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Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  1
Developer:  Insomniac Games
Publisher:  Universal Interactive Studios
Features:  Dual Shock
Ratings:  Everyone
Memory Req.:  1 Block
Usually when a game gets into its third chapter most all of the fun and originality is spent and the game comes off as more of a repeat than a new and interesting premiere. Such is NOT the case with this installment of Spyro. The game keeps the original feel of the first two Spyros but adds enough options and new types of gameplay that it really feels like an entirely new game instead of just some more levels added to the last one.

If you have overlooked Spyro due to its cutesy graphics and kiddy gameplay then you are missing out on one of the greatest platform to ever come out for the Playstation. It has the greatest control and camera work of any game. Everything plays smooth as silk with just the most minimal of camera blips. If you have ever played a 3D platformer and have gotten caught in a corner than you know why this is so important. Not only is the game made extremely well but it is quite challenging if you want to complete everything.

That said let me get into some of the details about this version. On a bright and sunny day during the dragonís naptime holes stared popping up all over the land. Out of the holes popped these creatures called Rhinocs and they started stealing all of the dragonís eggs. We find out that they were working for an evil sorceress who needs the dragonís for their magic. Since Spyro is the only person who can sneak through the holes he is chosen to go rescue the eggs. Along the way he must also get a bunch of gems which he uses to buy his way though closed doors and hidden areas. A greedy guy named Moneybags guards them and he can only be persuaded by cold hard cash.

If you have played the other Spyro games then you know the basic gameplay that is repeated in Year of the Dragon. You run, jump, glide, pound, breathe fire, and charge your way through the different areas finding eggs and solving puzzles. Along the way you meet a whole host of different characters who will tell you how the sorceress and her minions of Rhinocs are destroying their lands and one by one you have to solve all of their problems. In return they will reward you with eggs and open up mini-games.

The mini-games are really what separate this version from the previous ones. Instead of repeating the concepts in the last game, all new ones are added to make the game a whole new experience. The most involved of these are the skateboarding levels. Originally there was going to be snowboarding mini-games but that was so 1998. After the success of Tony Hawk everything is all about skateboarding. This could have been a real dud, but the creators did a great job of combining the smooth motion with added tricks big-air jumps. This could be an entire game in itself. There are also races and levels to test your flying skills. Plus in each of the worlds there are power-ups, which give you additional skills necessary to complete certain tasks.

It is the little features about the Spyro game that give it such a great overall quality. Sure the game has a great childlike quality and a colorful fun sense of adventure, but that is present in nearly every kid game. What really separates Spyro is the attention to details. All of the characters are well thought out and the voice acting is actually a joy to listen to. I have already mentioned how the gameís camera and control are for superior to other games in its genre. Plus the challenges are interesting, diverse, and fun to play over and over again. If you overlook this game because you think it is meant for kids then you will be missing out on one of the best platform games on par with classics like Mario and Donkey Kong.

Chris Shade

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