Like most legends of early 3D gaming, Spyro had his name dragged through the mud after his initial outings. As soon as original developers Insomniac Games put the purple protagonist out to pasture to pursue other projects, a slew of mediocre sequels followed headed by teams who didn’t seem to understand Spyro’s charm. I’m glad to say that, with this wonderful remake of those original titles, developer Toys for Bob have state a confident case not only for this welcome release, but for the future of the series as a whole. If the Reignited Trilogy is anything to go by, one of platforming’s favourite mascots is back in good hands.
Spyro Reignited collects Spyro’s debut PS1 titles – Spyro the Dragon, Ripto’s Rage and Year of the Dragon – and beautifies them for the modern era. Indeed, they look and sound wonderfully at home on current gen consoles, because much like the Crash remakes that preceded them, they’ve been given a treatment that boils down to much more than a few extra polygons.
Reignited is more robust, more complete, and more competent than ever here. Some of the shortcomings of those original titles have been iterated on and polished to a mirror sheen, breathing new life into the already charming cutscenes and conversations. Everything benefits from new layers of character – everyone is rendered with much greater expression and visual variety, and whilst my foggy memory dutifully filled in the blanks and pretended that this was indeed the game I played back on the PS1, I know that this is thanks to a massive commitment by Toys for Bob. They’ve somehow appeased that nefarious beast that is nostalgia, nailing the tricky balancing act that is staying true to the original whilst avoiding the crushing reality that these games wouldn’t hold up in the same way today without some serious work. That serious work is here and then some – so bravo, Toys for Bob. Your efforts should not go unnoticed.
Spyro is a kinetic 3D platformer that sends you, as the fire-breathing, cocky namesake of the series, through a host of levels packed to bursting with pickups and collectibles. This is some of the finest, most addictive gameplay the ‘collectathon’ genre spawned, and it set a bar that many games would struggle to live up to in the years following its debut.
Whilst the genre has seen several modern entries into its venerated halls, none have quite captured the excitement and drug-like hook that the simple formula presented more than two decades ago. Clearing out levels of every shiny object is, once again, engaging and difficult to put down once you get the bug – especially thanks to some new ways to track your progress in each level towards that glorious 100%.
Spyro is especially fun thanks to the games tight, responsive controls and a movement tech that encourages varied, zippy play. When you’re not gobbling up gems you’re tasked with some fairly simple combat and memorable battles with funny or fearsome boss characters. It all ties together to make a charming package that never quits being fun to play – even when you’re three games into it.
What can I say here that I haven’t gushed about already? Reignited is more than a lick of paint. There’s so much effort put into every aspect of the game’s visuals that it fills me with confidence for a new entry in the series. Toys for Bob have made a set of games from decades ago pop and sparkle once more without ever betraying its character, thanks to beautifully animated character models, endearing animation and colourful and varied visuals. Each level is a treat for the eyes, and holds up to scrutiny when you stop to look at all the little details that have been retroactively added.
The soundtrack is also spectacular, with a fresh twist on the old tunes you remember. The tracks are more full-bodied than the music of the past- though if you want you can switch back to this original score with a handy option in the menu. I’ll likely never use it, but it’s awesome that the option is there. It will make some people very happy.
There’s a lot to love with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Here are three fantastic games reborn for the modern era, and this magic trick is pulled off flawlessly. These games feel at once old and new, familiar and fresh, and its thanks to the buckets of work Toys for Bob have put in filling in the blanks for us. This, our brains tell us, if how Spyro always looked and felt – but don’t be fooled. This is an incredible achievement, not just so that the dragon can fly proudly once more in 2018, but so that Spyro can soar confidently into the future. Reignited proves that he’s got some puff left in him.