Seething Cauldron of Pop Culture Talk

Irascible Analysis of Popular Culture

Nostalgia Challenge: Spyro the Dragon

Two years after Super Mario 64 dropped and showed everyone what a 3D platformer was all about, a new mascot character hit the scene with his own brand new platforming adventure. Spyro was the brainchild of Insomnia Games and Univseral Interactive, who joined forces to give the purple dragon his own series of games. There’s been a slew of games since 1998, but Spyro the Dragon was the first.

When the dragons insult evil genius Gnasty Gnort on live TV, he immediately takes action and transforms all of them into stone statues. All of them except a young dragon named Spyro. As the titular character, you must travel the various realms of the dragon world and free your fellow dragons from their stony prisons, all the while collecting jewels and various other things. Eventually facing off against Gnasty Gnort and putting a stop to his evil ambitions.

The graphics hold up fairly well despite the game being nearly twelve years old. The various worlds of the dragons are colorful and cover a variety of various themes, from war-ravaged wastelands to pastoral towns.  Aside from the usual pixelated textures that were common on the PS1, there’s plenty to like about the graphics and the art style. It’s definitely got a quirky, charming style that works with 3D limitations of the system.

The gameplay is not too dissimilar from other 3D platformers like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, in that you are tasked with climbing to various heights, fighting lots of weak enemies, and collecting an assortment of baubles that serve no real purpose. However, it does have a few ideas of its own, such as Spyro’s fire-breathing, head-butting abilities, and gliding abilities mix things up a bit beyond just jumping and punching. There’s also a nice variety of different enemies and each area has it’s own variations on some of the standard enemy types. It’s a fun game, plain and simple, far more than the basics of the gameplay or story or whatever would have you believe. And it all holds up very well as an overall package.

Specs: Developed by Insomnia Games and Universal Interactive, Published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Released on the PS1 in 1998. Available in all regions.

Upsides: Colorful graphics, fun gameplay, a sense of humor.

Downsides: It’s all been done before and probably better.

Verdict: A fun platformers that stands the test of time and remains a nice time-waster despite its age. 8/10

Where to Find: It was released recently on PSN. It’s also available used on Amazon for $10.

Random Note: After three games, Universal took over the series and Insomnia moved on to Rachet and Clank.

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April 15, 2010 - Posted by | Games, Nostalgia Challenge | , ,

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