To some extent, I had one of the greatest video-game filled childhoods in my entire family. I was near enough born with a SNES controller in my hands. Whilst I’m a huge fan of 16-colour and 32-colour games, the games just weren’t as enthralling as the games played on my first personal games console, the original PlayStation (PSX).
On the console I began playing some of the greatest games of all time such as: Crash Bandicoot, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, Tekken and much more, but one game stood out at being the mascot of the childhood that I had lived, and this character was Spyro the Dragon.
Even nowadays, I’d say the Spyro games shared in-game mechanics that stood out along with Crash bandicoot allowing these games to never lose their appeal over time. Think about it; Crash Bandicoot and Spyro both offer fun, appealing games with simplistic storylines that are unique and can be readapted into an infinite amount of game entries – something very little games offer nowadays.
However as great as Crash was, I always preferred playing as a Dragon because as a 7-year-old child at the time, it just seemed way cooler to control a kid-friendly mythical beast that spits fire. I preferred the Spyro’s platforming elements because the game featured four worlds with levels included. The game had this feeling of letting the player feel like they were in control as to what levels should be completed first, but also offered great secrets, humour and some of the most diverse environments in a 3D platformer to date.
This original platforming experience was revamped with each release on the PS1 and by the time the PlayStation 2 rolled out, Insomniac games had sold the rights of the game to Universal. Knowing that Spyro was a crowd pleaser, its development teams began developing Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly which was awfully similar to what we’d seen on the PlayStation 2’s predecessor. The graphical enhancements were done well, but at the sacrifice of really plain environments. You see the problem with Enter the Dragonfly was the fact that environments were simple on the PS1 because they simply had to be, however, given the power of the PS2 (at the time), much more was expected of the Spyro games.
A few years on and Spyro saw a new series in its franchise called the Legend of Spyro series which debuted on the previous generation of consoles to our current generation. These games had all the elements of a solid platformer, from beautiful graphics to a story that stretched way beyond just one game, but it was simply released at a time where new innovative platformers such as Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter and Sly Cooper were really overshadowing it to the point that the Spyro franchise was made irrelevant and somewhat redundant.
Spyro games continued being released by more and more developers which eventually squeezed the life and fun out of the franchise. Spyro is near-enough non-existent and whilst Skylanders features Spyro, it is a complete spin in another direction for Spyro’s adventures. I wished the original platforming elements returned because that’s where Spyro truly shined. I truly believe that the game industry needs more platformers and I think our generation of children need kid-friendly characters in their lives to truly embrace a good childhood with video games.
Since the death of Spyro, Ratchet & Clank has now become my platformer of choice but even that franchise is beginning to lose its charm. The last shred of hope I have is if Sony announce a new Jak & daxter game and should Sony make my wishes come true, it’ll just prove that I was never meant to grow up.