Spyro The Dragon along with Crash Bandicoot was essentially an unofficial mascot for PlayStation. Both represented the peak of adventure games for kids. While Crash Bandicoot was a more linear driven platformer, Spyro The Dragon provided a hub with various levels and encouraged you to explore and discover its many secrets. After releasing Crash Bandicoot Trilogy remaster last year for the PS4, Activision has brought back Spyro as well, and it is a great remaster that leapfrogs over Crash Bandicoot in many ways.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy includes the first 3 games in the original trilogy that launched for the PS1. These games are still infinitely replayable despite having released years ago, but now with this remaster (or remake), it has been completely remade in high-definition visuals. Every aspect of the game feels polished and improved upon but the original gameplay stays untouched. This means the physics, level design, and gameplay mechanics stay pretty much the same, so while there are some flaws in them, they are completely intact. The visuals and character design have faced a drastic change overall while making sure to respect the original design, which is unrecognizable now due to low-polygon models.
Starting off, the first thing that disappointed me with the remaster was the absolute lack of HDR. It is a game that screams HDR because of its vibrant look and colorful visuals, but there is no support of it in this remaster. My disappointment didn’t last long though, because the game looks striking – it starts to feel like you are playing a pre-rendered movie in real-time. The higher resolution on a PS4 Pro helps hide some of the flaws of the image quality and makes it look super clean. The motion blur execution can feel a little too aggressive at times, but this helps to hide the low frame rate that sadly suffers from some frame pacing issues that can lead to a slight stutter.
Another issue in this collection that feels like a drawback is the load times are long, especially if you are jumping between different levels. Loading the game into the hub and then starting the level is not as fast as I was hoping it would be, and instead, you are staring at the iconic flying Spyro screen for a little while. The levels themselves maintain all of their classic charms, and you will recognize many of them, complete with the enemies now redesigned in high-definition, therefore, providing them with a completely modern look. Despite this upgrade, the game is as mystical as I remember when I played it back on the PS1.
The story in the first Spyro is not exactly noteworthy since it creates drama just for the sake of gameplay. You play as Spyro (duh!) who has a close friend called Sparx, who is coincidentally a dragonfly. Sparx also acts as the health for Spyro and will have to consume butterflies to regain health or give an extra life for the purple dragon. Spyro lives in the dragon kingdom which comes under the threat of evil Gnasty Gnorc who turns all the elder dragons into stone. Spyro has to free them while making preparations to defeat Gnasty Gnorc. The sequels expand on the lore and the world of Spyro bringing in new characters and villains, and in this process, including new gameplay improvements and quality of life changes. The good thing with this collection is that these changes now also apply to the first game, so you are getting the best experience right from the beginning.
Sometimes staying faithful to the original can end up being an issue as it happened here. The original games weren’t exactly noteworthy with its camera controls. The awkward camera controls make it harder to sometime see your target when jumping around, and it can also usually get caught behind objects. Jumping around and then gliding often feels limited because you don’t enjoy a great amount of maneuverability during these moments. Compounding this further is the charging ram attack that you can do with Spyro. During this moment, the camera easily loses track of the purple dragon leaving it up for you to steer it in the right direction.
Despite these minor but annoying issues, the gameplay holds up well, and the skateboarding mini-game is quite fun. It is not just my nostalgia that is providing it a more favorable impression; I feel like it can end up as its own game because you can easily waste plenty of time just playing around with it. Speaking of which, even though there are three games in the collection, the developer has made sure to keep a consistent art style across all of them so you never feel like it is a disjointed experience when jumping between them.
Not only is this trilogy entertaining to play, but it also receives an easy set of trophies for you to unlock. It is a straightforward way of getting a platinum trophy if you try attempting it without cheating, by which I mean not using any guides. Every game in the series feels packed with secrets, but it is the third game that easily offers the most diverse number of environments, creative level design, and introduces a memorable cast of characters that end up becoming friends of Spyro. Unfortunately, there are some bugs that begin to manifest as you continue on with the sequels, so the first game is the most polished one out of the trilogy.
To conclude this review, this is an impressive remaster from Toys for Bob that is also relatively generous for the amount of content it offers versus the price. Despite all that praise, it still has some flaws. The lack of HDR is disappointing, and so is the performance even on a PS4 Pro. The second and third games in the trilogy are not as polished as the first one, while a lack of subtitles and accessibility options is an odd move in the current generation. I hope Activision can someday develop a modern Spyro game that is as good as this old classic.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a platform video game developed by Toys for Bob and published by Activision. It is a collection of remasters of the first three games in the Spyro series: Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon.
Final Score - 8/10
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a better remaster than Crash Bandicoot Trilogy, but it is not perfect. It is perhaps the most faithful recreation of the original games and deserves all the praise, but there are some minor technical issues with the load times and performance that cast a blemish on the remaster as a whole.