Spyro The Dragon Review

By: John Doe


System: PlayStation
Price: $64.95 (Canadian)
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: SCEA
Release: Sept.9/98

The impossible has been done. PlayStation owners now have a 3D platform game that would look, play and feel right at home on the Nintendo 64. Spyro the Dragon is another in a long line of cute mascot games for the PlayStation, but heís got "game". Croc, Gex, Rascal, Jersey Devil, Rayman and even Crash, are shaking in their boots right now.

Highs:
Lows:

I have seen this game featured in the magazines and on the net for months now and low and behold, it has arrived. I was wary of this game from the start thanks to the numerous failures and near-misses of the 3D platform genre on the PlayStation. Generally these games suffered from bad camera angles, horrendous load times, sluggish control and uninspired gameplay. Spyro has come to make amends and finally lay to rest the argument that this sort of game just couldnít be done on Sonyís console. It is technically amazing and backs up itís bark with some good play mechanics.

Graphically Spyro the Dragon is as good as it gets. Clean, vivid and colorful worlds stretch out as far as the eye can see. You will be amazed at how far you can see in this game. Insomniac didnít settle for anything but first rate in the graphic/framerate and resolution departments. All future 3D cartoony games will be judged on the bright visuals of Spyro. Of course, since the game is cartoony, it can get away with more solid colors and less texture mapped background. Thatís not knocking the backgrounds. Wait till you see some of the work!

Insomniac has given life to a whole new world. Enemies interact with each other and with Spyro in many humorous ways. When was the last time an enemy whipped down his pants and mooned you in a videogame? Thatís what makes Spyro so enjoyable to play. Youíll want to see whatís going to happen next. In a game that spans 6 large worlds and has a ton of things for you to find, youíll be thankful that the programmers had a good sense of humor. Youíll be kept busy for hours finding everything and to ensure that you will, the programmers offer you up a nice little bonus at the end of the game for a job well done.

I reviewed this game with the digital controller and had no problems with the control at all. Iíd probably recommend the analog just because it is generally more effective in 3D games, and what the heck, you should own one. All of Spyroís actions are easily executed, although more seasoned vets may be wishing for more moves. Spyro basically jumps, glides, shoots flames, rolls left or right and can charge his enemies or treasure chests (he can also fly in certain areas). Of course control in a 3D game is one thing, the 3D camera is another. If the two arenít "married" then the game is in trouble. Spyroís camera isnít perfect but itís pretty darn close. As close to perfect as Iíve seen on the PlayStation. As for the lack of moves it may be said that the programmers kept things simple so that all ages could enjoy the game. Letís face it, Spyro isnít marketed to the Metal Gear Solid crowd.

The music in Spyro is oddly reminiscent of some old 1970ís porno movies thanks to over abuse of the digital piano. I think the best you could say about it is, that itís back ground music. It doesnít take away or enhance gameplay. I will say that itís boppy quirkiness grew on me over the hours however.

Spyro offers a fair amount of voice work and although not as vocal as Gex, he gets his share of lines, as does the dragons he rescues. Unlike Gex, you wonít find Spyro spouting off throughout the adventure. He usually only speaks when spoken to. And thank goodness he isnít a wise cracking smart aleck, heís got more of a 10 year old boy thing happening. The guy who voices the Taco Bell Chihuahua lends his voice talents to Spyro which fleshes out the character a bit more. Hmmm....I wonder when Crash will be yakking it up?

Spyro is a darn near perfect 3D platformer with some slight problems. The lack of enemies in most of the levels, does give the game a spartan look at times and the challenge level is geared more to entry level players (most of the time). I say most of the time because there are a few good challenges awaiting you especially in the free flight levels. As for replayability you may not get a whole lot out of Spyro the second time, but the first time will keep you occupied for a good long while. If you have owned any of the previous 3D platformers already available, then I definitely recommend a purchase of this fun, great looking, great playing game. You wonít get burned!

Final Analysis:

Rating Legend 1-10 (10 being the highest mark)
Overall: 9.5
Graphics: 9.5
Control: 9.0
Music/Fx: 7.0
Frustration: 3.0

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