Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a remake of the three original fun-loving, cartoon-like Spyro games, originally created by Insomniac Games in 1998, 1999, and 2000 for the PlayStation. However, before discussing this modern ‘reignited’ collection, I need to go back to the late 1990s and share with you my personal history with Spyro.
Back in the Nintendo 64 Days
For his 7th birthday my brother received a Nintendo 64 from our grandparents. This was our first home console, and with this gift we now we had the ability to play so many yearned-for games which, until that moment, could only be played in our most improbable dreams. Indeed, now the two of us no longer were limited to my GameBoy and an old PC, and seeing games in full 3D (limited as it was back then) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a unique moment in my gaming life.
Thinking about that moment, now, makes me almost cry. I had never seen something like that before, and what was even more amazing was that I could also explore such huge, colorful, and incredible worlds thanks to the invention of the analogue stick. I ate up so many games. Super Mario 64 was unprecedented, Mario Kart 64 was so fun, and Banjo-Kazooie was difficult. Through all these games, I felt like my only limit was the time per day I had to explore them because there was always a new corner to discovery and enjoy.
Besides feeling like the cool kid with my Nintendo 64, I also remember thinking that only Nintendo could possibly provide me with such vibrant worlds. But I realized how wrong I was when, a few years later, I went to a friend’s house and become initiated in the ways of the original PlayStation.
Enter the PlayStation Glory Years
When visiting my friend (thanks to our mothers being busy socializing), my friend and I could play all night long, and we could choose from his wide collection of games since he was one of those friends who had all the games you can’t ever afford. (For the record, my personal PS1 was bought some months after launch, but I just got a few games and lots of demo discs.)
I remember one night in particular in which my friend (named Matteo, in case you were wondering) decided that evening that we should play a new game he received (probably from his grandparents), which according to him was the real Super Mario 64 competitor on Sony’s console. You guessed it… that game was Spyro the Dragon.
Prior to this night, I had only gotten a chance to see a few screenshots of the game on some of the earliest videogame websites and in some Italian magazines, so I didn’t know much about it. What I did know was that there were no other free-roaming 3D platformers available around that time on any other home consoles, apart from the N64 with the aforementioned Super Mario 64.
There were some other games that tried to be open in their world design. I had the chance to try a PC demo for a game called Croc (which was great!), but it wasn’t very open like Mario. Crash Bandicoot (on the PlayStation) was obviously a great game, but it was built to be “on-rails”. The Tomb Raider series was certainly a thing, but those games were still limited to the confines of the caverns and hallways you were in.
Introducing Spyro: A Decent Mario Competitor
With all these things in mind, we now come to my history with Spyro the Dragon, itself (himself?). Sure, Mario was (and likely always will be) the real platformer king, but back in the late 1990s I really wanted to find a decent competitor in order to widen my choice of games to play. And Spyro delivered.
I recall booting up the game. Spyro magically started to live when the disc was inserted into the PlayStation, and it was love at first sight, sound, and play. From the start the humor was there that really made me laugh. The bright, vivid colors popped out at me, and the game was one of the best looking at that time. (Keep in mind that many of the ‘hot’ PS1 games were ‘mature’ with dark colors and themes.)
Last, but not least, for us Italians, it was one of the first times where the whole game was completely dubbed with Italian voices, thanks to Italian voice actors. If I wasn’t already smitten with the game before, this last selling point was all it took to totally fall in love with Spyro, the pretty-friendly Dragon!
Thanks to all of Spyro’s charms and much more, the developers, Insomniac (who recently, in 2018, put out the universally acclaimed smash hit Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4), strongly entered the videogames industry, and Universal (the publisher) made lots of money.
Much more importantly than fame or money, many players finally got to enjoy a real open-world 3D platformer on a console other than Nintendo, and there clearly was an appetite for this style of game. Consequently, Spyro, in his cool purple dragon style, sauntered himself through two additional Insomniac-developed chapters also on the PS1.
Hard Times for Old Heroes
Unfortunately, Spyro soon declined in popularity as game design evolved past the joys of simple 3D platformers. A couple PlayStation 2 titles (2002 and 2004) were developed and were moderately memorable. Other spin-off titles were also made to milk the franchise.
Then there was an attempt to revive Spyro in the 128-bit era by Activision (who bought the rights and owns them to this very day). This led to the creation of less interesting and semi-forgettable titles, including a dubious 2006-2008 rebooted trilogy with big-name voice actors and a planned movie tie-in (yuck).
Given Spyro’s rocky years, Activision shifted gears and directed one of their wholly-owned studios, Toys for Bob, to create a new type of game that mixed real-life collectible toy figures with videogames. This new vision would become the insanely successful Skylanders series. So in 2011 Spyro found himself becoming a ‘collectible toy’ video game designed to be inoffensive and accessible with RPG ‘hooks’ to keep the player engaged (and buying toys).
It’s ironic, then, that Skylanders began as a spin-off of Spyro but soon came to completely eclipse the Spyro brand. Soon enough, Spyro was mostly forgotten about as Skylanders went on to create an entire genre full of collectible toy creatures and mildly interesting ‘children’s’ videogames over the 2011 to 2016 period. Quite a fall for Spyro from being the up-and-coming threat to dethrone platforming-king Mario back in the early 3D days.
