Dragons are amongst the most feared and fascinating of mythical creatures. They represent power, strength and wisdom. They are the most recognized and most featured of legendary creatures. While the dragon can be fearsome, some dragons can be just down right cuddly. And purple. With a yellow dragon for a friend. Devildriver1313 here and this is a Time Warp Review of gaming’s most popular dragon, Spyro.
Spyro first flew into our hearts in Spyro the Dragon released by Insomniac Games in 1998 for the Sony Playstation. Gnasty Gnorc has crystalized the dragons of the Dragon Realms and it is up to Spyro to save them and recover the treasure that has been stolen with the help of his friend Sparx the Dragonfly. Spyro has two main attacks; breathing fire and charging with his horns, which must be strategically used for defeating enemies and smashing open crates. Charging can be used against many small enemies but not against larger enemies. Likewise, fire is capable of defeating larger enemies, but can be blocked by enemies that use metal armor. Spyro is also able to glide whilst jumping to reach new areas, with some levels allowing him to fly freely in the air. Spyro’s health is represented by the color of his dragonfly partner, Sparx, who also helps him pick up nearby treasure. Taking damage will cause Sparx to lose his color and disappear, leaving Spyro vulnerable, but he can recover health by eating butterflies spawned from defeating small animals. In his early development, Spyro was originally supposed to be green, which is a common color used for dragons; however, Insomniac Games developers saw this as a bad idea since Spyro would simply blend in with the grass and so his color was changed to purple. Spyro’s first outing was praised by critics for its impressive graphics and challenging gameplay. Like with most games back then, platforming was still the forerunning element and there is plenty of it in Spyro. The game also featured flying stages in each of the five Dragon Realms. In these stages, players guided Spyro through a series of obstacles such as rings, arches, destroy chests and flame lanterns or Gnorc operated planes or boats. Jewels are awarded upon completion.
Former drummer of The Police, Stewart Copeland, composed and produced the game’s music which is primarily progressive rock-themed. Many of the pieces from the game, or rather music motifs from them, have made their way into other Copeland pieces. The music for the level Jacques appears on Copeland’s compilation album The Stewart Copeland Anthology where it is referred to as Rain.
Spyro the Dragon was re-released in Playstation Store along with the sequels Ripto’s Rage and Year of the Dragon. In an interview, Ted Price stated that they gave up the series after releasing Spyro: Year of the Dragon because his actions were limited, due to not being able to hold anything in his hands. Still, that hasn’t slowed the spunky dragon down. He would resurface in The Legend of Spyro series for the Playstation 2 which served as a reboot, giving Spyro the backstory of him being part of a rare line of purple dragon who can harness the power of various elements. He is expected to appear in an animated series based on the Skylanders game series in 2016.
Since his incarnation, Spyro has received criticism from both ends. His voice was criticized by Game Revolution, comparing it to the Taco Bell Chihuahua. Ironically, both Spyro and the Chihuahua were voiced by Carlos Alazraqui. IGN praised Spyro’s design for being “cute but not sickeningly cute.” UGO.com listed Spyro on their list of The Cutest Video Game Characters stating “The purple little guy was cute, but not cute enough to win the Great Playstation Mascot War of 1998.” The 2011 Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition lists Spyro as the 39th most popular video game character. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked Spyro, “one of the most relatable mythological creatures of all time”, as the 92nd “most memorable, influential, and badass” protagonist in games. In the same year, he was ranked 9th in Complex’s “The 25 Most Kickass Dragons in Video Games” list, with the writer Obi Anyawu stating Spyro “is truly an original just from his size and color alone.” Not bad for a little dragon on a big adventure.