It’s taken Activision a little more than a decade to realise that they have been sitting on video gaming gold for a long time. Crash Bandicoot ignited a fire under their backsides made of Dollar bills that has since catapulted the developers into one of the top teams at the long-standing publisher – now we finally have the much asked for Spyro the Dragon on its way to PS4 and Xbox One.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy, like Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy, isn’t just a simple facelift. Oh no, everything has been redesigned from the ground up with current hardware in mind. We might all think we recall the game being made up of luscious green meadows and stunning vistas, but start up your PS1 game today and it looks like a pixelated grid of meh textures and clunky controls. Everything is flat and the sound quality feels 20 years old. As soon as I picked up the PS4 controller I could feel the difference right away. Press and hold the square button for Spyro to charge head-first into any foe or scorch them with the touch of the circle button. It’s the exact same game you remember; it’s just that it looks and plays a damn sight better.
Small details such as Spyro rolling over the green grass has each and individual blade of grass animating in conjunction with where he originally stepped or rolled on it. Scorch the grass with fire and it’ll dry it up with black patches. The bright orange skies are striking in HDR and corridors that were once empty spaces have now been filled with more detail. The entire map is a one-to-one dynamic remake of the original game, which is a very impressive feat as there were absolutely no assets to make the game from the original Insomniac outing on the PS1, as explained to us by the Producer (Lou Studdert). The music has also received the upgraded treatment. The sounds come with much more depth, but it is also dynamic. Move from an interior building to an environment outside and you’ll hear the music gradually changing to represent your surroundings. The developers have however taken a lot of time to honour the original game.
The voice actor for Spyro the Dragon 2 and 3, Tom Kenny, reprises his role and re-recorded all the voice samples from scratch. It’s not just the way the game looks and sounds that’s seen an improvement. In the PS1 titles, you would use the R1 and L1 to rotate the camera around Spyro, but that’s thankfully been fixed with the use of the right analogue stick. Are you a purist? Fear not, they’ve included the original classic button layout for fans of the original series on PS1 to play it exactly as they recall it being. Where Spyro originally excelled was with the great take on humour from Insomniac Games.
Towards the end of the Toasty demo level, you’ll battle your first boss, which tries to convince you that it is a scarecrow, when it’s really just a sheep walking on stilts. It’s comical and your typical classic 90s humour, which still works all these years later. In the short time that I got to play the game, there were a good number of funny one-liners, though I must say that some of the older dialogue hasn’t aged all that well. Unlike the PS1 there is now also an auto-save feature. It’s hard to think that there was a time in the world of gaming where it did not automatically save our progress, but it’s a 90s reality that’s thankfully not an issue in 2018.
Spyro controls with exceptional grace and when moving over to our E3 exclusive level, Sunny Flight, you get to soar through the skies in your effort to collect and destroy a certain number of items before the time runs out. When not gliding through the sky you can jump and glide from one point to the next in other levels, which plays a huge part in making the platforming a solid experience.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy will launch with over 100 levels to complete. If it’s anything like Crash N Sane Trilogy players are going to end up with another top remake. Get ready for our lovable purple dragon to burn a hole into your wallet.