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Spyro the Dragon was my gateway to 3D platformers but Spyro 2 is the one I spent the most time with. I think I got it as a birthday or Christmas gift one year but before that, I would play it at my cousins and friend’s houses often. Of course, my play time was limited since I didn’t own it but there was something about the game that really captivated me and when I finally acquired my copy, I was obsessed. Even after Year of the Dragon came out and I beat it, I would still return to Spyro 2. There was one summer where I completed the game over twenty times. Developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! was released for the PlayStation in November, 1999. For this review, I played the Reignited version which is part of the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, released in November, 2018 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and I played it on an Xbox One X.
Spyro and Sparx decide to take a vacation to Dragon Shores but after going through the portal, they end up in the realm of Avalar. There they meet Elora the Faun, Hunter the Cheetah, and the Professor. Spyro was summoned to defeat Ripto, an evil dinosaur-like dude, who was inadvertently summoned to Avalar and decided to conquer the realm. In order to defeat Ripto and his two minions, Crush and Gulp, Spyro must collect the various Talismans and orbs from each world or level. There are several cut scenes throughout the game which cover major events and there are intro and ending cut scenes for each level. The story is simple and cartoon-y and much of the dialogue is humorous as are the antics of the NPCs. Many of the voice performances in Reignited are different compared to the performances in the original game. Tom Kenny voices Spyro and does a great job. Spyro 2 should take you a bit longer to beat than the first game but if you know where everything is already, it won’t take you very long at all. It took me a little over seven hours to reach one hundred percent completion.
Spyro can walk, jump, charge, roll left and right, glide, and pick up and spit out small objects like rocks and seeds. Spyro can now hover for extra height at the end of a glide. Sparx returns as Spyro’s friend and represents his health. His color changes with each hit Spyro takes until he disappears. If Sparx is gone and Spyro takes another hit, he dies and loses a life. Killing the innocent creatures roaming around the environments will result in butterflies that Sparx can eat which restores Spyro’s health. If Sparx is gone, a butterfly will turn into Sparx. Blue butterflies grant you an extra life. Sparx will help Spyro by pointing to the location of gems in the environments at the press of a button and he will nab any treasure near Spyro. Gems can be found scattered around the environments, just lying around or in chests and containers. Gems not only act as a form of collectibles but also currency. Moneybags is an NPC you’ll frequently encounter and he will charge you a fee to grant you access to new areas and to teach new abilities. Moneybags can teach Spyro to swim underwater, climb, and headbash and these abilities are required to obtain orbs and gems in certain levels so you’ll probably have to come back to these levels later on. Your Guidebook will show you what your completion percentage is for each level and you can also use it to fast travel to any already explored levels. Just like the previous game, the camera sucks and it really shows when you’re swimming underwater. It often works against you, you can’t always see what you need to see, and it can make accomplishing certain objectives a nightmare.
The realm of Avalar is split into three home worlds – Summer Forest, Autumn Plains, and Winter Tundra. You can travel between them using the warps in each home world. Every home world has gems and orbs lying around for Spyro to collect as well as their own set of portals which take you to levels. Some portals are inactive until you pay Moneybags a certain amount of gems or until you have collected enough orbs. Each home world has a boss area and to gain access to the bosses in Summer Forest and Autumn Plains, you need to acquire all the Talismans from their respective levels. There are no Talismans in the Winter Tundra levels, only orbs. No Talisman is difficult to obtain. They’re basically your rewards for getting to the end of levels. The orbs in the levels are rewarded to you for completing specific challenges or minigames and the orbs lying around the home worlds are always found in hidden areas. To complete a home world or level to one hundred percent, you must acquire all gems, orbs, and talismans if the levels have them.
Upon entering a level, Spyro is greeted by an NPC who asks for his help. You may have to complete a specific objective but whatever the case, it’s all about getting to the end of the level. Once you get to the end and are rewarded with either a Talisman or orb, the return home portal appears which will take you back to the home world. Spyro 2 introduces challenges and minigames to the series but platforming and exploration are still here. To obtain the orbs in the levels, you’ll have to complete challenges like solving puzzles, bringing a snow leopard back to an NPC, rescuing NPC’s, chasing down NPC’s, and you’ll also have to win at some minigames like hockey and one where you have to collect more crystals than Hunter. Each level has it’s own set of challenges and minigames but none of them are very difficult and some are more fun than others. For example, running around and flaming or ramming the cowleks back to the pen isn’t exactly the definition of exciting. But the one where you fly around shooting down UFO’s piloted by sheep is pretty cool.
Flight levels return, officially known as Speedways in Spyro 2, and I still hate them. In these levels, you can freely fly around and must complete the objectives before the timer reaches zero. These are just trial and error and I never found them enjoyable. In Spyro 2, each Speedway has an orb to obtain. After completing the Speedway normally, you can either go for a better time or try to find the NPC to activate the challenge you need to complete to obtain the orb. You’ll have to fly and paraglide through rings, collect loot, and shoot down balloons from a remote controlled plane. The NPC’s are hidden somewhere in the Speedway and if you’ve never played the original and/or don’t know where they are, finding them may actually be more of a challenge than the challenges they offer.
