All Together Then: Weirdo Spyro, Part 1
A look at the oddball, lesser-known Spyro games on DS
Whoops! I accidentally played all the Spyro games ever made, and now I feel obligated to write them up. Not the console stuff - Pfft! Ptui! Hwwwwaaarrrrk! (Gobs enormous amount of phlegm) - the handheld stuff that nobody on the planet has ever talked about! Well, I'm doing it backwards, because I started with the DS games and will move onto the GBA in next week's exciting edition.
And so it goes!
All Together Then!
Spyro: Shadow Legacy (DS, 2005)
A flailing attempt to fit little Spyro into an RPG mold that he really wasn't created for, Shadow Legacy is not a very good game, but it is a fascinating one. Often dismissed outright, I personally think this game is pretty interesting, with a decent amount of traversal and backtracking to get items you couldn't get before - this is a thing that's compelling to do as you become more powerful, right? The main problem is that the game seems to run horribly, with the music not even really in time, so I suggest playing it with the sound off and some external music to accompany you. It's so frequently trashed online but the game is an alright time if you can look past the jankiness. Honest! It's not dissimilar to the Sonic Chronicles experiment, but has better combat.
The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning (DS, 2006)
Do you remember when they rebooted Spyro and gave it actual lore and a serious plotline and they got Elijah Wood to play Spyro and David Spade to play Sparx. Yes, it was indeed mostly dreadful, and this DS incarnation of the first game is no exception to that rule. Unfortunately, the developers decided in an act of tremendous wisdom that you must use the console buttons and stylus at the same time, with taps of said plastic wand used to target enemies as well as break walls and squash insects. "They're too small to fight", says Sparx, "Just squash them". Why, then, you irascible dragonfly, do they kill me in about four hits? Anyway, RSI beckons as you switch between tapping and pressing, targeting an enemy then hitting Y to batter them or A to breathe fire. Apparently you get different breath types; I'm afraid I lost interest before that point.
The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night (DS, 2007)
Okay, there's ambition here. From the opening menu that ducks and dives through a castle in a spectacular fashion (for the DS) to the full-on 3D gameplay, this is one of the better looking polygonal games on the DS. It runs well, too, and has pretty solid level design considering all its limitations; a decent focus on platforming caught my attention in the early game. Sadly, something else caught my attention, too; puzzles. See, in this game, you need to solve puzzles in order to progress. Cool, fun, puzzles. But... they have nothing to do with the game world, or Spyro, or anything. See, I didn't mention it, but A New Beginning had these puzzles to solve, too; you know the one where you need to place and rotate mirrors in order to shine beams of light into the correct position? Yeah, there's a lot of that in this sequel, too - the one thing they didn't change! The presentation of said puzzles is good, and they can be fun to figure out, but... what's any of it got to do with anything?
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon (DS, 2008)
Somewhat oddly (but not uniquely, as you'll discover in part two), this is a side-on 2D platformer much of the time, with a fun little combo system allowing you to juggle enemies. It seems to take inspiration from a game I'll be covering next week, so I won't dwell on it, but the animation here is a little stiff and the actual creatures you're beating up are rather uninteresting. This is the "demake" of the best Legend of Spyro title, so it includes flying stages that again utilise the never-knowingly-comfortable "D-pad plus stylus" control scheme. It's visually impressive, though, and has plenty of variety for those who want to switch between Spyro and his special friend Cynder, utilising their multiple different types of breath attack. It's not a bad little game, and it doesn't have any sodding mirror puzzles. Also, truth be told, this is the only one of the games discussed here that I actually beat, and in just the one sitting if I recall correctly. That's a reasonably high recommendation, I guess?