If you’ve been following our reviews of the original Spyro trilogy, thanks! If not, well you’re the one missing out, but don’t worry, you can still catch up. If you haven’t read the review of Spyro the Dragon and Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!, then you can just by clicking on them.
However, this is the review for Spyro: Year of the Dragon, so let’s get on with it.
What Is It?
It’s Spyro: Year of the Dragon, the third game in the Spyro series. Released in the year 2000, the Chinese Year of the Dragon.
Spyro and his mates are celebrating the Year of the Dragon, the time when new dragon eggs are delivered to the Dragon Realms.
However, not all goes to plan, the egg’s get stolen by a hooded figure who is working under the main villain of the game, The Sorceress.
Spyro and his trusty friends, Sparx and Hunter are sent to retrieve the stolen eggs and restore the magic to the Dragon Realms.
The story is the best of the series, introducing numerous new characters, each with their own quirky personalities. The story won’t be winning any awards for originality, but it’s good enough to get you through the game and the cut scenes do provide some hilarious moments.
This is the main reason anybody plays a Spyro game, the gameplay is always fantastic and you can rely on a Spyro game for some fun. Year of the Dragon is no exception, in fact, it’s the best of the series, surpassing every other title before and after it’s release.
The standard movement is all there, with some added features such as climbing and swimming underwater, which were present in Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! but required you to pay that scum bag Moneybags. Here, they’re available straight from the go, though Moneybags is still present and ready to accept your gems. Some things never change…
Where in previous games you played as Spyro, this time around you’ll be able to take on the Rhynocs, the Sorceress’ minions, as some of Spyro’s new-found friends. You’ll be hopping around as Sheila the kangaroo, flying around as Sergeant Byrd whilst dropping bombs, as well as numerous other characters. That’s not all though, as well as new characters to play as, there’s also a whole host of mini-games that you can go back to and replay in your own time.
Enemies are your standard affair with the typical boss levels included as you move from each of the four worlds in your quest to retrieve all of the dragon eggs. Of course, as is standard with the Spyro games, the difficulty gets ramped up the further you go into the game, you know the drill here.
Insomniac went all out on the fun for what was their last entry in the Spyro series, before it was handed over to other developers. It shows too, because this time around you have got more levels, more characters, more collectibles and hours more fun that is incomparable to anything else released on the humble Playstation 1.
Graphically, it’s a lot better than Spyro the Dragon, but not much of an improvement over Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!, that’s because at the time, Spyro: Year of the Dragon was pushing the boundaries of what was possible on the hardware available at the time. It by no account looks horrible, but it’s not going to be on the same level as anything released today, if you go into Spyro expecting that, then you’re going to be disappointed.
The graphics are more than good enough to play with and don’t look that bad even today. The many levels are well designed and fleshed out with vibrant colours that make it a pleasure to be look at. Characters are well animated and look good, though some do look a bit dodgy with the odd graphical glitch occurring very rarely.
As I’ve recommended in the reviews for both Spyro the Dragon and Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!, for a more visually pleasing experience, play it on the PS Vita if you have one. If not, get out and buy one, they’re fantastic.
Once again the music is composed by Stewart Copeland, former drummer of The Police. If you enjoyed the music of the first two Spyro games, you’re going to be just as pleased with what lulls your eardrums in Spyro: Year of the Dragon. The music is without a doubt an integral part of the game, I can’t even imagine playing Spyro without it.
Characters are once again given voices, with the voice actors playing their parts brilliantly. Yeah the lines may be a little cheesy, but it’s all good fun, they weren’t looking for an Oscar with this gig.
In all my years of gaming, nothing even comes close to the amount of fun you can have in Spyro: Year of the Dragon. It’s one of the few rarities that will still be played in the next ten years. If you’re looking for a game that you can either play at home on the couch, or take on the road on your PSP or PS Vita, then I have got only one recommendation: Spyro: Year of the Dragon.
Presentation: One again the menu is well presented and easy to navigate. The in-game pause menu also provides some good insight into how you’re progressing through the game, without being a minefield of statistical data. 9
Graphics: The graphics are better than the average Playstation One game, and definitely better than the previous games in the series. Worlds are bigger and better, characters are wonderfully animated and the whole experience is a visual wonder. 9
Sound: The music is the series best, each world has it’s own sound that brilliantly captures the essence of what it’s all about. Characters are voiced brilliantly and provide some humour along the way. 10
Gameplay: Platforming, mini games, extra playable characters, collectibles and a huge amount of levels to play though, Spyro: Year of the Dragon has it all. You simply can’t fault the amount of content on offer, it’s fun at its very definition. 10