The Spyro: Reignited Trilogy – the much-anticipated reboot of everyone’s favorite sass-slinging purple dragon from the 90s. It’s a more or less faithful adaptation of the originals, but with some fresh takes on characters and levels that I, for one, have been having a blast with over the course of the past month!
Since Pokemon and NaNoWriMo were also distracting me, however, I didn’t get a chance to do a first impressions review as I’d initially anticipated. But considering I’m now 120% through the first game, 100% through Ripto’s Rage, and coasting along with Year of the Dragon, what better time to do a full-on review?
With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s recent release, I wanted to be damn sure I got around to my snark-a-larkin’ dragon friend before he got lost in the shuffle. So alas, without further ado, I present my (kind of late but well thought-out) review!
As with Pokemon, the graphics in Spyro: Reignited leave little to be desired. And you better believe this all-growed-up 90s kid is loving it.
From the smooth, reimagined character designs, to the scorchable blades of grass, Spyro: Reignited takes full advantage of the PS4’s specs.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a seriously awesome testament to just how much technology has advanced over the past twenty years. Considering Spyro had amazing graphics for the times, unless you’ve recently played the originals, it’s easy to forget just how primitive they really were.
In short, Spyro and co. are looking better than ever, and – with the exception of Sheila (will be touching on that later) – I feel that the reimaginings are mostly spot-on.
Reignited isn’t an exact replica of the originals, and I’m cool with that. Each character feels more unique now, and their personalities come out more in their designs.
Heck, Toys for Bob somehow managed to make EVERY SINGLE ONE of the eighty dragons in the original game have a unique and distinctive design. Every. One. Can you imagine how much time that must’ve took?
So yeah, bravo, Toys for Bob. Bravo. Spyro has never looked better! (Though considering the strange pug look of his Skylanders incarnation… maybe that’s not such a huge accomplishment?)
This may just be where Spyro: Reignited takes one of the biggest hits, in my opinion. (Which is saying something when I’m still giving it a 4/5!) As mentioned above, Reignited – while pretty damn faithful to the originals – does take some liberties with things, for better or worse.
There has been many a Reddit argument about whether such liberties hinder or enhance the Reignited experience, but when it comes down to it, I honestly believe it’s a matter of personal preference.
To demonstrate my opinions on the matter, we’ll look at three characters I feel exemplify the varying levels of “better” and“worse”: Elora, Hunter, and Sheila.
The Good, The Bad, and the Sexy?
Personally, I’m LOVING the fresh take on Elora. As such, I feel like she’s a great example of how a 2018 reimagining served rather than hindered.
I think her new design captures her essence perfectly, from her more faun-like appearance, to her leaf dress, to her sprightly new voice. My sole complaint is that she seemed to lack a bit of the snark of her 90s self?
Though her lines remained more or less the same, the way Cassandra Lee Morris presents her in Reignited, she seems just seems… nicer, somehow?
Though ultimately, I really like Cassandra Lee Morris as a voice actress and think she did a good job with Elora!
Not to mention, the entire time I was playing Ripto’s Rage, her voice nagged at me because I couldn’t place it. Then I looked it up and realized… she does Morgana in Persona 5.
That’s right, adventurers. Elora and Morgana are now one in the same. I can’t unhear it.
While most people seem to agree that Elora’s new take enhances her as a character, there’s a bit more contention around Hunter, everyone’s favorite dorky yet-almost-condescending-somehow cheetah. Or – in Reignited’s case – total bro.
I’m actually in the camp of liking his new take, though that’s not to say I didn’t find it jarring. Because I definitely, definitely did, and that subtracts from the nostalgia a bit. The way he’s voiced and presented, it’s almost like he’s a completely different character!
He basically went from this slightly dorky, slightly creepy cheetah that – as a child – I often found myself wondering whether or not he was pedo… to a bro. Some say this diminishes the uniqueness of his character – which I’d have to agree with – but honestly, I just think he fits better into the whole Spyro world now?
I could actually see his Reignited incarnation being bros with Spyro, instead of just being this kind of creepy older cheetah that was always just… there. And I like it! I like Robbie Daymond’s take on his voice and his presentation as more of a jock… who still just ends up being a total dork.
But maybe that has something to do with my tsundere love.
Before the game had even come out, I heard there was some SERIOUS upset about Sheila’s design, and assumed that – as usual – it was just the interwebs overacting.
