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Spyro the Dragon Retro Review (PS1)

A better purple dragon than Barney!

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In the fall of ‘98 the gaming industry was dominated by platformers, so far be it for Insomniac studios to release another, but they did, and boy was it a doozy. Spyro the Dragon hit during the heyday of “collect all these things” games and yet it remains one of the most memorable. Let’s take a look at Spyro today.

Just to cover all my bases here, if you’ve never played the game itself, the original Spyro game has you take control of the titular dragon in a quest to restore the dragon realm by rescuing crystallized dragons, recovering dragon eggs and collecting the stolen treasure of the realm from the horde of Gnasty the Gnorc. Your quest sees you across a multitude of worlds as you run, fly and burn your way to victory. Unlike the later entries in the series and the all-too-popular Skylanders series, you only play as Spyro in this game.

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The controls, despite being playable on PSN emulation still feel tight a decade and a half later, and remain fairly simplistic to the point that they barely need explaining once. Unlike later entries, the game has little to no RPG elements and behaves completely like a traditional platformer in terms of of level access and abilities. Instead of teasing you with out of reach locations, they gradually unlock as you progress through the game instead of once you get a particular ability or item.

The worlds in Spyro are all fairly memorable but they are particularly beautiful even now. The tricks they pulled to make the scenery and level design still stand up, even if they’re not 1080p. Long after the game you’ll remember the scenery after scouring them for hours as you try to find every last gem and make that ridiculous jump to try to get to them. Speaking of ridiculous, some of the feats you have to accomplish take a lot of luck, skill, or a combination of both. But don’t let that deter you from giving this classic a shot. You can easily coast through the game and not 100% it. The difficulty of the game’s more in relation to the goals you set for yourself and how much of a completionist you are.

One other thing I’d like to point out before wrapping things up. The writing is Insomniac all over. If you enjoyed some of the banter etc in the Ratchet series, the same sense of humor is present here. Spyro has a mouth on him and he’s not above groaning when he’s asked to save the dragon world.

All in all the game still really stands up even after all these years despite looking a little graphically simple and it’s old enough to get that nostalgia juice going for anyone want to give an older game a chance. Not to mention this game was prior to devs really pumping out “easy mode” games where you get an infinite number of tries. This game has a save system for a reason. There ARE game overs. Retro gamers looking for a challenge will definitely find some satisfaction here as well.

Final Verdict: 4/5

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Available On: Playstation (Reviewed) ; Developer: Insomniac Games ; Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment; Players: 1

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