I’ve always been a bigger fan of Spyro the Dragon than Crash Bandicoot. So, when Activision announced the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy back in 2017, my initial thought was, “Hey, where’s the same treatment for Spyro?” Well, now here we are, just over a year after the excellent Crash remasters, Activision finally released the dragon with Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Developer Toys For Bob took the reigns with the blessing from original developer Insomniac Games for a remaster that brings modern graphics and mixes it with gameplay from the original that is faithful, fun, but also lacking anything for returning fans.
Let’s get this out of the way: Spyro Reignited Trilogy looks downright stunning. Games from the PS1 generation don’t look great by today’s standards, but Toys For Bob seem to understand what Insomniac’s original vision for Spyro was. The three games are bright, colorful, and show enough ty that makes each world feel lively with new details, even though there aren’t many creatures that actually populate the worlds. Fans of the originals will recognize many of the enemies that look to stop Spyro, but the developers took some liberties with monster designs when bringing them to modern consoles. As a fan of the original series, I was thrown off initially, and even didn’t recognize certain monsters at times, but as I was playing through each title, I quickly fell in love with Toys For Bob’s new take.
Also refreshed, is the music and voice-overs. Originally composed by Police drummer Stewart Copeland, I still hum tracks from the original soundtrack that have been burned into my head. I was skeptical at first, but the remixed tracks add a new layer of depth to these long remembered tunes. For fans of Copeland’s take, Toys For Bob left his vision in the games, and you can change to it on the fly. I actually changed the soundtrack multiple times throughout my playthrough, and no matter which one I had , I never felt like I was listening to the inferior soundtrack. Tom Kenny, most famous as the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, also lends his voice to Spyro the Dragon in all three games this time around, after taking the duties over for Ripto’s Rage for the original releases.
Let’s also get this out of the way: if you’ve played these games before, you’ve played the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. For better or worse, they play just as they did when they launched. The three games are the definition of . Each world has a certain number of dragons, gems, orbs, talismans, or eggs to search for, and all of them are in the same locations as they were 20 years prior. The worlds are the same layout, just with more detail. I love that these games are so familiar. It meant I was able to slip right into each game and collect to my heart’s content without getting frustrated or lost. But, it also means there isn’t much new to explore. Plus, outside of an art gallery, there isn’t much new content for old players to find. As much as I love how faithful these types of remasters are, I’d love to see the next developer doing this type of remaster do a “re-imagining” for the next big PlayStation 1 franchise instead. Kind of like what Insomniac did for Ratchet and Clank back in 2016.
Unfortunately, that also means the three games control similar as they did all those years ago. I will admit, that they felt better than I thought they would, but there are times of outright frustration, specifically in Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon. Spyro 3 introduces four new playable characters that assist the purple dragon during his journey. It’s a shame that Toys For Bob didn’t take the chance to make characters like Sgt. Byrd or Sheila control better than they originally did. This game also introduced skateboarding and sledding type challenges, and I had far too many moments where I would wince in frustration when I couldn’t turn properly or I’d clip through random geometry. There was also a few different times when the framerate would dip and the lip syncing would be off across all three games, but it didn’t happen enough to ruin my experience.
This was a difficult game to come into for a review. Similar to the Crash Bandicoot trilogy that launched last year, I wanted to see past the rose-tinted glasses that comes with nostalgia and come into this review with a 2018 point of view. Do these games still hold up 20 years after they originally released? While I still had plenty of fun, I wish there would have been more new for me as a returning fan, even if it just meant tighter controls. The graphics are downright beautiful, the soundtrack is still fantastic, and the value of three great games is there. Unfortunately, these three games play the same way they did 20 years ago, for better or worse. While I’m happy to have played through this trip down memory lane, I can’t help but wonder if Activision and Toys For Bob will give Spyro another chance with a new game in the future.