[Best of 2018] How the Spyro Reignited Trilogy Breathed Life Into My Cold, Critical Heart

Video games are boring me. Personally, I feel as though the industry is at a creative low, recycling the same concepts just to sell product. There are very few truly novel ideas out there as creators draw from the same pool of modern game design and subcultural references. As a kid, I saw gaming as something magical. Today, I see it as a mechanical, business-driven enterprise. But some games, like the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, give me hope and help warm my icy, jaded heart.

Spyro the Dragon was the first game I ever played. It was the title that made me fall in love with the medium. I couldn’t wait to come home from school and play for the two or three hours my parents allowed me. To be frank, I had little idea of how the industry operated and was much more concerned with collecting every gem the title had to offer. As someone who never felt like I belonged in school, video games made me feel like a kid. It was an outlet I poured myself into when I had few friends in real life.

Despite knowing a lot more people today, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy appeals to me in the same way. The simplicity of its level design and inviting presentation makes it just as accessible as when I was a child. Spyro and the bottomless levels he roams around in have welcomed me back with familiar gameplay mechanics I’m not tired of, and I can’t put my controller down even now that I don’t live with my parents.

Best of 2018 – Just Having Fun

spyro subtitles, Spyro Reignited Trilogy

The original three Spyro games released in a market that was already used to platformers like Banjo-Kazooie and Crash Bandicoot. Developer Insomniac Games had a lot to prove given the lackluster sales success of its latest release, Disruptor. Against the odds, the purple dragon managed to carve a niche for itself within the genre. The first game in the trilogy and its sequels didn’t rely on difficulty to be fun. There is no motivation to blaze through stages or collect a certain amount of items before time runs out. Each game just wants players to have fun.

It’s for this reason that I cling to the trilogy in its remastered form today. I don’t play video games to become internet famous, stream for an audience, or constantly look for the next platinum trophy to add to my virtual collection. I play games to have fun and let my imagination run wild. Unfortunately, I don’t get this a lot with today’s software offerings.

Modern platformers like CelesteShovel Knight, and Super Meat Boy all test the player in ways that I don’t want to be tested. Gaming has always been about the experience for me and Spyro allows me to sit back and enjoy at my own pace. I often find myself playing levels like Metalhead and Lofty Castle over and over again, just because they fill me with that same sense of wonder I had when I was a kid. I don’t need to hurry up and collect gems before time runs out or flawlessly jump through a tough platforming gauntlet. It’s as if each game celebrates creativity alongside me.

Best of 2018 – Celebrating Its Roots

spyro reignited trilogy

The Spyro Reignited Trilogy‘s simplicity is exactly what makes it so appropriate for today’s market. Whether or not this is the intention, many of today’s platformers emphasize hardcore mechanics to keep players high on the adrenaline rush. The unapologetic preservation of Spyro‘s easygoing nature made me realize how much I missed playing games for comfort. If great sales serve as an indication, there are fans like me out there that are willing to play platformers of a similar vein. Hopefully, it’s enough to convince developers to keep this relaxed audience in mind for the future.

Admittedly, the trilogy does fit into the nostalgic sales ploys of modern publishers. Despite this, it hasn’t been altered in a way to appeal to today’s typical video game consumer. In a way, these remasters purely preserve Insomniac’s style and mindset it had when it developed the original Spyro games. There are no battle royale arenas to be found here. Rather, the games adopt only the modern elements that make sense.

A graphical overhaul ushers the series into the 21st century without removing the cartoony aesthetic that brought the original games to life. Likewise, improved control options grant players the flexibility they’ve grown used to with today’s standards. There are probably very few people who would like to go back to controlling the camera with the shoulder buttons.

Given my history with the series, each Spyro game does evoke some nostalgia in me that’s hard to separate from my professional insight. Keeping this in mind, the series undoubtedly feels great to play today, allowing the mascot to charge just as fluidly as he did during his PlayStation days. Or at  least, how we think it controlled back then, which our review also points out.

Best of 2018 – Being Me Again

game anniversaries, Spyro Reignited Trilogy

The purple dragon’s remastered games aren’t without their flaws. The frame rates occasionally drop and the wonky camera angles we experienced in the ’90s still come back to haunt us. It’s also worth noting how most of the package needs to be downloaded in order to be played (rendering disc copies nearly useless) and how each title lacks subtitles due to there being “no industry standard,” according to publisher Activision.

Despite these minor inconveniences, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a celebration of five-year-old me. Spyro allowed me to be a kid when I lacked the social skills to make friends in real life. Today, the fire-breathing mascot is spurring me to approach video games with a creative mindset again. As an adult, I’ve learned how easy it is to succumb to the reality of everyday business. While it’s always important to be aware of this aspect of our lives, it’s just as important to reserve enough time to be a kid again.