Just like with Crash Bandicoot, Activision is bringing Spyro's trilogy into the modern age.
Back last year Vicarious Visions' Crash Bandicoot: Nsane Trilogy brought us a nostalgia hit from the era of the original PlayStation when it totally remade the first three games in the series with modern graphics, and now publisher Activision has returned to bring us another trilogy from the platform, this one featuring Spyro the Dragon. The first three games have been remade by Toys for Bob in what's known as the Reignited Trilogy, and this triple bill of old-gen originals have had pretty much the same treatment as Crash, and we've been getting reacquainted with our purple hero's newest outing.
The first thing to make you aware of is that all of the core content is fundamentally the same. When we spoke to the team at E3, they told us that they had their own tool that they called a 'Spyroscope' to map out precise locations for the levels and the items within like gems (since they didn't have the original code for the Insomniac games), and this means that those things that you remember have made the transition over in terms of where everything should be.
What this means is that muscle memory takes over once the initial shock of the new visuals passes, and the same solutions for puzzles, dragons in crystal, and challenges will all feel like you remember them. It's not a remake along the likes of Ratchet and Clank then, where the core concept has remained but the rest has been shifted around - this is faithful to everything large and small we saw back between 1998 to 2000.
That's not to say that there aren't small changes, because there always needs to be when bringing these games into the modern age. The most obvious of these is the new visual style, which is very similar to what we've seen with Crash Bandicoot in the sense that the detail is fantastic. Everything from the individual blades of grass that singe when you breathe fire, the lighting as the sun beats down on Cliff Town from the first game, to Spyro's own facial animations is smooth and polished, so much so that it really feels like a game made for 2018. The colours are a touch brighter as well, which is only to the games' benefit, although all of these new visuals and textures might explain the sizeable download update required even with the physical disc.
Other small changes have been made too, with tweaks like the flying screen between levels changing the camera perspective, orbs on Ripto's Rage (the second game isn't known as Gateway to Glimmer in this package) holding still rather than bouncing towards Spyro, and chanting on the Colossus level. A lot of these are minor and won't affect the experience in any way, but a few small quality of life adjustments have been made, like indicators appearing above character heads when orbs can be collected in the second game, and an option to toggle a mini-map on or off.
Some changes are a tad more noticeable though, like the reinvention of the characters. Of course Spyro is fundamentally the same dragon, but the other protagonists might look a bit different to how you remember them. Sheila from Year of the Dragon is one of the best examples of this, because back in 2000 she was a plain kangaroo, while here she has her own unique hairstyle and an explorer's jacket. It's a very detailed model that might come as a shock to hardcore fans of the original but it gives a splash more flavour to some of the basic concepts we saw 20 years ago.
The audio is also important to take into consideration with remakes like these, and you'll be pleased to know that the music sounds as you remember it for the most part. Stewart Copeland (drummer for The Police, did you know?) wrote a new main theme for the collection, while Toys for Bob's Stephan Vankov remixed all of his original music for the first three games, meaning, for the most part, it's very similar. The new soundtrack is much richer and even dynamic in nature too though, reacting to the game and suiting the visual polish nicely.
Some levels, however, such as Enchanted Towers from the third game, sound dramatically different from the original, so much so that it was no longer memorable. A minor point, but one that could prove major for hardcore fans, even if they have the option to switch to the original soundtrack at any time.
Speaking of fans of the original, they'll no doubt be pleased to hear that Tom Kenny - who voiced Spyro in the second and third games - is returning to voice all three this time around, and does a great job once again at delivering a hero with charm and character. We even think the script remains the same too, as we noticed the same standout moments like Gunnar cutting us off when we say we want to "kick some..." in the Peace Keepers world of the first game.
Of course, the controls and how Spyro handles are hugely important too, and we found that it was just as fun and fluid to control Spyro as it was before. That's not to say that it felt the same, because it doesn't. Perhaps because of the changes in terms of animations, or from tweaks on Toys for Bob's part, it feels different controlling Spyro; the height on the jump when charging feels new and the hop at the end of the glide feels higher, for example. They aren't major tweaks that change the experience majorly, but they're certainly noticeable.
On the one hand, some of these changes make the game a bit easier, like the aforementioned hop, the quality of life changes, and the fact that the supercharge power-up is far less intense and handles much better. Some changes take some getting used to and can be a bit tricky though (it's not as hard as the Nsane Trilogy - don't worry), including the longer glides, as landing on those ledges can prove a little tough. It might be because the edges are more rounded than they were on the original levels, which made us slide off a bit more often than we'd have liked.
There's a lot of examples given here as to what's been changed and why, but all you really need to know is that these changes are nothing more than tweaks to the smaller elements of the experience. The core content is exactly the same as it was 20 years ago, and as such it's an incredibly faithful recreation of three outstanding platformers, one that refreshes the image and brings the games into 2018 while keeping what made them so brilliant in the first place.
9 / 10
Core content the same, Remixed and rich music, Visuals are shiny and detailed, Quality of life improvements, Audio is great, Controls are smooth and fluid.
Big changes to elements like characters and music might not sit right with everyone, Minor camera issues.