It’s been a hot minute since my Spyro 1 review. I think it’s about time to revisit the little purple dragon! Cause I sure as hell don’t wanna play Crash 4!
Don’t even ask, I’m never playing another Crash Bandicoot game again.
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage does a lot to build on the foundation laid out in the first game. The story is still childishly simple, but that’s a) the point and b) what makes it work, and it adds extra gameplay elements to make the platforming feel truly unique, engaging, and fun! The only thing they didn’t improve on much was the visuals. And yes, I am talking about both the PS1 version and the modern remakes. The ladder of which is what I’ll be reviewing today.
As tempting as it is to bust out my ol’ PS1 and play it. I still love those games, graphical issues and all.
Story: A Heroic Vacation
This isn’t a complex story. There are no character arcs, no complex themes, and the setting doesn’t have excessive detail poured into it. It’s a cartoonish story about a good dragon beating up a bad guy.
I can really appreciate that.
Intending to go on a vacation, Spyro heads through a portal to the beach. Unfortunately, his path is altered, taking him to the realm of Avalar. Here, he’s recruited by Elora the Faun, Hunter the Cheetah, and the Professor, in order to defeat Ripto, an evil warlock ruling the land with an iron fist. Now, Spyro must gather various gems and items from the portals spread across Avalar and save the day!
That’s it. That’s the story. A simple ‘beat the bad guy’ plotline. Perfect for a feel-good platforming game! Sure, it isn’t especially memorable. But it doesn’t need to be! It just gives you a little motivator to move through the game.
If the game itself couldn’t do that.
Presentation: A True Playable Cartoon
My god, dude, this game looks so good! Toys for Bob absolutely nailed the aesthetic of this game! It’s so bright, colorful, and smooth! Just looking at it puts a big, doofy smile on my face! It just makes me feel good, man!
It certainly helps that each level has a unique visual aesthetic. From frozen villages to fantastical forests or ancient pyramids, you’ll be taken to all sorts of fun stages throughout your adventure! It gives the game a great sense of visual variety that makes playing it super fun!
Music wise, this game is pretty good. Nothing really stands out as super memorable, but nothing makes me want to scream. Plus, you have the option to switch between the new and the old music, which is a really nice touch!
You wanna play a cartoon? One that just makes you feel good rather than brutalizing you (cough cough Cuphead)? This is the game for you!
Gameplay: Building on the Foundation
Spyro 1 was a good platformer, but not an especially amazing one. It felt very limited and bare bones, like the designers didn’t know what else to do or didn’t have the time to fulfill their full vision. After you’ve played for ten minutes, you’ll likely have already mastered it, or at least come close.
Spyro 2, on the other hand? This has got some depth to it!
The core gameplay is still very simple. Spyro is put into a level in which he needs to burn/bash enemies, get gems and other collectibles, and beat the bosses whenever they show up. Rinse and repeat until you’ve got enough collectibles to reach the final level, beat the final boss, and finish the game. Simple stuff.
The biggest improvement is in Spyro’s abilities. In the first game, all you could really do is run, breath fire, jump, and glide. Now, though? You can climb, ground pound, do an extra hop while gliding to increase your mobility, so on and so forth! Sure, it isn’t as deep as, say, Mario Odyssey. But it adds so much more variety to the gameplay than what we saw in the first game!
The boss fights are a huge improvement, too! In the first game, you couldn’t even consider them bosses! In Spyro 2, they’re a huge improvement! They’re decently challenging, testing the player’s skills in a fun way! Sure, there are only three of them. Sure, they’re only really hard if you’re either drunk or high or a child (guess which one I was in my latest playthrough). But they’re fun!
My only real problem with the gameplay is the final collectible grind at the end. See, if you don’t get a certain number of the green orbs, you can’t access the final boss. If you skipped the optional objectives in the levels leading up to it, you’ll be forced to do a ton of grinding right at the last minute. This can be kind of a drag. Nothing takes the wind out of my sails quite like the game stopping me from progressing and forcing me to grind.
Says the guy who plays RPGs.
I don’t have the same nostalgia for Ripto’s Rage that I have for Spyro 1. As a kid, I only ever got the chance to play the first game. It wasn’t until years later that I got to play Ripto’s Rage and Year of the Dragon.
Even with my rose-tinted glasses, I can safely say that Spyro 2 is a much better game than the first. It’s an improvement in almost every way! It’s super fun from start to end, easily one of the most satisfying platformers I’ve ever played! Even if you haven’t played the first game, I’d highly recommend playing this one! It’s an absolute joy!
Just… don’t play Year of the Dragon immediately afterwards. That’ll give you some serious burnout.
But we’ll get to that some other time.