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A remaster done right? Learning from the past.

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    Spyro Reignited Trilogy

    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    A remaster done right? Learning from the past.

    Out of 100 Nobles watching�/p>

    95 were impressed!

    5 have legitimate complaint but would probably never be pleased.

    There have been a lot of remasters over the last 5 years or so, but now we have arrived at what was thought to only be a dream. A remaster of Spyro the Dragon’s original three games created by Insomniac after the franchise has been passed around like a fishmonger’s wife to it’s eventual resting place in the Skylander’s franchise was not even in the realm of possibility for me, but here we are!

    Perhaps no other remaster has come along that I have felt such entitlement to judgement as this one. Even the Final Fantasy 10 HD remaster which I had played through the original U.S. release on PS2 half a dozen times does not compare countless number of times I 100-120% completed Spyro the Dragon, Ripto’s Rage, and Year of the Dragon. Along with my entitlement to judge is the most enthusiasm for and trepidation over a remaster I have ever felt as well. Most remasters leave a lot to be desired such as my overall enjoyment of the Crash N. Sane Trilogy being greatly marred by its design choices. Luckily perhaps my most beloved childhood IP did not receive the same treatment as Crash Bandicoot, but there were still some things left to be desired.

    First comes the required disclaimer as was mentioned in my Crash Bandicoot review. A remastered game is inherently going to be judged in relation to its predecessor. It cannot be helped and should not be ignored. That said the game should be judged on its own merits and be looked at as a standalone experience, however the purpose of a remaster project should be to remaster not reimagine.

    Toys for Bob for the most part did a great job with this project. The game felt and looked amazing to play. The developers created tools to map the geometry of the game to perfection and despite the removal of view fog from the originals, newly added motion blur in the remaster, and new animations the jumps, glides, hops, and crashes are all exactly the same as their originals. I could in no way tell if there was any difference. Video’s of gems on lava Sparx the Dragonfly refused to pick up, missed jumps, and slower hop jumping were all present in the originals. It is almost eerie how well TFB could even recreate Sparx being unresponsive to pick up a gem.

    Something that felt different to me gameplay wise was directional input and chase mechanics. Some could chalk it up to my adult brain being able to draw invisible lines better but overwhelmingly throughout all three games it felt much easier to catch egg thieves and complete flight courses. The latter example really only applying to the third games installment but that is neither here nor there. I had an itching feeling over the course of playing the trilogy that perhaps the superior input of modern joysticks was giving me an edge but at the very least in the third game I discovered that was simply not the only factor at play. Egg thieves and other “chaseâ€?scenarios were moving slower than before resulting in many cases me catching enemies before completing a full lap of a super run course and in one case ruining the most satisfying part of the third game. This didn’t ruin the experience as a whole for me and Spyro is probably one of the easiest 3d platformers in existence but this change either intentional or not took a lot of the oomf out of the best parts of the series.

    There were some other gameplay changes that left me scratching my head. I believe every mini-game that had previously been played in a bird’s eye view or another perspective was instead changed to play in 3rd person like the rest of the game. This was sometimes welcome but other times extremely disappointing and I have no idea whether Agent 9 now controlling smooth as butter is a good enough tradeoff for it.

    Visually the game was very impressive. Nothing is perfect and I realize that anything would look aesthetically better than the games original single digit polygon model counts but overall TFB did a great job. The lighting in the game wasn’t so great looking pretty spotty on some models and in some dark places but it was no where near as bad as Vicarious Visions terrible job lighting Crash Bandicoot. The graphical fidelity of the game would range from orgasmic in certain levels down to looking like an Xbox 360 Viva Pinata sort of situation. For instance, the custom models for every dragon in the original game pretty much all looked amazing. The fauns of Fracture Hills were lovingly recreated and looked great, but best girl Elora who had a lot more animations that needed to be made for her looked a little bit wonky in places. That said, a slightly off model didn’t distract from the absolute delight and charm I got from the remastered cutscenes. The last cutscene in the game having just a bit more flair that the old polygons just couldn’t produce really gave me a sinking feeling that the remaster crew was constrained to the parameters of the short original cutscenes.

    Certain aesthetics of a few levels were changed too drastically in my opinion such as in the case of the Beast Maker’s Homeworld in Spyro one going from a spooky swamp to just, wellâ€?a swamp. Other changes such as the uniform pause interface and world changing across all three games resulting in the loss of the Guidebook in the second game and the physical display of gems leaving your body and going into a treasure chest were terrible design choices. I understand it must have been cheaper to make a uniform UI and may have sounded clever in a meeting room to keep the interface clean across all three games but those features were some of the most important details that gave Spyro its charm. Despite this I will say the graphically updates to the games were an overwhelming success, the all look great despite varying degrees of texture quality and theme integrity.

    One last major complaint for this project is a problem I’ve found in the industry as a whole. The quality of sound teams seems to be in the absolute gutter. The sound quality of the Reignited trilogy was to be frank, quite poor. I don’t mean that the sounds themselves were of a low crackly quality, but rather the choices of sound effects and their mixing were terrible. The voice work in the games was quite good and I even found drastic changes like the fauns in Fracture Hills having Scottish accents instead speaking like California valley girlsâ€?welcome changes. The sound effects for many enemies, however were way off. Memorable entertaining soundbites from the originals are replaced with muted generic renditions of their formal selves. The once energetic and alarming alerts of the robots in Hurricos from Spyro 2 now sound almost depressed. This coupled with the balancing of sound effects with the game’s music make the tracks almost impossible to hear if you’re playing with the reignited soundtrack. Lastly the reignited tracks frankly just shouldn’t exist. I listened to a full loop of every reignited track on every level before changing back to the original. There is just no comparison. I understand what the developers were going for with these tracks, but given the option to listen to a light and airy version of a track I love with about a 6 second reprise of the main theme’s instrument or just listening to the original I will pick the original every time. This has nothing to do with my obvious nostalgia fueled bias but rather that of theming. The original tracks had had many hard, punchy, bass instruments that set the tone and exciting pace of every single level. The remasters sometimes complete removal of the main melody ruins the emotion that is invoked in that level. Luckily the developers had the presence of mind to include an option to play with the original soundtrack which is honestly in my opinion what saved this from being another Crash Bandicoot blunder and cemented the Reignited Trilogy as a faithful remake.

    To be honest I thought about firing up the originals and using two monitors to do a side by side comparison for every aspect of these games and I may yet do that someday. Until that time I’ll gladly say the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy has such a distinct style and crisp gameplay it could easily still be enjoyed by itself to this day, that said the Spyro Reignited trilogy presents an accurate enough recreation of the original games with beautiful visuals and cutscenes that will entertain the newcomer and bring tears of joy to the nostalgic.

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