I have a very vague recollection of playing the Spyro games back on PS1 in the late 90s. I remember, uhh… some wizard looking guy running around taunting me with an egg, a purple dragon, and well, that’s about it. I didn’t realize how much of a blind spot it was for me until I picked up the newly released trilogy for Switch and booted up the first game a couple days ago. After about an hour or so I was stricken with a revelation: “Whoa, is this actually super good?”
After having never played a Crash game and trying the Crash trilogy to less than steller results, I assumed Spyro would be more of the same. Nope! Turns out, Spyro is a huge hub and spoke 3D platformer (of which I’ve been on a kick of lately between Poi and Yooka-Laykee) with plenty of worlds, collectables, and charm. There’s a ton of hub worlds so far and each have a varied selection of small platforming courses to explore around in. Each even has its own unique set of enemies that could have easily been the same reused generic orcs or whatever, making it an absolute joy to hop through a portal never knowing what I’m going to encounter next. Even all of the many collectable dragons have unique, usually charming dialogue with our sweet little purple boy. I’d be super interested to see if this attention to detail was present in the original 1998 release, and might find myself booting up the old modded Playstation Classic to see for myself.
I’m well aware collectathons aren’t for everyone, but having been a huge fan of Banjo-Kazooie throughout most of my formative years, picking up a million bits to achieve a 100% “explored every nook and cranny” rate has been a love I’ve never lost. Enter Spyro with more nooks and more crannys than I can shake a handful of multi-colored gems at, and I’m absolutely on board. If only the aforementioned enemies and the not-yet-mentioned bottomless pits didn’t kill me and send me to a surprisingly long loading screen so often, I’d have very little to knock an unquestioned recommendation. As it stands, the first game at least is an extremely good time if you can put up with one or two questionable design decisions from twenty years ago.
After a cursory search on the series after falling hard for the first game, I’ve noticed that the second and third seem to hold and even higher reputation than this one. If Spyro 2 and 3 are somehow even better than this, I may find myself breaking some personal Game of the Year rules to have some games from the early 2000s on my best-of list this year. Here’s hoping!