Happy New Year of the Dragon

Checking out the Spyro I never bothered with

I may have been slightly too hasty in my dismissal of certain Spyro sequels. Well, okay, one of them. Not Enter the Dragonfly. Yecch. Urrrkk. No, I'm talking about Spyro: Year of the Dragon, released in 2000 for the Sony PlayStation. No doubt you are all absolutely incredulous, hysterical even, that I would have even considered writing off such a storied game as the third one of Spyro. But I have, until now, and I shall try to explain why, using "words" on "a website".

See, I loved Spyro. The first one, I mean. Spyro the Dragon, you know? One of the first proper 3D platformer thingies on the PlayStation. A sophomore game from Insomniac (Disruptor was their debut), this was a pretty chilled-out stroll through a succession of magical worlds, seeing the titular flying reptile hoovering up copious amounts of colourful gemstones in order to... I forget. I don't know why he did it. Doesn't matter - the point is, this was a game that rewarded exploration and didn't gate said exploration behind spurious upgrades; the Spyro you start the game with is the same one you roll credits alongside.

And that's good, isn't it? No? It makes finding all the stuff a matter of skill and observation, rather than returning to earlier stages to cover ground you've already rinsed because you weren't able to climb or swim yet. I'm looking at you, Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer. Oh, sorry, I mean Ripto's Rage, of course. Yeah, because it made you do those things, didn't it? No, Stu, one of you is saying, you can use a quirk of the control system to skip the climbing wall early in the game, right, shut up. Because it's not just that! The game also makes you play hockey! TWICE!! Where's the purity in that?? What's that got to do with Spyro?! Why would I buy the sequel to a pure platform-exploration game if I wanted to play sodding hockey?!?

Yes, I've been loudly trashing Spyro 2 over its obsession with cursed, cursed "gameplay variety" for years now, and as a result have been pointedly ignoring Spyro 3. Because, by all accounts, it was basically the same thing, with the same exact problems. I picked up Reignited Trilogy, played the remake of the first game, then traded it in. Felt like an absolute king at the time, if I'm honest. The long-haired lanky chap behind the counter at CEX was no doubt impressed as I regaled him with my Opinions about the children's computer game he was giving me entirely too little store credit for.

But it turns out I was wrong. And bald. Because - motivated by youthful YouTuber Caddicarus' wrong and stupid Spyro video - I gave Spyro 3 a go the other day and it turns out that it's actually really good. Oh, tom tit. I've wasted years of my life assuming it was the worst kind of wretched bollocks! Well, not really, as I've been wasting those years doing or not doing other stuff too, but still. It's a game that seems to have massively polished up the stuff that felt somewhat lame in Spyro 2 by making sure that even when you're railroaded into doing gameplay variety you still have plenty of other options. Additionally, the inclusion of extra characters genuinely does change things up in a compelling way, as well as giving the future handheld spin-offs a massive cast of redundant characters to re-use endlessly until they got fed up and made it into Lord of the Rings for some ungodly reason.

Anyway, this turned into a mostly personal history of me being bang-wrong about something, which had to happen sometime, I suppose. I'm going to crack on with Spyro 3 and try and at least see the credits; it's a very appealing prospect because it's a very well-designed little game and might end up being my favourite PlayStation 3D platformer, not that it has a tremendous amount of competition. I mean, have you played Rascal? Christ al-bastard-mighty.

Oh, I forgot to mention the skateboarding. Yes, it's got skateboarding, presumably because it was released in 2000 on the PlayStation. Somehow it isn't completely dreadful. For this alone the game deserves quite a lot of credit.