Spyro 2 is made up of diverse levels and enemies. You’ll rescue Satyrs trapped in stone in one level and assist Robo Farmers in another. Enemies do not populate the home worlds but they do populate the levels. Armored enemies or any enemies with shields cannot be killed by Spyro’s flame breath so he must charge them or use other methods to bring them down. You’ll engage yaks, ice wizards, birds, earthshapers, lava lizards, cows with laser guns and other wacky foes. A lot of them rush you and utilize melee attacks but there are a few that utilize ranged attacks or projectiles like the birds that hurl rockets. None of them are very difficult to defeat but you will want to defeat as many as you can since every defeated enemy releases a spirit particle. After enough spirit particles are released, they will activate that level’s powerup gate which grants Spyro a special ability for a brief time. These include the Superflame which allows Spyro to spit out powerful fireballs, Invincibility makes Spyro invulnerable to damage from enemies and hazards, the Spring Jump which launches Spyro upward, Superfreeze which allows Spyro to freeze enemies, Superfly which allows Spyro to freely fly around, and Supercharge which allows Spyro to charge at high speeds and break through certain objects. You will need to utilize these powerups to reach certain areas or to complete specific challenges.
The levels do range in size and are mostly linear. They are open in the sense that you can basically go anywhere you want but it would be almost impossible to get lost and you can turn on a minimap from the options menu so figuring out where to go should never really be a problem. You’ll have to set off rockets which will blow open certain containers, you’ll have to watch out for hazards like lava and electricity, and you’ll slide on icy surfaces. Most levels include some branching paths to different areas which is usually where you need to go to obtain orbs. You can utilize whirlwinds to reach higher elevations and some levels let you utilize cannons to break certain objects and kill enemies. The boss areas in each home world are basically arenas where you fight the bosses. There are three bosses in the game and they appear more threatening than they actually are. They have multiple phases of attack patterns which are easy to memorize.
The game does include Skill Points which are basically optional objectives. You do not need to acquire skill points to beat the game or complete it. However, completing these objectives will unlock parts of the art gallery. Most of them are pretty easy like destroying certain objects in the levels or landing on something specific for example. Then there are more challenging ones like defeating bosses without taking damage or completing a speedway within the time limit.
Spyro 2 Reignited is part of the Reignited Trilogy and all of the games do share the same audiovisual presentation style. Much of what we covered in our review of the first game in regards to the presentation and technical aspects can be applied here. All of the characters are well animated, everything is vibrant and colorful, and the visual presentation as a whole is gorgeous. The little things like fire and explosion effects and foliage being singed look fantastic. The Reignited version does include redesigned character models and I do think the new designs look great. It is a shame you can’t disable the strong motion blur effect but if it doesn’t make you sick, you should be able to get past it. The original soundtrack was composed by Stewart Copeland and was remastered for Reignited. The music is catchy and fits the theme of the game perfectly. I would even say the soundtrack is largely responsible for game’s magical fantasy-like tone and atmosphere. The sound effects are good with most of the effects ranging from typical to whimsical. Ultimately, the audiovisual presentation in Reignited is a feast for both the eyes and ears. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t run perfectly smooth. It runs smooth most of the time but the frame rate will dip and stutter in certain areas and I noticed some pop-in quite a few times. I also saw an enemy get stuck in the environment.
I was obsessed with Spyro 2 as a kid and played it religiously for a while so playing through it again with an HD coat of paint was quite refreshing. I felt right at home from the moment I started playing and remembered how to accomplish almost every objective. I had a great time and it reminded me of that one summer years ago when I was just glued to my PlayStation and the game. I’ll be honest, though, Spyro 2 is certainly not the most challenging game and I found many of the challenges and minigames to not be very exciting. Not that they’re badly designed, maybe they just haven’t aged well. Some of them are fun but they are all trial and error so it’s either win or do it again. Plus, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to loathe minigames in platformers. I prefer to just explore environments and discover items. But in the end, I do think Spyro 2 is superior to the first game. There are more memorable characters, more items to collect, and new abilities at your disposal. The levels are varied and diverse, the enemies are silly, and there’s plenty to see and do.
I would absolutely recommend Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! to fans of the first game and/or platformers in general. It retains the same charm and gameplay as its predecessor while changing things up enough to keep it feeling fresh. If you enjoy challenges and minigames, Spyro 2 has plenty of them but you will also be doing plenty of platforming, gliding, and exploring. I’ve now played two out of the three games in the Reignited Trilogy and I’m still impressed. I would say this is the superior version of the game but since the gameplay is basically unchanged, you have to ask yourself if the visual overhaul is really enough to get you back into it. And I do not think the charm of the original PlayStation game is lost due to the visual overhaul. The levels, characters, enemy placements, mechanics, and everything else from the original are all here. There are some quality of life improvements and everything just looks prettier. My only real complaints with this Reignited version are some performance issues and the fact the developers didn’t make an effort to fix the outdated camera. Other than those things, Spyro 2 Reignited is fantastic.