SPYRO REIGNITED TRILOGY
Dragon up the past
Not for the first time, Crash Bandicoot changed everything. Last year’s remake trilogy is still riding high in the charts, proving we can’t get enough of the warm, burbly nostalgia that comes with replaying games from our childhood. And just like on PS1, Spyro is following in the orange furball’s boardies. Can the dragon set the charts alight like PlayStation’s other mascot?
Of course he can. Spyro Reignited Trilogy, a remade collection of the first three Insomniac-developed games on PS1, is shaping up to be another sharply recreated slice of nostalgia. Created using Unreal Engine 4, the remade Spyro’s levels and animation look impeccable. The tiny dragon scampers and dashes around the colourful open-ish worlds like a manic splash of purple fun. But the charm lies in the details, such as the way Spyro preens himself and stretches, cat-like, if you leave him idle. There’s an air of Penelope Pussycat about how Spyro springs from platforms, his little feet dangling in mid-air.
Part of the draw of these remade games is seeing how the developer can fill in the gaps the aging PS1 technology couldn’t – 20 years ago our imaginations papered over the polygonal cracks.
This remake is awash with juvenile charm: breathe fire near small Rhynoc fodder, and rather than stand
“THE REMADE SPYRO’S LEVELS AND ANIMATION LOOK IMPECCABLE.”
and fight, they run in panic. Watching these big bads lose their cool, charge around like headless chickens, and collide comically like two Looney Tunes characters always raises a smile. And that’s the heart of Spyro, right there. Of course, enemies vary in size and tactics; while smaller Rhynocs can be rammed larger ones need to be burnt to send them scurrying away. But now remade on PS4 everything feels more alive, like a moving cartoon. It’s how our grey cells remember the game.
If the animation and vibrant visuals are Spyro’s immediate hook, it’s the level design that stands the test of time, regardless of visual splendour. Perched high on a ledge in Sunny Villa we can see all around. Shiny gems tease us for collection; dragon statues and eggs can just be made out. But how do we get there? The world building perfected on PS1 is back, and playing in it as addictive as ever.
If you think Spyro is ‘for the kids’ then remember how tricky some of the worlds were. Peter Kavic, senior producer at Toys For Bob, points us in the direction of Tree Tops, the level found in Beast Makers Homeworld from the first game. “It’s known as one of the more challenging levels in the game and it just looks beautiful,” he says. “Set in a village built high up among massive trees, Spyro must use supercharge ramps to make his way around the various huts, all the while at risk of falling into the abyss below.”
Aided by reworked controls, these remade worlds feel like they were designed for PS4. Spyro is dynamic and responsive. He turns and spins with a new-found agility, the camera easily keeping pace with the titular dragon’s on-screen antics.
Whether running or gliding through the Dragon and Avalar Realms, the game plays with the kind of modern flourishes that you’d expect from a new PS4 release. It certainly makes the endless exploration, collection, and discovery pitch of the trilogy as enjoyable as your old head remembers. There’s a clear passion for the source material that breathes fiery life into these remade classics. “We wanted to create a love letter back to the fans with this remaster and unleash the dragon in a significant way that reminded fans why they fell in love with gaming in the first place,” explains Kavic.
This passion feeds through into every aspect of the game. Even the music has been re-recorded, with ex-The Police drummer Stuart Copeland hitting the studio again. Tiger Train is a new title track for the trilogy that “blends recognisable musical motifs from the first three games into a memorable, orchestralrock score,” says Kavic. But like much of the game, the fun is in the detail. If you tire of the new music you can switch between the remastered and original Copeland soundtrack as you play.
All the ingredients are here for another retro takeover, and if the success of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a foreshadowing of what’s to come, we’ll all be fans of the purple dragon come November. Kavic is willing to go a step further for his love of Spyro: “I would dye my hair purple if we go to number one,” says the developer with confidence. His embarrassment is in your hands.
“WE WANTED TO CREATE A LOVE LETTER BACK TO THE FANS WITH THIS REMASTER.”
While the level design is identical, the rest of the game has been remade from the ground up. We love the ’90s.
Above Look at his little face. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to click pre-order. Right. Now. [ Milf,thatmeansyou– ed.]
Above Before Kratos got there, Spyro was doing the Norse myths thing. Cloud Spires returns and looks stunning.
Above Volcanic world Magma Cone looks fantastic rendered on PS4. Surely a dragon’s not scared of a little heat?