The world is a little bit of a mess in 2019, so it’s unsurprising that 90’s and early naughties nostalgia is so in vogue right now. Young adults are looking to bring back the warm fuzzies of their earlier, simpler lives when the world wasn’t in chaos and most videogames were simple 3D platformers with colourful mascots. After the roaring success enjoyed by the remake of the original Crash Bandicoot Trilogy, Spyro quickly received the same treatment. It’s now arrived on Switch and serves as a fantastic reminder of the joy of simple cartoon platformers that is mostly forgotten today.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy brings together the original Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Revenge and Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon into one vibrant and jam-packed nostalgic feast. The level of care and detail poured into these remakes is commendable, as they lovingly breathe new life into these worlds with an eye-popping palette and excellent reimagining of the original character designs. It oozes charm from every seam, with tiny flourishes and touches adding character to every locale.
Very little has been lost in the transition to Switch. Helped in equal parts by the cartoonish aesthetic as much as excellent porting work, the games still look fantastic on the lower-powered device. It’s obviously not on par with the more powerful rival consoles; textures appear a little flatter, jagged edges are more obvious, and the frame rate is more prone to the occasional stutter. There’s also a niggling checkerboarding effect visible when the camera pans that I didn’t notice on the Xbox One version. These issues don’t detract too much from the overall presentation though, particularly when played in handheld where the smaller screen disguises a lot of these minor issues.
Under the fresh coat of paint is the same platformers that were so revered back in the PlayStation era. Each game sees you traversing a variety of colourful landscapes in search of collectable gems and other trinkets on your way through to the end of each stage. The platforming and combat are simple and don’t pose much in the way of a challenge, with only a few occasions requiring careful jumping and gliding to reach tricky spots. Scattered throughout the more typical stages are flying levels where you’ll need to shoot down a series of objects in a small area or race through gates. These are a refreshing mix up and prove to be some of the most difficult challenges the game presents.
Combat boils down to just a headbutt and flame attack, with usually just one or a combination being needed to take foes down. There are a few puzzles sprinkled in for good measure, though again there’s little here that will challenge the grey matter. Some of the boss battles combine combat and puzzle elements for unique encounters that force you to rethink your typical approach to combat, and they’re brought to life with some excellent designs and top-notch voice acting, as are the rest of the cast of colourful characters.
Each game brings something a little different to the table, and it’s fun to see the growth the series has throughout the years. The original adventure is the simplest of the three, tasking you only with finding gems and dragons in what are relatively small-scale environments. The sequel adds some new moves to Spryo’s repertoire, including a small hop at the end of a glide, the ability to climb up ladders, swim underwater and more. There are also orbs that can be obtained by reaching hard to reach places or completing certain objectives, many of which take the form of new minigames which add some additional variety to proceedings.
The final game in the trilogy takes these improvements and amplifies them, offering much larger levels, more minigames and challenges and even throws in some bonus characters to play as with different abilities. The level of variety on offer makes this probably the strongest of the three, but they all have their own distinct charm that you’ll come to appreciate. Each game can be blasted through quickly if you’re just headed for the finish line but hunting down every collectable adds a substantial amount of playtime to the experience.
There’s not a lot of complexity here, but that’s all part of the charm. There’s a simple, undeniable joy about a series of games that just wants you to run around some beautiful scenery as a little dragon, scouting for hidden goodies along the way. It’s an easy way to unwind, switch off and relax rather than worrying about twitch reflexes or punishing difficulty. That may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a great set of games to have if you just need the videogame equivalent of a sitcom or cartoon.
Whether you grew up with these games or not, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a loveable reminder of games from a different era, and you’ll likely be grinning the whole time.