All Together Then: Weirdo Spyro, Part 2
Our look at Spyro's lesser-known games Advances
That's right. I covered all those Nintendo DS Spyro titles that nobody ever talks about, and now I'm going to do the same for the GBA efforts. And yes, that'll bring us into the orbit of the Legend of Spyro reboot series once again, but there's nothing I can do about that and you're just going to have to grin and bear it. Thankfully, most of these games are pretty interesting, with some of them being downright darn-right good. Which is just lovely, isn't it? Right, here we go with part 2. What do you say, go for a part 3 with the console games? Yes? Good? Good.
All Together Then!
Spyro: Season of Ice/Season of Flame/Attack of the Rhynocs
Yeah, I've grouped these together because they're all very similar. Don't jump down my throat, I know that they iterate on one another and add new gameplay, but at their heart these are basically isometric action-adventures that task you with enormous amounts of gem-collecting and item-gathering, occasionally stopping to change things up to varying effect. Season of Ice is pretty much straightforward, though it lacks quality-of-life features which improve its sequels, and the flight levels feel thrown-together. Season of Flame is a huge improvement (though Ice isn't bad by any means), with stronger level design, tighter controls and much more gameplay with the introduction of other playable characters from Spyro: Year of the Dragon. Attack of the Rhynocs is my personal favourite, though I acknowledge that Season of Flame's less fetch-questy structure may appeal to more players. All three are superb, underappreciated games, and still hold up today, though they sparkle much more on actual small-screen handhelds than they do blown up on a TV screen, for example.
Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy
A Spyro/Crash Bandicoot crossover should be a cause for celebration, and with Vicarious Visions (Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure) on development it should have been a home run. But alas, alack, Spyro Orange is bollocks. Mega-bollocks, in fact. A mini-game collection, of all things, with only a small handful of mini-games and absolutely appalling platforming segments between them with zero jeopardy and nothing that remotely tickles the old "fun" gland. None of the games really feel like they take any advantage of either the Spyro or Crash elements, and the tacked-on trading card aspect feels totally unengaging. Of course, there's also Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage which you can link up with to trade said cards, but why would you bother? Shoddy stuff. HOWEVER: It does contain the Best Thing Ever, which is Crash Party USA, a silly little easter egg accessed by holding the L & R buttons before turning on your GBA. It's a rubbish little dancing game, but also an utterly bizarre inclusion, with a sister Spyro Party USA version available via the same method and a copy of Crash Bandicoot Purple.
The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning
We're back in reboot territory now, lads, and things aren't going very well at all. They've once again made it a 2D platformer for god knows what reason, and the visuals and sound are dreadful. Samples sound like they've been very poorly compressed for GBA, but I guess that was easier than making new, fitting ones. There's a lot of combat here, which mostly revolves around you tapping the B button. You'll get locked into areas until you defeat all the shitty, identical-looking fungus and apes. It's not dreadful, but it feels very much "will this do?" It's not by Vicarious Visions, who made a lot of licensed GBA platformers that were shockingly better than you'd expect (article coming soon), and it suffers very much from its bland, samey content. It's probably better than the DS version, though, as is our next rather infamous game...
The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night
Yes indeedy, this is a fairly well-known game, thanks to its shockingly intricate combo system. Yes, Spyro here can fight in a manner more like Devil May Cry than was strictly necessary, able to chain tech and juggle enemies to amass points. It's a very, very strange inclusion that smacks a little of the developers getting ideas above their station, but it certainly makes the game more memorable. It all looks pretty fantastic, and taking all of the various ingredients into account, you've got a recipe for a banger here. Unfortunately I found the level design somewhat lacklustre, and the combat being basically the only thing got pretty old for me pretty fast, but you may disagree. Many do. It's a curate's egg of a game for sure, but what I want from Spyro and what Eternal Night actually offers couldn't be more different.
Ah well. One more blog to go.