Over 20 years ago, the gaming world was introduced to Spyro and his dragonfly [Ha! I see what they did there] partner Sparx. Spyro and Sparx debuted on September 10, 1998 in Spyro the Dragon which was released on the PlayStation. Two sequels followed, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! in 1999 and Spyro: Year of the Dragon in 2000. If you missed out on any of the three Spyro games, don't worry. All three games were remastered and re-released on November 13, 2018 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as Spyro Reignited Trilogy (where you get all three games in one; a packaged deal or sorts). Spyro Reignited Trilogy was released for the Nintendo Switch and PC on September 3, 2019. That's right, it is available now for all 4 major platforms. Spyro Reignited Trilogy contains a full version of Spyro the Dragon, but Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon require additional downloads as part of an in-game update in order to be full versions. However, that is still all three games in one.
Spyro the Dragon
First developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, Spyro the Dragon was released on September 10, 1998 for the PlayStation. In this first installment of the franchise, Spyro and Sparx must travel across the Dragon Kingdom and defeat Gnasty Gnorc (a half gnome, half orc creature). Gnasty Gnorc has overtaken and conquered the 5 dragon Homeworlds: the Artisans, the Peace Keepers, the Magic Crafters, the Beast Makers, and the Dream Weavers. Using his magical powers, Gnasty Gnorc casts a spell and traps the dragons in crystal and turned their treasures into a minion hoard. Luckily for the trapped dragons, Spyro was the only one not to be caught in the spell. Now he and his companion Sparx must go from homeworld to homeworld, free the crystallized dragons, and then find and defeat Gnasty Gnorc.
Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!
The first of two sequels, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage was originally released on November 2, 1999 for the PlayStation. In this second installment in the franchise, Spyro and Sparx decide to take a trip to the Dragon Shores, but as they step through the portal, they end up in Avalar instead. They were actually summoned by Elora the Faun, Hunter the Cheetah, and the Professor. The three explain to Spyro that while they were conducting experiments with a large portal device, they accidentally summoned a [dragon hating] warlock known as Ripto, along with his minions Gulp and Crush. After Ripto conquered Avalar, Elora, Hunter, and the Professor are forced to summon Spyro to help them take their homeworld back.
The world of Avalar consists of 3 realms: the Summer Forest, the Autumn Plains, and the Winter Tundra and each realm consists of different worlds. Spryo and Sparx must traverse through and reclaim each realm from Ripto. As they do, they power up, learn new abilities, and gather talismans which allow them to then confront Ripto.
For the second installment, only Spyro and Sparx are returning characters. However, Spyro 2 introduces the audience to a few new characters that will make multiple cameos as the franchise moves forward. Hunter [the Cheetah], another character named Moneybags, and the title villain in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, Ripto, all make recurring appearances throughout the series.
Spyro: Year of the Dragon
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the year 2000 was the year of the dragon so it was only fitting that the third installment in the Spyro franchise be called Spyro: Year of the Dragon. It was originally released for the PlayStation on October 24, 2000.
As the residents are holding Year of the Dragon celebrations, the queen of the Forgotten Worlds, simply known as the Sorceress sends in her henchman, Bianca the Rabbit and a hoard of Rhynocs to steal all the new Dragon eggs. The Sorceress then spreads the eggs throughout multiple worlds. It is up to Spyro, Sparx, and friends of old and new to retrieve the eggs and defeat the Sorceress. There are 4 realms that Spryo must explore to save the eggs: Sunrise Spring, Midday Garden, Evening Lake, and Midnight Mountain.
Spyro: Year of the Dragon is the first installment to introduce playable characters other than Spyro. As the player progresses through the game, they unlock new characters that can be used in certain areas of certain levels. For example, Hunter the Cheetah is a playable character for certain racing levels. Spyro 2 Ripto's Rage! introduced minigames, but Year of the Dragon takes the minigames to a whole new level.
Although Activision hasn't done a whole lot to change the three games when they released Spyro Reignited Trilogy [in 2018], the quality of the graphics are most noticeable. 20 years of technology and advancements don't go unnoticed. Much like most games that are remastered and re-released, more attention is paid to the details. You can now see each blade of grass, each roof tile, and each distinct stone of the castles. Long gone are the days of the pixelated, boxed look of sharp corners and no curves; Spyro's figure is more pronounced (as if he's a model of some sort). With the image below, you can see the evolution of Spyro through the years (from 1998 on the far left to 2018 on the far right). Just with these profile pictures, you can really see how much the details have changed.
A quick search will show that critics and users alike love the new remastered Spyro franchise. Critics at Metacritic.com scored Spyro Reignited Trilogy an 82% which translate to "Generally Favorable Reviews." Users on Metacritic.com scored it an 8.1 (I'm assuming out of 10). Critics on IGN.com scored it an 8.5, which according to their scale equates to "Great" (in line with Rocket League, Mortal Kombat X, and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition). Gamespot.com scored Spyro Reignited Trilogy an 8 ("Great"). According to their review, the good things about the new trilogy are: "gorgeous graphical enhancements, much more animation and personality to every character, simple and accessible without sacrificing fun, and wide variety of activities to do." Their one bad thing listed is "item collection in the original game feels pointless."
Overall, it seems that remastering and re-releasing the Spyro franchise without completely remaking or rebooting it was a huge hit. Critics and players love the new graphics and gameplay!