Wednesday, February 9, 2011

spyro (ps one classic)

RELEASE DATE: 10/2011 PS Plus (Originally 10/1997)
DEVELOPER: Insomniac

Progress: 70%

Commuting can be rough. The monotony of the same trip to work everyday can lead to depression and at its worse needless rage. Looking around any subway car I can see almost everyone's eyes glued to their damned iPhones playing "games". Some of us know the truth, while their are a few exceptions, real games are played on game systems. Lately, I've be chugging through one such game on my PSP. Making progress in 30 minute intervals during my commute. It is safe to say the little dragon named Spyro is helping with my sanity.

I never owned a PS1 myself so I missed Spyro when it was originally released in 1997. I bought my sister a PS1 but it basically became her boyfriend's console. Thanks to my PS Plus subscription I've now been introduced to Spyro and I have Spyro 2 already queued up and ready to go.

Spyro is a little, purple dragon (not to be confused with Figment). Something dreadful has happened to the major dragon families and you have to go save all the dragons encased in crystal. Along the way discovering your abilities and collecting the missing members of the various dragon families. Sparx the dragonfly is along for the ride following Spyro closely and helping find gems. In a genius bit of design Sparx also acts like the player's health meter refillable by feeding him butterflies. It's a fun little romp and you can see the roots of the humor and storytelling that team Insomniac would later use on Ratchet & Clank.

Spyro is the Mario 64 for PS. Simple controls, cutesy graphics and many, many levels to challenge your skills. I sure this game was hailed fondly by critics when it was originally released much as was Mario 64. The game mechanics are not difficult and they adjust to the PSP controls well. As a baby dragon you can't outright fly but you can glide, breath fire, charge an enemy which are essentially the three skills you will hone to beat the game.

Spryo himself seems to be modeled after the movements of a puppy. The way he walks and runs are just like the movements of a small dog. I particularly like when he falls or is picked up by a gust of air, his feet slip out from under him like a dog on a slippery wood floor.

The graphics are pretty dated and angular (a fate suffered by games from this time) though I'm sure were rated very good at release. Viewing them on the 3.5 inch PSP screen is possibly the best way as they look very crisp and the screen size is more forgiving. There are some times where the camera struggles to follow you but (again) like Mario 64 you have controller options to change the camera angle.

Levels start out extremely easy and get more difficult later in the game. Completionists will have a great time finding all of the different levels and collectibles. At any time you can check your inventory to see if you may have missed an item. Which is a handy refresher after a busy day at work you hardly remember where you were at in the game.

While I enjoyed this game a lot, I think most of it was not having played it when it first came out and always wanting too. For your average gamer, with no sentimental attachment to it, this game will not hold up. It is dated looking and if wasn't for the full 3D world to explore and the great character designs it just wouldn't be playable. It would be interesting to hear how someone who played it new in 1997 would feel about it today. Hoping to see some improvements in the sequel.

BONUS: Learn to draw Spyro yourself.

Great for dog lovers


  1. I totally remember playing that game on the PS1. These screenshots bring me back.

  2. Wow. Spyro was the best game ever made and still is. I was only like 4 when I played this game first. Since then I've played it a few dozen times through. Now I've got an emulator on my PC so I can keep playing it.

  3. @MA573rMiND
    I agree, one of the all time favs of many! I'm tempted to pick up Skylanders now just to see how the ol' purple dragon is looking these days.