Spyro the Dragon was a huge hit for the PS1, bright, colourful & with excellent gameplay that entertained all ages. The series has spawned more sequels & spinoffs over the years to varying results & nowadays the purple dragon isn’t exactly held in high regard.
It’s a pity because the PS1 games were all great, building on what had come before & improving it just enough. Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage isn’t as fondly remembered as the original but in many areas it is actually a superior game.
The plot is simple enough…Spyro & his dragonfly partner, Sparx decide to take a vacation to Dragon Shores but get whisked away to the realm of Avalar instead. Turns out he was summoned by a group of freedom fighters, Hunter the Cheetah, Elora the Faun & the Professor. They need a dragon help to fight Ripto who is trying to take over Avalar with his minions.
Spyro & Sparx get stranded when Ripto attacks them, destroying the portal he came through so agree to help defeat him so they can back home.
There are three main world hubs (Summer Forest, Autumn Plains, and the Winter Tundra) with portals to various levels within them (similar to how the first games worlds were). The aim is to beat each level gaining the talisman for that area before taking on the boss of the area. At the end of the 3 worlds & their accompanying levels is a boss bottle with Ripto himself.
The levels & worlds are visual treats with some really imaginative themes behind them. It is exciting to see just what is coming up next & to add replay value to each there is side-missions to complete as well.
NPC characters will offer Spyro tasks & challenges in each level that when completed gift the dragon with a green orb. A number of these orbs are necessary to progress through to the end of the game as well as opening gateways to certain levels. These range in difficulty with some of the later ones being fiendishly tough.
Fans will be instantly comfortable with the gameplay of Spyro 2 as it is pretty much identical to the first game. Gems make their return but have more of a purpose here as they are needed to pay the character Moneybags to unlock areas of the game, unlock portals & learn new abilities.
Spyro can learn how to dive underwater (offering a different kind of level although frustrating as hell when it comes to collecting all gems), climb certain walls & do a head-smashing attack that can break rocks & cages. As you can probably tell all of these are necessary if you want to finish the game fully.
Spyro controls & attacks in the same fashion as before with a charge attack & flame breath needed to defeat the inventive & unique enemies throughout the land of Avalar. In addition each level has a power-up gate that is activated when enough enemies are defeated. Activate a gate & Spyro will gain a temporary super-ability such as flying, invulnerability & a super jump!
The health bar is still measured by the colour of Sparx who will change colour before disappearing completely as Spyro takes damage. If Sparx is gone than the dragon can only take one more hit!
Visually Spyro is a treat with all its glorious colours & well designed levels but manages to look sharper & more detailed than the first game. Musically it also excels with some memorable pieces of music (in particular the hubs) that you’ll be humming for a while afterwards.
The game is a step forward choosing not to just stand still & cash in on the huge success of the first.
Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage