As someone who had never played a Spyro game until a few days ago, my main wonder going into the Spyro Reignited Trilogy was whether or not the games would hold up without a nostalgia factor. In all honesty, I went into the trilogy expecting they would not, but I came out the other side pleasantly surprised – for the most part. The tricky thing about trilogies is that they are, of course, three games, which slightly complicates the reviewing process. With that in mind, I think the best approach is to separate each individual title and discuss them on their own.
The remaster of the original Spyro the Dragon is the part of the Reignited Trilogy that gives me the most pause. All three of the games look more or less the same, with the same great graphics and similar pleasingly cartoonish atmospheres and environments. All three of the games have the same collect-a-thon platformer gameplay. That said, the first game lacked some of the charm of the second and third. The dialogue in Spyro the Dragon is mostly small snippets from the dragons the player rescues throughout the game, either providing very obvious hints to the player or simply saying a variation of “Thank you for releasing me!” which gets old after a few times hearing it. I didn’t expect Spyro to have a groundbreaking narrative arc, but even so, the effect was that the whole game felt lacking by modern standards. To be clear: Spyro the Dragon was still a fun and amusing experience, just one that is ever so slightly off.
The second game, Ripto’s Rage, is where the trilogy really started to grab me. Though still not the best storytelling ever, the second Spyro game has much more variation in the dialogue and characters present than the first, and I started to understand the charm of the series. The jokes and gags in the small cutscenes and interactions between characters mostly land, and everything is bright, colorful, and fun. Additionally, the confrontations with bosses in Ripto’s Rage actually felt like boss fights, instead of just regular levels with a unique enemy in them, and so progressing through the game had a greater feeling of build to it.
Finally, there’s Year of the Dragon, which continued to win me over even after Ripto’s Rage had already done so. Year of the Dragon adds playable characters besides Spyro, each of whom play differently from the little purple dragon in some fun ways. Year of the Dragon also has more minigames than the others by a wide margin, which is sometimes good and sometimes obnoxious, depending on the minigame in question. Year of the Dragon also kept up the charming and funny dialogue of Ripto’s Rage, so playing through managed not to feel like just more of the same.
A few common threads exist throughout all three games that I can comment on as a whole. Most notably, the difficulty level of the Reignited Trilogy is fairly low. While I personally died many times, I only lost enough lives to fully game over on one occasion, about halfway through the first game, and even that was barely more of a slap on the wrist than a normal death. The sound design felt off all throughout them, as I could barely hear the background music most of the time and in most cases what I could discern was largely indistinct. A less-than-stellar soundtrack isn’t a deal-breaker for a game, but I always appreciate games with great music more. There is also, of course, the controversial decision not to include the option of subtitles for cutscenes, which is a glaring flaw in my book.
Despite my lackluster opinion of the original Spyro the Dragon and more general lack of nostalgia for these games, I enjoyed my time with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. The upscaled experience of three titles from the late nineties remains charming in 2018, and the fact of their upscaling makes them more palatable to the modern gamer who may or may not be spoiled by the graphics and such of today (myself included). I can’t speak for anyone who would have nostalgia over these games, but I would imagine they’d be even more enjoyable for someone who played Spyro the first time around. Whether that’s you or not, though, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy should provide a good time.