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on 21 October 2012
"Dragons? Bah, humbug! Merely children's fantasies. If you expect grownups like us to immerse ourselves in a video game consisting of colourful fantasy realms where fire-breathing lizards have set up accommodation, then quite frankly you're as delusional as a dwarf trying to make it in the NBA. I won't play it, end of story!" Well if that's the kind of attitude you intend to show to Spyro The Dragon on the PSone, then it's one you'll deeply regret for the rest of your days. Spyro is excellent no matter how old you are when you play it.

OK, time for a plot. Spyro is a young, cocky but well-meaning dragon who lives in a dragon kingdom made up of numerous bright, colourful and magical worlds that make Willy Wonka's chocolate factory seem more like a troll's sewer dungeon. Spyro lives with older fully grown dragons who watch over the worlds and guard the many treasures that lay among the lands. But in one gloomy and not-so-pleasant world lives the game's antagonist, Gnasty Gnorc, a big lizard-like sod who makes Jackie Stallone look like Heidi Klum. Gnasty uses some newly discovered spells to turn dragons into crystal and treasure into enemies. Soon Spyro finds himself to be the last man standing (or should I say "last DRAGON standing?!") and thus starts an amazing gnorc-charging, backside flaming, treasure-hoovering adventure.

The reason why Spyro The Dragon is as iconic as it is, is because it's a 3D platformer...and a very good one at that. Nearly two years prior to Spyro's 1998 PSone release, Super Mario 64 was released on the Nintendo 64 and set the bar very high for 3D platformers. It was big; it was jam-packed with various activities; and in general it was eventful. It was also thought by many that the PSone would not be able to produce a 3D platformer as good as SM64, due to the PSone's inferior graphical powers compared to the N64. Crash Bandicoot was a great platform series but did have a restrictive SNES/Mega Drive feel to it. Croc promised a lot but failed to live up to the hype that the video games critics hoped that it would; while other platform games such as Bubsy 3D were just considered to be awful. Spyro was the first PSone 3D platformer that could be placed right next to SM64 and fair comparisons could be made between the two. In fact I dare say that the purple dragon's adventure even has a couple of advantages over the iconic one offered by the Momma-Mia-Here-I-Go-Again plumber. The pace of the game is ideally faster, and there's far more character interaction as well.

Spyro The Dragon offers a large number of brightly coloured levels stretched across six worlds. Some of them have narrow passages and hallways that require careful jumping and precise attacking in order to progress; levels such as the Ice Caves will see Spyro taking a long holiday to bottomless pit if he doesn't watch his footing or enemy attacks. But it's the wide open areas that'll really grab your attention. In those levels you can see quite far into the distance. You get the impression that you can see everything; do anything and go anywhere; and a lot of times you can. A good example is Cliff Town. When you start the level you'll see a large number of buildings in front of you, and one structure that reaches way up high. It's amazing, and you get this feeling that you can climb up to the top of these buildings and explore what they've got to offer. Guess what? You can! Then when you get to the top of the structure you turn around and you see a large piece of dry land across the river; land that appears to have remained untouched by the untidy footprints of any living being. Curiosity gets the better of you, killing a few cats in the process. "Can I actually fly over there and visit the place? You know, see what it's got to offer?"...Guess what? You can!

The size of the levels and the places you could actually visit were amazing for its day. Even now, to a certain extent, it's still fairly impressive. The music scores are pretty good as well, each one fitting its level nicely and setting the atmosphere for the tasks that lay ahead of you. My personal favourite is Dark Hollow. I just like its level layout in the general. The beautiful night time scenery (including a big moon in the sky which I keep looking up at using the triangle button), combined with the mellow-yet-lively music are constant reminders to me of why gaming in the 1990's was so cool. Another thing I like about this level is that part way through you'll come across two small piles of wood. Torch them and you'll start up a couple of small camp fires which actually light up the area a little bit. It's a really nice touch.

But wide free-roaming levels with bright scenery would count for nothing if the gameplay wasn't very good now, wouldn't it? Fortunately Spyro's gameplay is excellent. Movements are fluid and the controls are easy to grasp and master. You get to make gnorc marshmallows (not really, just creative speech) with a flame attack; charging with your horns (square) will see a few enemies sent flying towards planet Mars; and pressing the X button twice will allow you to glide for short amounts of time. These moves will come in pretty handy when reaching treasure in certain areas, or tackling the many enemies you face; enemies like matador gnorcs who are just begging for a couple of horns up the backside; soldiers who hobbies include mooning and hiding in tents; and warthogs who have clearly never heard of "Hakuna Matata."

As well as defeating enemies there are many tasks for you to do and enjoy as well. Rescue dragons from their statue status and they might give you some advice on how to play the game. Rescuing dragons is fairly rewarding, although the line "Thank you for releasing me." will start to feel like a broken record player after a while: repetitive. Also there is lots and lots of treasure to collect, some it just laying around on the ground and some of it lying on certain platforms that require a little bit of manoeuvring around the level in order to reach it. Finally there are dragon eggs which need to be retrieved from cloaked thieves. The trouble is they're quite fast so you'll need to get your running paws on...well he is a dragon. With all this stuff taking place in a relatively short game (more on that in a moment) it'll be very difficult for any player to get bored with -and dislike- this platform offering, even with its child like looks. Spyro may look like something aimed at the under-12's market, but underneath its child like exterior beats the heart of a mature game that people of all ages can enjoy.

One criticism that can be aimed at Spyro The Dragon concerns its challenge; or to be more precise, the lack of it. The enemies are a breeze to take down, and apart from the occasional tricky super-charge jump you'll be able to reach most treasure-filled areas without puffing your cheeks even once. You have to wait until you reach the third dragon world before any form of challenge comes your way. I've managed to complete this game (120%) numerous times in under four hours worth of gameplay time. In fact it usually takes me just half an hour to completely clean out the first world. That's how easy it is. If you even think about looking at a video walkthrough of this game for help, then you're more out of place in the world of video games than The 3DO Company were...look them up.

Overall, with its easy but sack-filled gameplay, colourful PSone graphics, impressively large and open levels, and confident and likeable star, Spyro The Dragon is a PSone classic. Don't let its innocent looks put you off. This is a game that everybody can enjoy: kids, teenagers, adults, boys, girls, husbands, wives...clock makers, bread bakers, phone hackers, mole whackers, people who live in boxes, people who keep pet foxes, jazz club swingers, dishers out of middle fingers, people who hold the keys, people swimming with STDs...I said EVERYBODY can enjoy this game!! It is a must-have, full stop!

Final Score: 9/10
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on 23 June 2015
Spyro the Dragon for PS1 while feels like an early game (it sure was, it was the first of the series!) it had a lot going for it, the gameplay felt great, graphics looked really good for its time, voice acting was quite good and the objective was mostly just saving dragons and collecting gems for absolute completion.

My main problem with this game was that I couldn't use the right analogue stick as the camera is something very essential and it's only usable via the digital triggers.

Aside that, it's a really good game! So if you find it for a decent price be sure to pick it up!
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on 14 April 2013
not sure whether or not it was the disk or my ps2 but it had trouble with loading... when i went into a certain area it froze too, had to restart the game and ugh... other than that the gameplay was fine, it was good value for money!
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