Finally, Spyro Returns, Reignited!
Having been dormant for some years now, and thanks to the trend in remaking old 3D classic games, Activision has finally brought back the original Spyro in this modern remake of the three very original games, much like how Activision remade the Crash Bandicoot saga in the ‘N. Sane Trilogy‘ in 2017. To accomplish this remake, Toys for Bob was called back to the action, which is fitting since they’ve had years of experience with Spyro-inspired games since 2011’s Skylanders series began.
First released in 2018 on PS4 and Xbox One, this remake has been a huge success from both critics and players, in part because it has allowed so many of us to relive old childhood memories in modern accommodations while retaining the appreciated ’90s gameplay mechanics. Accordingly, sales were huge, and Activision has successfully ridden the wave of instant nostalgia and given fans a real blast-from-the-past treat.
How Faithful is the ‘Reignited’ Remake? Very!
As far as the faithfulness of the remake goes, Toys for Bob have created a very faithful product, with the same story, worlds, and enemies of the originals. This is very much a 1:1 remake, much like its reboot-cousin, Crash’s ‘N. Sane Trilogy.’ With this reboot, from the first moment when you boot the game, it’s like traveling through time with some magic trickery.
Everything is there, in the same place I remember it, with all the same gems and chests right where I left them some 20 years ago. Even all the enemies are in the right places, with the same movements and noises. Indeed, all the gameplay and mechanics are basically identical to the original games. Even the beloved dragonfly character Sparx is faithfully recreated, who shows how much health is still available before collapsing and losing a life (you’ll understand when you play the game).
The only big difference in this remake is the technical, not structural, changes. Under the hood, the game hums along with excellent performance thanks to the Unreal Engine 4 engine, and all the modern effects create a visually pleasing, if still simplistic, style. The game engine also provides lots of configuration options to fit the power of various PCs, and the semi-cartoon visuals mean the game looks good even on lower settings.
Overall, this remake is ultra-faithful gameplay-wise but also has excellent additional details to make these original games come alive in ways never before seen. All the new aesthetic details are a treat to behold, even if they don’t change the underlying gameplay, and the few minor gameplay tweaks are welcome.
The Same Gameplay: Both Good and Bad
Delving into the actual gameplay, it should be noted that it’s both good and bad that this remake is so faithful to the originals. There’s no denying that these games are dated in design with gameplay that has aged a bit badly, but as long as you know what you’re expecting, you’ll likely find lots to appreciate.
As far as the structure, all three games maintain the world hub and its respective world zones scattered around it. Just like before, the player needs to collect all the gems, free all the dragons, and find all the stolen eggs using Spyro’s powers.
There’s just a few new additions here and there: for example, Spyro now has a new way of moving, inspired by feline movements, which make him smoother than before. The same treatment was used for every 3D model, allowing cleaner movements, making the game easier to appreciate in our time.
An Italian Aside
For the readers out there from Italy, let me once again say that we yet again have a completely localized game with redone (and superior) voice acting. Gone are the questionable accents of the original games, so the localization efforts deserve praise.
Game Difficulty: Not Hard
Let’s bring up Crash Bandicoot again. That series was cruel and difficult despite its happy cartoon-like design, and both the originals and remake were obviously aimed at experienced players. Spyro, on the other hand, was always aimed at younger players, and both the originals and remake have much easier controls and laid-back design.
Mind you, Spyro can still be a tough game at times, but it’s only ever difficult, not nightmarish, and most of the game is easy to explore and enjoy. Basically, Spyro is the type of game everyone (including kids) can play through and reach the end, feeling satisfied at the result.
It would have been nice to have some way to select or unlock more difficulty options in this remake, but whether you’re young or old there still is enough challenge to keep most players focused. Still, you can decide for yourself if the lesser challenge is a plus or minus for you, personally.
Concluding the Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Now I’ve taken you on my person journey through Spyro, leading up to this recent remake. I’ve enjoyed my time with this modern Spyro, and it’s been like a homecoming for me, reliving my old cherished memories. However, even if you’re never played Spyro before, there’s much to enjoy. The game is colorful, smooth, and interesting with a cartoon-like story and charming characters.
Make no mistake, this Reignited Trilogy is nothing more or less than a totally faithful, high-fidelity remake of the first three games (some would say the only legitimate Spyro titles). New players might not be willing to endure the old-school mechanics and simple challenge, but with the right mindset it’s really enjoyable to play.
At the very least, it’s nice to have Spyro back in a nice modern three-in-one package, reliving his 3D platforming glory days.
- Faithful to the original trilogy
- Remastered graphics
- Easily customizable
- 3 games for the cost of 1!
- Suitable for all ages
- Probably too easy for some
- No additional levels
- No original graphics mode
- No bonuses or extras
Playtime: 12 hours total (and counting). Mathieu has not completed the game, but he’s still playing it to collect all the gems!
Computer Specs: Windows 10 64-bit laptop computer, with 16GB of Ram, Nvidia 1050Ti.