Spyro Reignited Trilogy Review: Chasing the nostalgic dragon?

Two decades after the purple dinosaur glided onto the first PlayStation, we play the fiery remastered trilogy on the PS4

What hits you first when you launch Spyro Reignited Trilogy is the colours. The Artisan World where the first game starts is home to green meadows reminiscent of those seen in Breath of the Wild, and it’s a welcome surprise to watch the grass sizzle brown as you unleash a wall of flame upon it from the eponymous protagonist’s mouth. It takes a heart of stone not to chuckle at the fleeing gnorcs (half gnome, half orc) as they run for their dear lives from the wrath of Spyro. And then you have your fellow dragons, encased in stone by the dastardly Gnasty Gnorc, who bestow gameplay advice while updating you on the colourful realm’s lore.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
The vivacious colours in Spyro’s world really pop

All in all, it’s a welcome break from the usual diet of shooters, violence and increasingly politicized bleakness coming into video games these days.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy: Nostalgia game

While Spyro Reignited Trilogy is ostensibly a PEGI 7-rated title, the real target market for the set is millennials – and their nostalgia. “With Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Activision is letting nostalgic fans relive their youth while also introducing Spyro to a new generation of gamers,” says Michelle Fonseca, Senior Product and Marketing Director at Activision, the game’s publisher, adding that “2018 is all about embracing the 1990s”. It makes sense – Activision sold a tidy number when it released last year’s Crash Bandicoot Nsane Trilogy.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Before and after: The Flight missions are perhaps the most challenging aspect of the game

Released tomorrow on PS4 and Xbox One by developer Toys for Bob to mark the 20th anniversary of the original Spyro on the first PlayStation, Spyro the Dragon, Spyro2: Ripto’s Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon have been remastered in crisp HD. The controls and cameras are sharper than the original game, while the music and voice acting from 1998 have been re-recorded.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy: Gameplay

In the first game of the third-person platformer trilogy, you start out in Artisan World, the first of five realms infested with gnorcs. Spyro’s attacks are a dashing headbutt and flame breath. The enemies aren’t particularly difficult to deal with, but they do regenerate if you leave and return to a level. They also become tougher as the game progresses, with the player needed to apply tactics and workarounds for speedier, tougher and harder-hitting foes. Most annoying are the super-quick egg thieves, who sprint just as fast as Spyro and relentlessly taunt you with snarky giggling.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
These realms are home to some kooky bosses

The camera’s always centred on your little dragon, so it’s important to keep shifting it when entering new areas. Spyro’s health is represented by the colour of Sparx, his little dragonfly companion. You can pick up health by roasting the small animals and critters scattered around the levels – they release little spirits that are gobbled up by Sparx. Rescuing your fellow dragons saves your progress. The dragons all fit the context of the world in which you rescue them – easel-wielding painters in the first; battle-scarred warriors in Peace Keepers’ World; Merlin-bearded magicians in Magic Crafters; and so on.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Armour is generally fire-proof; you’ll need a bit of cunning to beat some of the game’s more hardened foes

Spyro Reignited Trilogy: Challenges

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Tap X to jump; double tap to glide

Ripto’s Rage! and Year of the Dragon follow a similar structure, but throw in more fun with supershots, skateboarding and even a boxing ring level. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of Spyro comes in the flight levels. Here, you need to flying dragon through rings, to perilously placed treasure chests and between spiky portals. You start out with just 20 seconds to do this and the only way to make more time is by touching, burning or flying through these objects. Boss fights, on the other hand, felt quite easy – this could be down to the improved controls, which always feel fluid. Double-tapping X lets you glide and it’s always fun to spring Spyro upon a pack of gnorcs from above, fire raining down upon them like a (cute) nightmare of the Apocalypse.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Gnorcs come in all shapes and sizes

Twenty years ago, Stewart Copeland, who played drums for The Police, composed a soundtrack for each Spyro level. His score has been remastered – although you have the option to revert to the original music – with a new track thrown into the mix to celebrate the trilogy.