Every gamer has that one game they have the fondest memories of from their past. For a lot of people, a certain portly Plummer has that distinction, but not for me. Growing up in Greece, we didn’t have a video game console but we had a store where we could rent out time with certain video games. While the other kids played the latest games for the N64 or Dreamcast, I would spend hours playing nothing but Spyro.
When Activision and Toys for Bob announced they would be releasing a complete remastered version of the games (appropriately called Spyro Reignited Trilogy) you better believe I was giddy with excitement. When I found out Activision would be holding a private gameplay session and we were invited, you better believe I fainted like an actress in the 1950s.
The gameplay walkthrough was held inside the same pricey hotel where I played the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Future Tense level. Activision Producer Lou Studdert once again hosted the event, reminding us that Spyro Reignited Trilogy would include all three original games, Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Revenge, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon which is slated to release on PS4 and Xbox One September 21, 2018.
Studdert gave the floor to the two people who would be taking us through the demo: Paul Yan (Toys for Bob Studio Head/Chief Creative Officer) and Peter Kavic (Senior Producer). The first level they showed was “Toasty” and the differences from the original game to the remake are ridiculously clear. The Toys for Bob team found a way (using a system their team invented called Spyroscope) to capture the uniqueness of the character Spyro along with the other creatures he interacts with and bring them to the modern world. Seeing the way the blades of grass swayed, the gems shined, and the enemies reacted in brilliant 4K was enough for me to make the decision to purchase a 4K system just for Spyro Reignited Trilogy. However, that’s not the only thing they brought up to today’s standards.
The original game featured rather unoriginal dragons that had no character with few (to no) distinguishing features. That was a huge point the developers wanted to correct for this Reignited Trilogy. The fruits of their labor ripened into an entire roster of original, different, artisanal dragons for all gamers to remember and enjoy.
Another important aspect the team wanted to improve upon was the audio. It’s understandable if most don’t remember, since it’s been almost 20 years, but Spyro featured a metric ton of music, sound bites, and voiceover; mainly done by Tom Kenny. Using the original script from all of the games, they brought Kenny in to voice the dragon he had a part in making iconic. We heard some of the tiny one liners he voiced and it’s definitely the original script from 20 years ago.
Bringing the audio to the modern age wasn’t a walk in the park, though. The developers had to cycle through hours of classic Spyro games, in search of each and every bit of audio they could find. Sometimes what they found was purely happenstance. Yan and Kavic told a story about one of their genius team members that just stumbled upon the classic 1-Up sound bite in a random file and no one could explain where it came from; but adding it helps the game feel even more complete.
Furthermore, taking the audio from mono to the full surround sound way we listen to media these days wasn’t easy either. They had to revamp everything, but the result is crisp, clear gorgeous audio with subtleties that changes in different situations. For instance, when you’re running through a cave, the audio goes from vibrant and bright to enclosed and subdued. When you jump into a boss battle, the audio noticeably changes to a more upbeat rhythm that makes the battle feel epic. Most gamers notice graphics before audio but the team Spyro Reignited Trilogy should be commended for this remarkable feat of innovation.
There was a lot they couldn’t show us during the demo, but they emphasized that the charming campiness of the previous games were going to be featured all throughout Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Additionally, they also couldn’t talk about any new levels but they did show us a demo of the Spyro flight simulator. Kavic asked, jokingly, if we wanted to see him fail at the level or if we wanted to play the level ourselves. We humored him and asked him to show us how it was done.
Flying through this trial looked smooth. The explosive elements of blowing up cargo looked damaging enough to effect Spyro, and the water hazard underneath you looked crystal clear. Upon playing it myself, I found that the controls were inverted. Whether they can be changed to standard or not remains to be seen, but even under inverted controls, flying felt easy to master.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy has truly been a passion project for Toys for Bob. Much like they did with Skylanders, they thought a lot about the fans and about they would want from a nostalgic Spyro remaster. They wanted to make it challenging (which they did; “Tree Falls” was TOUGH) and nuanced, while keeping what made the original trilogy amazing.
The result is a trilogy that I believe fans will love and appreciate. It made the 8 year old kid in me grin from ear to ear as I watched the dragon I grew up with fly through the air like he always should have.