It's amazing how similar the paths of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon have been. Both started things off with a trio of beloved platformers on PSone before they were handed to different developers, who made likeable but inferior adventures that ultimately led to the characters falling into obscurity. Both owned by Activision, the two platforming heroes have reemerged on PS4 in their respective remakes, rekindling lost affection and introducing them to a whole new audience. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is here and, much like Crash's revival, is a real success.
Toys for Bob has done a sterling job of bringing back the 20-year-old Spyro titles, and they remain a joy to play. There's a simplicity to each of the three adventures that's refreshing after sinking hours into a gargantuan blockbuster; all you need to do is defeat some enemies, pick up some gems, and hunt for collectibles. The Spyro games have always had a reputation for being relatively easy, and that's still true, but the low difficulty makes for a trio of titles that are relaxing to play. You have room to breathe here.
You're free to wander each of the fairly small levels as you like, and play them in any order you choose. Fans of the games will relish all their favourite locations from the originals, as the developer has not only matched the layouts exactly, it's embellished each stage with new details which will surely keep you grinning as you explore. The dragons you must find and rescue in Spyro 1, for example, are now totally unique, rather than the limited range of models and colours in the 1998 title, giving even veterans a new perspective on Spyro's first adventure.
While the presentation has been completely overhauled – and it looks and sounds consistently gorgeous – the controls are uncannily faithful to the PSone games. Manoeuvring Spyro feels like it did 20 years ago, although Toys for Bob has smoothed things out a little. The camera now resides on the right stick, but it can still be somewhat clumsy. Even with the Active camera setting turned on, you'll find it gets snagged in tight spots from time to time, and it struggles to keep up with Spyro as he starts his charge attack, resulting in plenty of near-misses. Generally speaking, though, controlling the little dragon feels responsive and snappy.
It's also nice to see that the first game now more closely matches the other two in some ways. Sparx can now point out the nearest gem in all three titles, Tom Kenny voices Spyro across the board, and you can even earn Skill Points in the original game for the first time. The developer has gone even further, adding in an entirely new feature with an optional mini-map for every level. The art style is also the same across the trilogy, making it look and feel like a nice, cohesive package.
It's a visual treat that's bursting with colour and personality – it's just a slight shame that performance doesn't quite match up. It's mostly fine, but we did encounter some stuttering here and there, and loading times can be surprisingly long. It's nothing that really gets in the way, but it would've been ideal for a game like this to be buttery smooth.
Elsewhere, however, there's a clear love for the character and the series that shines through any technical issues. Character designs and animations are very well done, and the attention to detail across the trilogy never wavers. Even small things like the light bar matching Sparx's colour, or the art galleries you unlock for completing Skill Points, suggest this was a real passion project for the developer. These are three lovingly recreated games that hold up impressively in 2018. Again, just as with Crash, Spyro's now back with a great PS4 release for fans to relive and for newcomers to discover.
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is another cracking remake from Activision. The purple dragon's original trio of adventures holds up brilliantly, with beautiful, colourful visuals and meticulously rebuilt levels. The controls are faithful to a fault; Spyro turns on a dime, but camera issues can frustrate occasionally, and loading times are perhaps a little too long. Overall, however, this is a remake Spyro fans can be proud of, and a threesome of old-school 3D platformers that a new generation of players will come to love.