But then I saw it for myself.
Toys for Bob had such a good track record with making the other characters look fresh and awesome… but this? Just, no.
This – more than anything else – is what brings down the nostalgia score for me. Sheila was always one of my favorites, and definitely my favorite of the new playable characters in Year of the Dragon. Like me, she always seemed like a tomboy with a penchant for adventure.
And then… this happened.
Though she’s still got some ‘tude, she seems more like a 50s housewife that got combined with a kangaroo and a t-rex and then shoved into a corset masquerading as a jacket. Who knew the addition of hair could change so much?
But seriously, the hair and the skinny waist leads me to believe they’re sexualizing her. And she’s a goddamn anthropomorphic kangaroo, for Pete’s sake!
There’s no need to sexualize anthropomorphic kangaroos, female or otherwise. It speaks volumes about how far our society still has to come in the gender equality arena, if nothing else.
I mean, the jacket is kinda cool, and heck – I don’t even mind the awkward, hourglass proportions as much as other people seem to – but hair, really? C’mon, Toys for Bob, that was just excessive.
The writing was part of what gave Spyro its charm back in the day. It was silly, it was snarky, it was fun. And sometimes, it was just plain weird. But even back then, it was also far from perfect.
Understandably, the focus in these games has always been on the gameplay, so cut scenes and plot have always tended to be short, sweet, and to-the-point. But sometimes I feel like this brushing off of the story is sometimes taken too far?
Despite the short, quippy scenes, I’ve managed to get seriously invested in these characters and really would like to know a little more! Plus, I mean, there are more than a few plot holes that need filling.
No Female Dragons?
I’d forgotten that – despite the eighty unique dragons featured in the first game – not a SINGLE ONE is female. Not. One.
Yet in the final game, you’re collecting baby dragons? How is that possible, Toys for Bob? How is that POSSIBLE?
Now maybe this is just my world-building nerd, writer self talking, but I legitimately would like to know what’s up with that. Clearly, there are female dragons, as evidenced by many of the baby dragons in Year of the Dragon (and – you know – the nature of copulation in general?), yet there’s never mention of any.
Because I’m such a world-building nerd, I’m choosing to believe it’s like the krogans in Mass Effect, where the males and females live separately, only coming together for… erm… happy fun times. But as far as I’ve seen, this is never explained in-game.
Hunter’s Afraid of Water?
In Year of the Dragon, Hunter mentions how he doesn’t want to get wet, being a cat and all. Which is understandable. Very understandable.
Except… in Ripto’s Rage, he can be found scuba diving in Aquaria Towers?
He even has a pet stingray and everything. So I’m a little confused at the apparent contradiction. Yeah, it’s a very minor, off-handed thing, but I felt like it was yet another example of this series’ many contradictions and plot holes which – as a writer – I just couldn’t ignore.
No Elora in Year of the Dragon?
Okay, so she does appear, but it’s only a cameo at the very end. Considering I played these games each a year apart from each other as a kid, I guess I failed to notice how strange it was that she was just kind of missing for the majority of Year of the Dragon?
This time, I went straight from Ripto’s Rage to Year of the Dragon, and was a little jarred by the fact that Hunter now seems to be living with Spyro and the other dragons, for one, and that Elora – despite her importance in Ripto’s Rage – is never mentioned.
Again, I found myself asking: what is UP with that? Just how long after Ripto’s Rage does Year of the Dragon take place? Why would Hunter be living with dragons now? Why wouldn’t Elora want to help out with the dragon egg problem, considering how close she’d gotten to Spyro in Ripto’s Rage?
But I suppose it really comes down to: if she’s not going to be in the final game, could we at least have a brief explanation of why?
All in all, I found the writing in Reignited to be fun, but not completely substantial for my nerd-writer sensibilities. You could argue that it’s for kids and that they don’t care or notice such things, but I remember being super disappointed by the writing as a kid too!
A lot of people seem to have complaints about these, but I’ve found that they more or less run smoothly? They’re not perfect, sure, but they’re a heck of a lot better than Pokemon Let’s Go’s!
The worst aspect – just like way back when – is the camera, which they didn’t seem to put much effort into improving this time around. I haven’t found it too bad, though. It mostly just gets annoying when swimming underwater.
