Following in the footsteps of last year’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Activision has pulled another iconic character out of the nostalgia mine for a chance on modern consoles. Move over Mr. Bandicoot—it’s Spyro the Dragon’s time to shine. In Spyro Reignited Trilogy, players can experience the first three entries in the single-player platforming series, but just like Crash’s collection, they’ve been completely remade. Developer Toys for Bob packed its colorful trilogy with a few new features to make the titles feel more cohesive, but the defining difference comes down to the visuals. All three titles still have the satisfying platforming controls and solid level design that fans fell in love with on PlayStation—they’re just (more) beautiful this time around.
Before I get into any of the gameplay changes or quality of life tweaks that Toys for Bob injected into the trilogy, we need to talk about the look of each game. While the original PlayStation Spyro adventures were all beautiful for their time, Reignited Trilogy finally gives life to the Dragon Realm that so many gamers have loved for years. I always enjoyed the colorful worlds that I was able to blaze my way through back in the early 2000s, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the environments, characters, and enemies lacked detail. Sure, the blocky graphics did enough of a good job to make myself and many others come back to the series time and time again, but the Reignited Trilogy offers a visually richer universe. Everything, from Spyro’s idle animations to the waterfalls, is brimming with life, and the visual landscapes of each title seem more fully realized when compared to the originals.
There were several moments when playing through the collection that I just stopped moving Spyro to soak in the areas around him. The water has a stunning reflective quality that catches the various colors of nearby trees and enemies, clouds move slowly in the night sky past twinkling stars, and even our dragon hero looks around in amazement when idle. It’s these seemingly small visual touches that give the collection its truest form of fan service, as Toys for Bob paints a rather accurate picture of how most fans tend to remember the original Spyro trilogy—even if memory deceives them. The limited power of the original PlayStation only let Insomniac Games do so much with the graphics, but Reignited Trilogy takes that already amazing world and gives it the visual overhaul it has deserved.
From the start, players can take their pick of which game to jump into: Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!, or Spyro: Year of the Dragon. It’s not revolutionary to have every title in a series collection available from go, but it’s a welcome decision nonetheless. Whether a mega fan or newcomer to the trilogy, starting with the first installment and working through to the third is the best way to go. Looking back on the original releases, it’s clear that Insomniac Games slowly built on the core mechanics that were introduced in Spyro the Dragon in the sequels, like adding the ability to swim and climb in Ripto’s Rage! and introducing other playable characters in Year of the Dragon. Toys for Bob didn’t tinker with this progression, as each entry still offers the same moves that were exclusive to each of the originals. It would have been understandable to make Spyro’s full set of attacks and platforming skills available across all three games, but it feels right to see the differences. The games might look different, but they haven’t been overhauled in every department, which makes them as faithful to the spirit of the originals as possible.
Of course, there are some tweaks that bring the trilogy up to date. The camera is now controlled with the analog stick, making it much easier to investigate, and is a vast improvement over the original titles’ L2 and R2 controls. Perhaps the most beneficial change, though, is the addition of the Guidebook to all three games. Now, players can keep track of the dragons, eggs, gems, and all other collectibles for every world in a quick access menu. Since the Spyro games are largely collectathons, this is perhaps the most crucial update Toys for Bob could have implemented. Plus, the Guidebook also acts as a teleporter, letting players zip to any previously visited world whenever they choose. Apart from being helpful, the feature being present in each game also makes the trilogy more cohesive.
While Reignited Trilogy is primarily a home run, there are still some issues that pop up. For some odd reason, the loading times in Spyro the Dragon are incredibly long. It took me a few world transitions to notice, but I started timing each of them just to see if there was a pattern. Most of the time it would take about 20 seconds, which might not sound like a long wait, but when you’re really anxious to play, it can feel unbearable. The length is even more noticeable after jumping into Ripto’s Rage! or Year of the Dragon, as moving from one world to the next in those games seems like it only takes five to ten seconds. It’s unclear why Toys for Bob couldn’t have tightened up the first entry’s load times, especially considering the collection was remade on the same engine.
Another downside, and this I can blame on original developer Insomniac Games more for, is the confusing layout of the second and third games. The breakdown of hub worlds and levels can force the player to perform mental gymnastics to recall how to get back to the hub they need. The new Guidebook warping feature helps alleviate this struggle, but it would have been nice if Toys for Bob had added more signposts or NPCs that could help Spyro navigate the vast realms.
Despite these small missteps, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a triumph. The most important job the developer had was to recapture the spirit of the original Spyro titles, and that was done impeccably. Controlling the purple wise-cracking dragon still feels great and is a reminder of the fantastic design work that Insomniac Games did oh so many years ago. The trilogy may not be the most challenging collection of platforming titles out there, but the series still deserves recognition for its addictive gameplay, impressive controls, and vibrant universe. For fans of the originals, this is the definitive way to play, as Reignited Trilogy adds more visual depth without compromising the core of what made the PlayStation classics work so well. Newcomers won’t be disappointed either, and hopefully, this Spyro renaissance will light some fire under Activision to make a new core entry in the series.
|Publisher: Activision • Developer: Toys for Bob • ESRB: E – Everyone 10+ • Release Date: 11.13.2018|
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is the remastered collection that longtime fans deserve and the means to get newcomers interested in the purple dragon’s adventures. Toys for Bob has captured the spirit of the original three entries in the platforming series, popped in a few helpful updates, and created a beautiful visual landscape that gives new life to Spyro’s early journeys. The long load times and past mistakes from the original developers still pop up, but there’s no denying that this remastered trilogy is Spyro’s triumphant return.
|The Good||The Spyro trilogy now has the graphics it deserves and a few helpful updates to remind us all why the series was a hit back in the day.|
|The Bad||The load times can make it seem like we’ve stepped back into 1999.|
|The Ugly||“Na, na, na, na na!” *hooded figure runs with egg*|
|Spyro Reignited Trilogy is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Primary version reviewed was for PlayStation 4. Review code was provided by Activision for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.|