There’s not a whole lot to say about Spyro Reignited Trilogy that wasn’t said about the original 90s Spyro games.
With the “classic games remastered” train now safely cruising down the tracks, we need to ask the question - how do you review a remaster? Of course remasters are nothing new but between Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro Reignited Trilogy and the upcoming Medievil remaster, it’s clear that digging up classic 90s games helmed by B-tier icons and sprucing them up is becoming a big trend. But should we judge these remasters as individual games, or expansions or developments on old classics? And how far do we let nostalgia push us in our assessment?
This question is pertinent because, for all intents and purposes, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is the original Spyro (and Ripto’s Rage and Year of the Dragon). The classic levels, enemies and music have been re-created with care and precision; any change is so miniscule as to be unworthy of note. Does this mean it’s a good game, because Spyro was? Or is it a bad game, for adding nothing new to the old game save upgraded graphics?
To check the arbitrary “context” box any review needs: Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a remastering of the classic 90s platformer Spyro, and its two original sequels. It’s a complete recreation in Unreal Engine 4, though is virtually indistinguishable from the original game in everything but looks.
That’s not to say the game is “bad” for being such a faithful remaster - far from it. Not only has the physical game been remastered but the tone and spirit remains intact, with Spyro’s eager quips and the humour of the dragons you encounter along the way being just as charming as they were 20 years ago. The joyful remastered music, bright colour palette and reactive control scheme all help evoke the simple feeling of playing Spyro - and it’s all just as fun as it was before.
Yet by directly copying over the game, some of the weaker elements of the game are transferred over. Love them or hate them, the majority of the dragons you rescue in the first game are rather useless. Some provide hints about the level you’re in (although by the time you rescue the dragons, those hints are worthless) but most provide no narrative, world-building or characterisation reward. This is representative of several ways in which Toys for Bob could have build on the original games in small but meaningful ways. Simply by providing the dragons with better dialogue, the world of Spyro could have been opened up.
Some would say it's wrong to criticise Spyro Reignited Trilogy for being too much like the original trilogy. However there are some tweaks to the game - the dragons have been changed slightly to differentiate them by world, for example, however the changes could have gone further to improving the original game.
While Unreal Engine 4 brings much better-looking graphical fidelity, it seems it also has its problems. At points enemies spawned in to the level late, which was quite the shock, and it can be very hard to see gems on the floor in certain floor textures. In addition the loading screens are unnecessarily long. The beautiful look of the world makes up for those issues, however, and a noteworthy effect of the graphical engine is to make some of the monsters look absolutely and gloriously terrifying.
It’s worth applauding developers Toys for Bob for including all three original Spyro games, not just the first. The games aren’t as long as you remember them being (how many games are, when revisited?) yet the original three games all provide a significant amount of value.
One way to judge Spyro Reignited Trilogy is to put aside its context - forget the original Spyro, forget nostalgia, forget the huge sum of money this game will likely make Activision. On those terms, the game is a fun little adventure, and it’ll scratch the nostalgia itch of anyone who played the original. But it’s no more necessary to play than that original - and reviews already exist for that.