True to the originals, these games have some super fun, super original mechanics! There are a bunch of great platformers out there, but as far as I’m concerned, few are able to touch the awesome that is old-school Spyro.
Even among the three games themselves, each one is distinctive from the next. Each one has unique aspects that I love, such as the simplicity of Spyro the Dragon, the new abilities in Ripto’s Rage (Spyro learned to swim between games?), and new playable characters and thus – mechanics – in Year of the Dragon.
Though – admittedly – sometimes they seem to take the innovation too far. Year of the Dragon is definitely my favorite Spyro game, but after getting used to the first two, sometimes I wonder if they may have added a bit too much to it?
Like skateboarding. Ugh, skateboarding. I may have enjoyed it back in the day (maybe because I liked IRL skateboarding back then?), but now? Just… ugh.
Most of the time, I’ve been having a lot of fun with these games – just like back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Heck, the first game was so simplistic, I even found it meditative.
But other times, I’m reminded just how difficult games from “back in the day” could actually be.
I don’t know about you, adventurer, but there’s this part of me that thinks back to the trouble I had with the games of my childhood and wants to write it off as a kid’s inexperience… only to replay said games and have just as much trouble, if not more!
And Spyro: Reignited is definitely one of those games. Parts of it are easy, sure, but there are other parts that are just downright HARD.
Chasing the countless “thieves” in the first game? Trying to get the speedway skill points in Ripto’s Rage? Trolley riding in that one birds vs. slugs level? Beating Hunter’s skateboarding record in Year of the Dragon? GULP?
Yeah, Spyro can have some seriously childhood-scarring challenges, so it’s no wonder I subconsciously blocked out such things. There have been points in these playthroughs where I’ve just had to walk away… lest I smash a sixty-dollar-controller through a five-hundred-dollar screen.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve also literally leapt for joy upon completion of those same challenges. Because, when it comes down to it, what ISN’T fun about getting to play an entire game trilogy as a snarky purple dragon?
- GORGEOUS graphics
- Catchy, revamped music
- Stayed (mostly) true to originals
- Fun & unique gameplay mechanics
- Skill points added to first game
- Spyro! (Who doesn’t love this guy?)
- Silly, lovable characters in general
- Each game is unique
- RIP Shelia
- No silly Colossus monk chanting?!
- Plot holes galore
- Frustrating camera at times
- Takes up a lot of space – 67.5 GB – and the disc only comes with the first game
All in all, like Pokemon, I found Spyro: Reignited to be a nostalgic-yet-refreshing blast from the past that succeeded in capturing most of what I loved about the originals, while simultaneously breathing some new life into the series.
The new designs (save Sheila) were slick, the controls (save the camera) were smooth, and the gameplay (though frustrating at times) was ultimately fun and engaging.
All that’s really left to say is: more please?
Have you played Spyro: Reignited? If so, what did you think? Were you also a fan of Hunter’s new brosona? Did Sheila’s new design make you cry? And am I the only one who seriously wants to play “Vanessa the Dragon”?
What I’m Playing: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – I WAS planning to do a review, but considering how long it takes to compose these kinds of posts, I’ll just tell you right now: my score would be 5/5! Seriously. It’s perfect. And it’s GLORIOUS. And Ridley is my favorite of the new characters, hands down!
What I’m Watching: Ralph Breaks the Internet – There was a lot to love about this one, though I felt like the shift from video games to the internet took away so much of what I loved about the first one. Still, Gal Gadot as Shank made me SO happy! 😛
What I’m Listening to: You Are a Badass! by Jen Cincero – This self-help audiobook is as awesome as the title implies. It’s elicited more than a few literal LOLs that have made many a passerby assume I’m crazy. (Which, let’s be honest, I probably am?)
What I’m Reading: City of Dragons – You probably haven’t heard of this one because I’m actually beta-reading it for a friend! But as far as YA fantasies go, I’m lovin’ it, and I assume others would too… ‘cause anything with “dragon” in the title’s gotta be good!
What I’m Writing: Revising my short story “The Deadliest of Poisons” YET AGAIN in hopes that maybe – just maybe – this time it might meet Writers of the Future’s seemingly unattainable standards?
What I’m Contemplating: Sabian Symbols – just google this. I’d never heard of it, but as all things rabbit hole, I’ve found it crazy accurate! It’s like tarot meets astrology!