Written by Brock Poulsen, brockst4r Wednesday, 14 December 2011 16:40
Spyro the Dragon's 3 PSOne classics are currently available free to PlayStation Plus members. I played through the first game for nostalgia's sake and found, despite their age, there is some worthwhile gameplay to be had here.
The skeptic in me suspects that these free games are being offered to encourage interest in the recent release of Skylanders, which features Spyro as a playable character. I've actually heard a lot of good about that game, despite its toy-purchasing angle. But I also suspect that any kid who is savvy enough to discover free games from PlayStation Plus is already well aware of Skylanders.
My most significant memories of Spyro always include my cousin Taylor. Taylor has autism, often making interactions with him difficult. But we bonded over our love of games on the original PlayStation. While I was enjoying Kartia, Metal Gear Solid, and Final Fantasy VII, Taylor was playing less violent, less complicated fare. Other gamers had Mario for their first 3D platformer; Taylor and I were being dazzled by the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro.
There are some similarities between Mario 64 and the first Spyro game. Spyro uses a familiar "hub world" with activities and enemies, with other levels being accessed through portals. There are plenty of collectibles and goals to reach for in each level, and completing 100% could be a serious time investment. There is a decent variety between levels, with some being more focused on speed, combat, or platforming. The flight levels are fun, if frustrating.
Spyro is a unique character to control, partly because of his fire-breathing and charging abilities, and partly because he is a horizontal rather than a vertical character. The charge move makes him move much faster, meaning speed -- while not strictly necessary -- can be a fun part of each level.
Despite that the franchise was basically run into the ground, something about me likes the Spyro character. I like the idea of the plucky young dragon rescuing the older, stronger dragons, and it's a game I don't worry about letting my 19-month-old son watch me play. The worlds are simple and kid-friendly.
Spyro is a lot of fun, bringing back fond memories of my gaming beginnings. It's worth a look if you're at all curious and looking for some innocent gaming fun.