Spyro the Dragon
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|Spyro the Dragon|
Original North American packaging artwork, featuring the titular protagonist Spyro.
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Spyro the Dragon is a platform game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The game was released for the PlayStation on September 10, 1998. The first game in the Spyro series, it stars the title character, a young purple dragon named Spyro, and his dragonfly friend, Sparx, who venture through the dragon kingdom to rescue the other dragons from a spell placed by Gnasty Gnorc.
Spyro the Dragon received positive reviews from critics, who praised the game for its graphics and high replay value. The game was also a commercial success, selling nearly 5 million copies worldwide. Two sequels, titled Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, were later released for the PlayStation in 1999 and 2000, respectively. A remastered version of the game will be released as part of a compilation for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November 2018, titled Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
Spyro the Dragon puts players in the control of the titular Spyro, as he travels across various worlds in order to rescue his fellow dragons, recover the stolen treasure, and defeat the evil Gnasty Gnorc. Spyro has two main attacks; breathing fire and charging with his horns, which must be strategically used for defeating enemies and smashing open crates. Charging can be used against many small enemies but not against larger enemies. Likewise, fire is capable of defeating larger enemies, but can be blocked by enemies that use metal armor. Spyro is also able to glide whilst jumping to reach new areas, with some levels allowing him to fly freely in the air. Spyro's health is represented by the color of his dragonfly partner, Sparx, who also helps him pick up nearby treasure. Taking damage will cause Sparx to lose his color and disappear, leaving Spyro vulnerable, but he can recover health by eating butterflies spawned from defeating small animals. Various treasure can be found in various areas, including inside treasure chests, some of which require certain techniques to break open, or earned by defeating enemies. Enemies that have already had their gems retrieved upon revisiting areas will instead release orbs that can be collected towards earning extra lives.
The game consists of several different worlds, which are divided into various realms accessed by finding their gates. In order to progress to the next hub world, the player needs to fulfil the goal required by the balloonist in each world, such as a certain amount of treasure, rescued dragons, or dragon eggs. Most worlds contain dragons encased in stone, which can be rescued by touching them. Some of these dragons offer hints, and their platforms can be used to save the game. Eggs are in the possession of speedy blue thieves that must be chased down and defeated in order to recover them. In order to beat the game, the player must travel to the final homeworld, enter Gnasty Gnorc's lair, and defeat him. Upon Gnasty's defeat the player is presented with a closing cinematic and credits, then the player may now go to all worlds and realms in order to obtain each gem, egg, and release each dragon. Upon achieving 100% completion, the player can access a bonus level: Gnasty's Loot.
During the intro, a news team sets up an interview with a couple of dragons within the Artisan World, one of five realms in the Dragon Kingdom (the others of which include Peace Keepers' world, Magic Crafters, Beast Makers, and Dream Weavers) which have lived in harmony for years. When the reporter asks about Gnasty Gnorc, a gnorc (half gnome and half orc) who lives within his own, sixth realm, one of the dragons cockily describes him as an ugly, simple minded creature who poses no threat to the Dragon Kingdom. However, Gnasty is watching the live feed from his home world and, enraged by the insults, uses a magic spell to encase all dragons in crystal and sends out his hordes of gnorc soldiers. One dragon, Spyro, is able to avoid the attack due to his more short-bodied appearance in comparison to the much larger dragons. Aided by his dragonfly companion, Sparx, Spyro vows to rescue his dragon brethren and defeat Gnasty Gnorc once and for all. He visits each of the dragon realms in sequence, freeing trapped dragons, collecting treasure, and rescuing dragon eggs from pesky thieves within each realms' portal worlds before facing realm bosses. He then makes his way to Gnasty's World where he fights his way through two precursor portals before confronting the Gnorc leader himself. After he defeats Gnasty, an ending clip shows him back in Artisan World discussing his victory with the news reporters.
After the credits, Spyro appears back in Gnasty's World where he frees one last dragon who points him to Gnasty's treasure portal which will only open once the player has completed 100% of the game; collecting every bit of treasure and rescuing all dragons and dragon eggs. Once Spyro has reached 100% and collected everything within the treasure portal, an alternate ending plays where Spyro is, again, interviewed by the news reporters just as another magic spell comes in and crystallizes the dragons. Spyro's last statement is, "Here we go again."
