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PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

Developer: Insomniac games OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1 Player
Game Type: 3rd person action / adventure Memory Card
Review Date: September 1998 Dual Shock

Setting the Scene

Welcome to the wonderfully whimsical tale of a young dragon named Spyro.
An evil villain named Gnasty Gnorc has cast a spell that has turned all
of the dragons of the world into stone.  Luckily for Spyro, he was too
small to be hit by the spell and now must go about rescuing all of his

Spyro is helped along the way by his sidekick (or perhaps I should say
"tailkick") pal Sparx, a tiny dragonfly.  

Get ready to travel to multiple worlds filled with all sorts of wacky
creatures and challenges as Spyro goes about restoring the dragon
families to their former glory and ultimately facing Gnasty Gnorc


Spyro is a 3D 3rd person action / adventure title.  It is a "go
anywhere" type of game limited only by the predefined boarders or stuff
you just can't get around.  The 3D illusion created by this title is


Kind of knowing what to expect having seen the unfinished game at E3 was
one thing...sitting down with the final version was quite another.  The
graphics in Spyro are nothing short of phenomenal.  Right from the start
of the game you are exposed to some of the best graphics that the
Playstation has to offer.

The characters are large, extremely well defined and presented in a
multitude of bright, rich colors.  The texture mapped polygons that make
up Spyro and the other creatures are smooth and very lifelike.  The
amazing thing is that there is barely any polygon seaming and breakups.
Only in rare instances do you see even a hint of on the
occasions when Spyro is climbing stairs and the camera is in just the
right (wrong?) position.  Hardly anything to fret over to be sure.

Considering the size and amount of characters on the screen, I was
repeatedly amazed at the amount of animation that is used.  Not only is
Spyro incredibly animated but virtually all of the other characters, as
well as a large assortment of objects share this wonderful feature.  The
game seems to be alive and in constant motion as a result.  No matter
where you look, there is always something going on.  Fine details like
castle flags and flowers moving to the breeze, cannon balls that billow
smoke and fire and then impact into a particle filled explosion.  Just
wait until you see the flames surging from Spyro's nose or the fine
detail in which his wings flap or his eyes convey will
blow you away.

I can go on and on about just how good this game pop up, no
fog, no slowdown, a wonderful anti-aliasing software routine to smooth
out the edges, the overall look of game's just so
spectacular that it must be seen and played to be believed.  Insomniac
has developed a game engine and graphical showcase that would turn old
Mario red with embarrassment. 

About the only thing that I felt could have been done better was the
water.  In the wide-open area where Spyro has an ocean surrounding him,
the water looks painted and lifeless.  I guess there just wasn't another
polygon or two to spare to liven the water up a bit.  

Believe me though, this is being nitpicky in the extreme.  These are the
best graphics you are likely to see on the Playstation (boy how many
times have I said that and been wrong!) unless there is still untapped
potential that hasn't been used yet.  I wonder...

Sounds and Effects

Great sounds and effects...great music.  

The sound effects made by the characters seem to echo their
personalities to a T.  One in particular was extremely effective on
me...the mocking "nah, nah, nah, nah, nah" of the thief.  It always made
me want to track him down, rip off his head and toast it like a
marshmallow....errrr.  There are all sorts of subtle sounds going on
around you at any given moment that just make the whole world seem very
much alive and active.

The music is wonderfully composed by one of my favorite musicians,
Stewart Copeland, formally from the band "The Police" who is probably
one of the most versatile and talented artists to hit the music scene.
Each level has its own distinctive musical theme that works remarkably
well for the environment.  This is definitely one of the "hipper"
soundtracks you are likely to find in a game.


When a game has it all, you might just as well know it right from the
get go.  The gameplay in Spyro is flawless and addicting.  If you make a
mistake, it's because YOU made the mistake, not some crappy camera angle
or lame character control.  Playing this game is almost effortless
because it is just so damn engrossing.

Controlling Spyro is as easy as moving the thumb stick and pointing the
little dragon in the direction you want him to travel in.  The camera
does a very good in tracking our little hero but does have a tendency to
get in front of the character causing you to have to manually move it
around to the back again.  To remedy this you have a zoom button that
works very similarly to the one in Tomb Raider or Gex.  Push the
triangle button and you instantly get a chase view directly over the
back of Spyro's head.  Holding the button in allows you to look around
your environment without the character traveling.  This is also helpful
in lining up the glides that Spyro executes.  

