Platform: PS4, Xbox One
After years spent headlining the Skylanders franchise, diminutive dragon Spyro is back in his own games. Way back, in fact, with this glossed up remaster of the trio of platformers that graced the original PlayStation. Spyro Reignited Trilogy brings together Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, giving them a lustrous makeover for modern consoles. The package is seemingly tailor-made to tap into the nostalgia market in much the same way 2017’s Crash Bandicoot remastering did, but that’s far more fraught a proposition here.
Where Crash’s earliest efforts were variations of ‘run into screen while spinning’, always in a rush and demanding a surprising amount of skill and focus, Spyro’s open 3D worlds and freedom to explore lend the games a much slower pace. That in turn makes it easier to spot how poorly these games have aged.
Spyro the Dragon comes off worst here. By far the simplest, its bare-bones plot and a progression structure that amounts to rescuing your fellow dragons – transformed into crystals by the big bad – by simply walking up to them, is so basic that even very young players are likely to be bored. Spyro 2 and Year of the Dragon fare slightly better, still reflecting how PS1-era games matured with their audiences, adding in more complex puzzles, larger areas to explore, and even the occasional challenging boss fight, but there’s nothing here that will really test players, new or old.
The flying levels are a nightmare to control.
That is, with the exceptions of the controls themselves. Players can customise between updated Reignited controls or the clunkier PS1 control schemes – and while dashing around, head-butting enemies, breathing fire, and gliding between platforms won’t throw up much difficulty, the flying levels are a nightmare to control with a camera you’re constantly fighting against.
The overall saving grace here is the sheer quality of the remastering. All three games look beautiful, with warm and charismatic characters animated at near-cinematic quality. Environments, meanwhile, maintain the structure and layout of the originals, but are more lavishly decorated and awash in colour. The audio experience has been similarly enhanced, with an upgraded musical soundtrack, plus new cast recordings delivering consistent performances across the series. In terms of raw presentation, Spyro Reignited stands shoulder to shoulder with any modern game.
Yet while the remastering is fantastic, the ultimate problem here is the dated nature of the games themselves. Even viewed strictly as kids’ titles, they’re overly simplistic for a demographic now used to building whole worlds in the likes of Minecraft, while returning fans are likely to find these too basic to really engage with as adults.