Spyro the Dragon was the 2nd game developed by Insomniac Games, following the release of their first game, Disruptor, in December of 1996. Although Disruptor was critically praised, it was not successful financially; however, the game's praise was enough to impress Universal Interactive Studios and encourage the team to continue with their next endeavor. The idea of a game about a dragon was introduced by Insomniac artist Craig Stitt, who suggested the concept out of his own interest in the mythical creature. Initially, the game's tone was far darker and more realistic; according to Insomniac's COO, John Fiorito, who joined the company in 1997 during Spyro's development, inspiration was taken in part from the 1996 film DragonHeart, and the game was initially "realistic and kind of dark and gritty" before the game took a more whimsical direction. Mark Cerny, an executive with Universal Interactive Studios, advised that the team create a game with more mass market appeal, as the demographics of the PlayStation were decreasing and its selection of children's titles were greatly outnumbered by the Nintendo 64's.
During the development of the game, Spyro was originally going to be green, but the developers thought it was a bad idea because he would blend in with grass, so they eventually changed him to purple. Spyro the Dragon made use of a 3D panoramic engine which was being simultaneously developed by Alex Hastings; this rendering system allowed objects to be displayed from far distances by rendering them with varying levels of detail, making it one of the first games on the PlayStation to use such an engine. The developers believed that the engine would be fitting for the game, as it could allow for more expansive open-world gameplay taking advantage of the character's abilities, such as gliding. In an interview, Ted Price stated that they gave up the series after releasing Spyro: Year of the Dragon because his actions were limited, due to not being able to hold anything in his hands. Carlos Alazraqui provides the voice of Spyro in this game, alongside voices from Clancy Brown, Michael Gough, Jamie Alcroft and Michael Connor.
The game's music was composed and produced by Stewart Copeland. Copeland wrote the compositions by playing through early versions of the game's levels in order to get a feel for each one's overall atmosphere. According to Copeland in an interview, each song in the game was written in order to correspond to a specific level, but this correlation ultimately went unused. The music is primarily progressive rock-themed. Many of the pieces from the game, or music motifs from them, have made their way into other Copeland pieces, such as the theme to Nickelodeon's The Amanda Show coming from 'Wizard Peak', Look Up, and Louis Hansa. The music for the level Jacques appears on Copeland's compilation album The Stewart Copeland Anthology, referred to as "Rain".
Spyro the Dragon was released in North America on September 10, 1998, and later on in Europe in October of the same year. According to Sony Computer Entertainment's American Marketing Vice President, Andrew House, at a press party in Las Vegas, the game, along with other upcoming 4th quarter PlayStation releases such as Crash Bandicoot: Warped, A Bug's Life, and Rugrats: Search for Reptar, was part of a general effort to appeal to a wider demographic of younger audiences and provide more games suited for younger players in order to compete with the Nintendo 64 (which, at the time, had a far larger library of kid's titles compared to the PlayStation's largely adult-centric demographic). An advertisement campaign was pushed to promote the game, featuring a character from the game, Toasty the Sheep, protesting against the title character's misdeeds against sheep. The campaign included TV commercials, featuring an actor in an animatronic costume of Toasty, and a promotional website, sheepagainstspyro.com. On August 16, 1999, SCEA announced that the game would be included as a part of their "Greatest Hits" lineup of budgeted releases alongside other games such as Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Gran Turismo, Cool Boarders 3, and Twisted Metal III, and alongside the announcement of a price drop for the PlayStation console to compete with the highly anticipated launch of the Sega Dreamcast.
The game was later digitally re-released to the PlayStation Store in North America and Europe, together with Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon. A remaster of the game, alongside its two sequels, will be included as a part of the Spyro Reignited Trilogy compilation for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November 2018.
Spyro the Dragon received positive reviews from critics, holding a score of 85% at GameRankings, based on an aggregate of 18 reviews. Edge considered it the best 3D platform game for the PlayStation, but criticized Spyro's limited abilities and said that the game was not as varied as Super Mario 64. GameSpot described it as having very good graphics for its time, and being one of the first well-received full-3D platformers for the original PlayStation. IGN, with similar comments, said that "the game utilizes the PlayStation's hardware to the max, and there's not an obvious polygon glitch to speak of", and saying that the only problem was the camera not following the character correctly.
According to Spyro's developers, sales were initially slow at the game's launch but quickly began picking up following the holiday season.. In the week of November 29, 1998, it was the 3rd best-selling game in the UK, behind Tomb Raider and FIFA 99.
The popularity of Spyro the Dragon helped to push the character of Spyro as a popular platforming mascot for the PlayStation alongside Crash Bandicoot. It was the first game in what would go on to become an expansive video game series, spawning two more platforming sequels for the PlayStation – Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon – released in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Since the year 2000, the series has sold more than 3.2 million copies in the U.S. and over 4 million copies worldwide.
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