The first Spyro game just seemed like another kiddie game full of cute characters and a storybook plot. Nothing special. That is until I played it. I found it to be fun, relaxing, and very well designed. The ensuing hours I spent playing were some of the simply enjoyable hours I had ever invested in a game. No frustration due to poor game design or impossible ludicrous tasks, just smooth gliding and flame throwing fun. Well when I found out that there was going to be a sequel I was a bit skeptical. I mean it could have easily fallen into the trap of just repeating the original game with slightly different levels a la Gex. I am happpy to report that the game is a true sequel with so many new features and tasks that you will forget thast there was ever an original.
The game starts right where the first one left off. Spyro on his little moth friend have just defeated Gnasty Gnorc and they are looking forward to a well deserved vacation. However while they are flying through the dimensional portal they are intercepted by a cute professor and his friends who desperately need his help. It seems that the professor accidentally intercepted a evil villain by the name of Ripto who plans on conquering this new land. That is where Spyro comes in. It seems that the only thing that Ripto is scared of is dragons and Spyro just happens to be that.
Ripto's Rage refers to the ludicrous magical spells that Ripto has cast all over the four worlds (each represents a season). His spells have caused idols to come to life and attack their creators, dinosaurs are eating cavemen, Eskimos are being frozen and all kinds of other shenanigans are taking place. As Spyro you travel around through portals into different worlds and solve all of the people's problems. Each level has a overall task which yields a talisman and a bunch of little mini-games that will give you orbs. You then can use these rewards to move along in the game.
Up to this point it may sound like any other kind of platform game of this nature, get to the end of the level and move on. However that is where the similarity and the mediocrity ends. First of all there are a bunch of different moves you can do with the character of Spyro. All of the moves he had in the first game are here and added ones include swimming, climbing, and the spitfire. The last of these involves sucking up rocks and spitting them at enemies, a skill that has many uses throughout the game.
Another innovative aspect of the game that really separates it from other games of this type is the fun mini-tasks that are scattered about in each level. They involve everything from Spyro ice hockey to guiding turtles away from a hot cauldron of turtle soup to racing a leopard. Each of the mini-games uses the moves that Spyro has learned and uses them to the fullest. Many of them make use of certain power-ups that Spyro can unlock by defeating enemies. These involve flying, super fire, and a quick dash.
Really what makes the game shine is not all of the features in it but rather the mood that prevails over the entire game. So rarely does a kiddie game have the personality and character design that Spyro has. All of the characters in the game have different voices and personalities and they all speak. That is more than you will get on the N64, a supposed kid system, where voices are a rarity. Also, there are just as many good characters as evil ones and all of them are different. It is not like the enemies in one level are the same as the ones in all of the other ones. Plus, having a large number of good characters makes the game more believable. It makes you feel that once you have defeated all of the enemies in a world, it is returned to its natural state instead of just a defeated level.
One of the problems with these kinds of 3D adventure games is the problem with the camera. The makers of Spyro have acknowledged this problem and even realized that the first Spyro had camera problems. They assured me in the manual and it press that they had fixed camera problems. At first I was not too sure about that since I was having trouble with the lazy camera. However, once I put it in "active camera" mode I had very little if any trouble with it at all. The camera pretty much stays behind Spyro the whole time and can be manipulated in many different ways to get a full view of the surrounding area.
I have a reputation around Gametour for liking kiddie games. For this reason I may be a little biased towards this game, but it also makes me an expert on the genre. I have to say that out of all the games that I have played in this genre, this one ranks way up there in the Mario 64 kind of status. Say what you want about cutesy graphics and non-violence. A good solid game that is fun to play takes precedence over a bloody crappy game any day.
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