Speaking of best take your time in brushing up on this
particular skill, as it is Spyro's ultimate form of transportation.
Many items (and dragons) require careful gliding techniques to reach

All of the buttons on the controller are used but there really isn't to
much to remember...its almost second nature.  The "X" button causes
Spyro to jump.  Push it twice and hold it for a glide.  The "O" button
shouts fire, the "square" enables the little beast to run and charge.
The "triangle" we've already covered which leaves the shoulder buttons.
Pressing R1 or L1 causes Spyro to roll right or left and the R2 / L2
pans the camera around.  Oh, the "start" button pauses the game and
brings up your inventory and options menu.

You have a choice between an active or passive camera.  Basically the
passive camera just moves around a bit more slowly allowing you to get a
better look at the scenery.  The active camera moves and tracks a lot
quicker.  Your call...they both work well.

As I said earlier, the actual gameplay is engrossing.  You get to
control Spyro through multiple worlds that are chock-full of interesting
creatures and treasures to discover.  The main goal is for the little
runt to locate all of the dragon families that have been turned to stone
by the evil Gnasty Gnorc and release them from their rocky prison.
Along the way you are busy fighting the inhabitants, solving relatively
easy puzzles and collecting all the jewels that have been stolen by
Gnorc.  Ultimately you will have to face the evil villain himself and
defeat him so that he can never cast his spells again.  

I would also be negligent if I didn't mention the fine use of the dual
shock's great.  There are varying degrees of vibration that
is transmitted through the controller depending on the situation.
Landing from smooth glides give you a mild tingle...get bashed over the
head from an enemy and you feel a nice buzz.... 

The game ramps up in difficulty at a nice gradual pace.  The first world
is basically a good stomping ground to hone your skills and to prepare
for what lies ahead.  

To help you along in your adventure you are tailed by a dragonfly named
Sparx.  Sparx has the ability to take several hits for you, thus
protecting Spyro from a "one shot your out" scenario.  Each time Spyro
get hit, the dragonfly will turn a different color until finally it
disappears completely, leaving our diminutive dragon defenseless.
Luckily there are certain creatures in each world that can be toasted
and turned into butterflies, which just happen to be Sparx's favorite
energy food.

There are a total of five main worlds plus a sixth world in which you
face Gnasty.  In each world are portals, which carry you to levels
within the worlds.  Each world has its own theme and strange creatures
to go along.  Lying about is the stolen jewels that you need to collect
and ultimately bring back to the dragon families.  Eliminating creatures
will usually yield jewels as well.  Each level on each world has a
predetermined number of jewels...getting them all is the challenge.

Occasionally you will encounter a thief.  Catch him and you are rewarded
with a rare dragon egg.  Each world has a certain number of these as
well.  Finally, if you are lucky, you will find bonus rounds buried on
most worlds.  The bonus rounds are pretty awesome and can be re-visited
as often as you like or until you complete them.

Bosses are also scattered about here and there and normally bestow a
handsome cache of jewels once defeated.

The game is played out in a totally non-linear manner.  You can jump in
and out of levels whenever you please and once you are done to your
satisfaction, you can catch a balloon ride to the next world.

There is a ton of stuff to see and discover in this game and I don't
want to spoil it for you...discovering is after all half the fun.  Spyro
is most definitely aimed at a younger audience as most of the puzzles
are rather simple and the overall presentation of the game
is...well...cute.   Even so, if you are in the above 16 year old segment
don't let that stop you from enjoying what is quite easily one of the
best games ever made for the Playstation.

Value for Money

Spyro has quite a lot to it.  Five plus worlds with multiple levels
with-in each world.  Bonus rounds, creatures to meet and then burn...yep
a lot of cool stuff like that.

The game is pretty long and the levels in some worlds being down right
huge!  There are a good many things to discover and if you want to find
all of the jewels and all of the dragon eggs and all of the secret bonus
rounds you can be playing the game for quite a few hours.

Good thing because the game is so damn good you probably won't want it
to end!
GRAPHICS: 19/20 Spyro the Dragon is easily one of the best titles to come along for a home console system. Everything about the game just feels right...from the flawless control and gameplay mechanics, to the killer graphics and musical arrangements, the game is a winner.

If you really want to play a game that is totally absorbing, entertaining, amusing and comical, snag yourself a copy of won't be sorry you did.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 19/20


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