happy to know that this trilogy is much more than a simple HD port, but rebuilt from the ground up, yet preserving the classic gameplay, mechanics and even design, to what made it so great in the first place.

In the original Spyro, the purple dragon we've come to know is the only one that can save his fellow dragons that have been turned into crystal statues by Gnasty Gnorc. Of course Spyro has his trusty friend, Sparx the Dragonfly, to aid him along the way. The original game in the series was the first time we got to experience the adorable Spyro, and was two decades ago. In the sequel, Ripto’s Rage, Spyro must help save the land of Avalar from the evil sorcerer. Lastly, in Year of the Dragon, Spyro is up against Rhynoc and an evil sorceress, challenged with saving all of the valuable Dragon Eggs. While narrative wasn’t its strongest suit, the gameplay is what really shined and made Spyro a household name during the time.

So let’s get to what you’re probably wondering the most: "What’s new?". Well, a lot actually. Nostalgia is a funny thing, as it can help you remember memories far different than they actually were. Looking back at old Spyro gameplay on the original PlayStation, it simply isn’t pretty to look at. Yes, at the time it was amazing, but my nostalgia sure did remember something quite different. No more hard edges, blocky characters and bland textures. The remaster is truly a remaster.

Obviously there’s little technical limitations these days with current consoles compared to two decades ago, so Toys For Bob was able to put the much deserved love into the project to make all the games included in this package look the way it was always meant to. Not only is the game in HD and plays super smoothly, but it appears every single character, even minor ones and background characters, and the environment they are in, has been completely redesigned, but yet it feels familiar. The art direction looks like a high quality animated cartoon you’d see on TV or Netflix these days; the production value is quite amazing honestly.

Every level has been remastered as well. Gone are the bland flat green color for grass, as there’s now foliage, grass blades, flowers, light rays and tons of small little details added to make it a much more believable and gripping world to enjoy. My only wish is that there was a way to switch to classic graphics on the fly, much like the Halo remaster, so that you could truly appreciate the work that’s gone into this impressive remaster. Seriously, watch some gameplay videos of the classic 1998 version and the Reignited Trilogy version and you will be blown away.

Now, to get this out of the way, there’s a little controversy at the moment if you purchase the retail disc version. The original Spyro game is on the disc, but 2 and 3 need an update for them to be playable, which is quite a big download. This to me isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s an obtrusive and odd decision that is sure to, and already has, displeased some fans.

Even more impressive than the visual upgrades is how Toys For Bob left the original gameplay, mechanics, placements and everything else virtually intact. If you are able to play the original games with your eyes closed from memorization, you could probably do the same here. Even Spyro’s signature dash, side roll and flame moves are intact, if not more stylish. So, to say this is a faithful recreation for the fans is a gross understatement. In today’s graphical standards, I was more than impressed. Gameplay was super fluid and looks absolutely stunning with bright and colorful visuals.

That being said, staying absolutely faithful to the original games is almost a fault in its own right though. Especially in the original Spyro, where you’re given nearly zero guidance as to what you’re supposed to do, how or why. There’s an option to turn on a handy minimap, which helps a great deal, but it’s set to off as a default oddly. I also suggest playing though the games in order, as you can see how much Insomniac improved on each title in terms of level design, mechanics and gameplay. Ripto’s Rage finally got rid of the terrible drowning in a tablespoon of water, allowing Spyro to actually swim. Year of the Dragon was even more impressive, as mini-games like Skateboarding and Hockey were introduced as side activities.

I played Spyro alongside my 6 year old daughter who loves to game as well. She has no problems playing games after a little time with them, as she can play 3D platformers like Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 without any assistance from myself. She was really enjoying Spyro (and subsequently now wants all of the Spyro merchandise and toys she sees; thanks Activision and Toys For Bob!) but eventually hit a steep curve of difficulty. As we progressed through the games, she needed my help more and more for certain tricky sections. I’ll admit, the games start out very simple at first, but there were a few parts that even I had to attempt numerous times to pass. It’s hard to fault Toys For Bob for this, as they are simply keeping the original Spyro experiences the way they were designed, but some minor tweaking of the difficulty for the younger audience would have been welcomed.

Toying with people’s fond memories and nostalgia is a tricky situation to be in. Do you try and stay faithful to the source material but change it to your own style, only to have the masses hate it, ala Michael Bay’s Transformers, or do you stay absolutely true to the source, recreating a classic experience for a new audience, faults included? Toys For Bob has gone with the latter, recreating the classic Spyro experience I enjoyed in my day. No matter how you choose to remaster a title, people will always wish that something was changed or kept the same, and I feel Toys For Bob has found that sweet spot of not messing with something that isn’t broken, even if a few mechanics could have been improved slightly.

More than a simple coat of paint, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy brings back a wave of nostalgia, seemingly improving my fond memories of the classic purple dragon. Now a new generation, like my daughter, can enjoy Spyro, and Toys For Bob should be commended for creating this remaster with the proper love and care that Spyro deserved for original fans, and they have truly outdone themselves.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 9.5 / 10


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