Spyro makes a return in September of this year with a complete remake of the original trilogy of games. Activision’s previous efforts to bring a beloved platformer back were well-received when they released Crash Bandicoot last year. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy may be coming from a different developer–Skylanders‘ Toys for Bob–but Spyro still feels every bit as faithful to the originals as Vicarious Visions’ Crash did.
That feeling of muscle memory is what’s most important to reignite the nostalgia for a 20-year old game. Toys for Bob analyzed the original games’ movements, animations, attacks, and abilities frame by frame to ensure that the game they were building felt just like the Spyro we remembered. Likewise, the levels are designed to be identical with the same play space to roam around in and perfect placement of every gem, enemy, and item.
While Spyro was quite advanced for its time, rose-tinted glasses and feckless nostalgia can make fools of us all. Hardware limitations held the game back from being able really populate the sparse environments, but as one of the games that pioneered the relatively open-world 3D-platformer genre, we were willing to overlook flat textures and the lack of embellishments. Toys for Bob then dove into our memories to extract not only a perfect recreation of classic Spyro, but the classic Spyro we remember. Green grass fills the areas. Objects are given more standout cosmetic features. The development team pulled from the intent suggestions present in the original game, and what they were trying to do visually, overcoming some of the limitations it had twenty years ago.
After explaining all of this, I had a chance to get my hands on a couple levels, and can safely say that Spyro feels just like I remember it. Dashing around, breathing fire, jumping, and gliding brought those memories flooding back, and it’s all in a beautiful visual recreation that is Spyro unlike we’ve ever seen Spyro before. The voice acting is all re-recorded, featuring Tom Kenny doing the voice work for all three games and it sounds fantastic.
Don’t worry, audio and visuals prove that Toys for Bob is stepping away from the Skylanders redesign of Spyro, and while much of Spyro might look different (such as unique designs for each of the Artisan dragons, as opposed to re-colored character models that were found in the original), it’s all done with the intent and suggestions of what the original designs wanted to be, but were too limited in resources to realize. There are a number of other high-profile voice actors coming back as well, but Toys for Bob isn’t quite ready to talk about them just yet.
I got to play three levels: Toasty, an early level from Spyro the Dragon; Tree Tops, one of the most notoriously difficult levels from Spyro the Dragon; and Sunny Flight, one of the secret flying levels from that original game. Part of me wishes that I had been able to see some examples from the latter two games as well, but it was still amazing to see how much Toys for Bob brought the original game to life while also maintaining the classic Spyro feel. In a game like this, that’s what’s most important. It needs to balance meaningful updates to the visuals with making sure it still feels like the classic.
After getting a little bit of time with Spyro, I’m eager to play more, collect every gem, free every dragon, and get Platinum trophies all around. Much like Crash, there’s still an air of difficulty that surrounds the purple dragon, and I’m eager to see just how much this new Spyro can challenge me.