The year is 1998 – Sony is looking to capture a younger age demographic for the PlayStation, and a little-known studio named Insomniac Games are wanting to bounce back from their first title Disruptor; a game that was well-received but sold poorly. The result is etched into history – a small purple dragon named ‘Spyro’ was born, who would go on to take his place in the PlayStation echelon alongside other icons such as Crash Bandicoot and Lara Croft.
So now we arrive here, 20 years later – in a world where nostalgia is king and remakes are more prevalent than ever. With the reins to the Spyro series being passed from developer to developer over the years, gamers never really got another set of titles that had the same essence of the original trilogy; ultimately leading to Spyro being incorporated into Activision’s Skylanders series. But as with Crash Bandicoot before him, fans clung to hope of a return to the originals – and now their prayers have been answered with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
Of course, a lot can change over 20 years – and the biggest concerns surrounding the game would be whether the remaster is faithful and true the experience of the original, including the preservation of Spyro’s platforming and puzzle solving elements. This why it was an absolute shock to find out that developers Toys For Bob had meticulously rebuilt the trilogy from the ground up; doing utmost justice to Insomniac’s original vision and creating something that feels brand new yet extremely familiar. It takes only moments to view clips from the original trilogy on YouTube to realise the amount of effort that has gone into creating such a faithful remaster that spares no expense on looks or gameplay, crafting an experience that truly feels complete.
While it can be expected that the voicing and sound clips required updating, the soundtrack by Stephan Vankov working off of Stewart Copeland’s original tunes adds an additional layer that really makes the experience feel as if the game has grown up with you. While the soundtrack can be changed on the fly between the ‘Original’ and ‘Reignited’ versions, it becomes noticeable just how big the limitations were for games back then, as the consistent loops of the Original soundtrack get a little tedious while the Reignited versions add incidental or contextual changes that move with the way you play.
Visually the game is absolutely stunning – the level of detail in each world looks as good as my imagination saw it as a child. The colours are vibrant and vivid, and gone are the jagged polygons that were once buildings; it is here we can see that the games have come a long way. The question then falls down to how the game handles – with charging and gliding, Spyro would sometimes be quite a finnicky character to control, and you would find yourself charging off levels or drowning unintentionally. Thankfully, the controls have been fine-tuned as well – gliding and charging are extremely responsive, and the only times I ever found myself falling off levels were the moments when I didn’t time a jump or glide correctly. A few enemies have been changed, updated or even removed from the games as well – likely for balance – which is expected with an update to a game like this, and is honestly not too noticeable unless you go back and revisit the original trilogy.
The one thing that I did notice which again could come back to the fact that I’m now an older and more experienced gamer is the fact that levels felt easy to whisk through – and often I found myself not leaving a level until it was 100% complete. This is especially easy to do in the first title ‘Spyro The Dragon’ as unlike Spyro 2 and 3, there are no power or special move unlocks throughout the game which leave areas inaccessible until later. The level designs themselves were always relatively intricate, forcing you to really think or look for avenues in which gems or unlockables could be hidden – but if you absolutely get stuck, you can always check out classic walkthroughs to help you through it. The games have always had a reliance on quick-saving when passing fairies, but a refreshing change is the fact that the quick-saves now function as proper saves, allowing you to continue your adventure without having to find a save point.
THE PS4 VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED ON A PS4 PRO. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Taking off the nostalgia goggles for a moment, Toys For Bob have done a brilliant job in revamping a classic trilogy of games. In updating the visuals and tweaking the controls, they’ve stayed true to the source material and crafted an experience so involving that you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a brand new game. Initial viewings had me concerned that they might not be able to live up to the hype; but on playing the game, for the briefest moment I was eight years old again – and I enjoyed every minute of it.