A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is a collection of three kids' adventure games originally released for PlayStation 1 that have been remastered for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. They star a cartoonish little dragon who takes on evil goblins, human wizards, and other creatures by breathing fire and ramming them with his horned head. Defeated enemies sometimes appear blackened from being burned before quickly disappearing. Spyro is a classic good guy, eager to help those in need and courageously take on villains, but he's also a bit reckless at times. Enemies he attacks are clearly evil -- sometimes comically taunting Spyro by doing things like mooning him with a small bit of "plumber's butt" -- but Spyro also hunts wild animals, including frogs and goats, that aren't really a threat to him. If Spyro seems familiar, it may be because in addition to these classic games he has appeared in the more recent Skylanders series as a fan-favorite character.
What's it about?
Before there was Skylanders there was Spyro, a little purple dragon who starred in a trio of classic adventures that have been remastered for modern consoles and collected together in SPYRO: REIGNITED TRILOGY. The three games included here -- Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon -- all launched on the original PlayStation between 1998 and 2000, and were similar to 3D Mario and Donkey Kong games Nintendo was producing around the same time. But the Spyro games had their own unique appeal in the form of a charismatic little hero who proved that big things can come in small packages. These games had instantly intuitive controls for running, jumping, gliding, and attacking, as well as a beautiful aesthetic that included cartoonish fantasy worlds and gentle acoustic guitar-driven scores. All of this has been faithfully captured in this new anthology, with graphics that have been enhanced for today's consoles and a few modern perks to help bring these games forward in time, such as an optional mini-map that appears in the bottom corner of the screen to give players a better sense of where they are and what they've yet to explore. The core of these games remains in collecting gems and items, doing lighthearted battle with simple enemies, and exploring every nook and cranny of the many worlds that are slowly unlocked through play -- all timeless activities still found in many current games.
Is it any good?
While not as complex as today's games, and the enhanced visuals don't match today's best 3D running and jumping adventures, these three classic games nonetheless manage to stand the test of time. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy's action remains instantly compelling. Slightly dizzying camera movement aside (thankfully, you can switch between active and passive camera modes in the menu), controlling Spyro as he runs, leaps, glides, shoots flames, and head butts enemies through a variety of imaginatively designed levels still feels great. And collecting items, discovering places, and unlocking new abilities provides all the reason necessary to see all three games through to their respective conclusions. The plot still barely exists beyond some amusing little interactions between characters (which basically develop personalities instead of a cohesive story), but if we started analyzing the simplistic tales of decades-old 3D adventures, then even classic games wouldn't escape criticism.
Whether today's kids will be satisfied by these older games is an open question, but anyone interested in understanding the evolution of a classic series is in for a treat. Though these games launched over a short time -- just three years -- they quickly progressed in design, growing longer, less repetitive, and more complex. More memorable non-player characters are introduced in the second and third games, unexpected yet satisfying challenges -- like skateboarding -- are added, and Spyro learns useful new abilities, such as how to hover and climb. This anthology shows how the talented designers at Insomniac Games -- who would later go on to create the blockbuster Ratchet & Clank games, and, more recently, Marvel's Spider-Man -- cut their teeth before eventually becoming recognized masters of 3D action/adventure games. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is an easy recommendation for any family who counts among its members players with an appreciation of not only today's games, but the history of the medium.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about character strengths. Spyro is a classic hero, but he isn't faultless. What are some of his best qualities? What could he work on?
Do you think most games' bad guys are fairly portrayed? Would you like to know more about their pasts and potential motivations to understand why they do what they do?
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