Last week I had the chance to go out to Novato, California to do a studio tour of Toys for Bob, interview the team behind the Spyro Reignited Trilogy and actually go hands on with the game. Throughout the week I will be putting up the highlights of my talks with various members of the team, including insights about the art direction, the music choices, the overall tone and design as well as the process of actually making this game. Today I am just going to talk about the game itself. I was in mixed company out there, from people in attendance who had never played Spyro as a kid, to my friend Jeremy over at Achievement Hunter who has played the original trilogy more than 10 times since the Reignited Trilogy was announced. I fell somewhere between those two extremes, having played the games several times as a kid but not thinking about them much since then.
After the announcement though, I was intrigued. I was all in on the Skylanders hype when they first launched, collecting all of the figures for the first two ?generations? if you will, before I eventually had to stop or risk a messy divorce for spending all of our money on little figures that sat on my shelves. For all of the fun that Skylanders brought to the table however, I always looked at it as an offshoot of Spyro. If you will pardon the pun, Skylanders ?Reignited? my desire to see Spyro return in his own games again. I know I am not the only one who got that itch either, and Spyro Reignited Trilogy delivers on all fronts, at least in the brief time I had with it.
When it comes to re-releasing an old game, I see most games in one of two categories. It is either a remaster or a remake. To me, a remaster is the same game with a fresh coat of paint. Maybe some new background textures, a resolution boost, maybe a few quality of life improvements, but still the same game. A remake is a new version of an old game, built from the ground up. Many changes will be present, but the core story and mission will remain the same. Spyro Reignited falls in between those two choices.
Insomniac did not have the original assets for Spyro to give the folks at Toys for Bob to start work on the Reignited Trilogy, so they had to start entirely from scratch. A lot of people might have taken that loss as an opportunity to create a different game with their own vision as opposed to sticking true to the source. Toys for Bob did not take that approach, instead they tasked one of their engineers with making a program that analyzed every bit of data they could gather from the original games on their original consoles and translate that into their version. They created all of the character designs and environments in the game from scratch, while sticking as close to the original models or intent as possible, and placing them in their exact places and giving them their exact paths, if a little bit smoothed out.
This approach to designing the Spyro Reignited Trilogy results in one of the most faithful recreations of an original game from 2 decades prior with completely up to date, current gen visuals and the same satisfaction and FEEL of the original. Sure, it has been a long time since I sat down and played Spyro, but as soon as I started playing Reignited I remembered what I was doing. I was immediately transported back to the hours and hours I spent with my Dad trying to get every gem and see every dragon the game had to offer. Fans of the original trilogy will not be disappointed with how the Reignited Trilogy plays. Newcomers will also be able to play and love Spyro for the first time. Luckily, this is a game that, unlike some other remasters and remakes, has controls that hold up today. You can make adjustments in the game obviously to better suit a particular style of play, but it really isn?t necessary. No matter your previous experience with Spyro, there is something here for you to enjoy.
One of the first things people were looking for upon my return from the studio was some type of answer in regards to the question of whether or not the entire trilogy was on the disk or if it requires a download. While the answer we received was a bit vague on specifics, they said that ?elements of all three games will be on the disk, but a day one download will be required to access all of 2 and 3?. In other conversations and throughout some further discussion, I believe that the disk will have the entirety of the first game, with certain parts and levels of the other two games available to play. Players without access to the internet will have enough of an experience with the second and third games to enjoy them, but it will not be the full game. I hold the unpopular opinion that this is OK. Almost every major game has a day one patch of some type, and some of those games are not playable in their full version without this. We live in an ?always connected? world. While I understand and sympathize with those who feel this is wrong or in some way a betrayal, I do not see this as some type of deal breaker.
I can also tell you, after spending a couple days with these men and women, that there is no malice or intention to hurt the consumer in this decision. Everyone I met was passionate, consumer focused and genuinely concerned with fans having a perfect experience. They cared more than anyone I have ever met in these tours and among the studios that I have visited. That is in no way to say that the other people I have met did NOT care, but the folks at Toys for Bob had a passion and attention to detail that goes above and beyond what anyone could expect.
In the interviews I am going to cover this week, I will be going into more detail about the art direction, the musical choices and some of the core ideas that brought the Spyro Reignited Trilogy to life. As for the game itself, I can say without a doubt it is one of the most lovingly crafted recreations I have ever seen. It is a perfectly executed product of the source material, and without a doubt the best remaster of 2018, and that is saying something with the games we have already gotten. If the final product is as good as the parts we were able to play, Spyro Reignited will be a must buy this year.