Spyro: A Hero's Tail Impressions

Everyone's favorite fire-breathing purple dragon will return to the PS2 later this year.

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Spyro: A Hero's Tail
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We recently had the opportunity to see an early version of Spyro: A Hero's Tail for the PS2 in action. The new game has been in development for about two years at UK studio Eurocom, the creator of such other games as Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds and Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. The new game will attempt to update the Spyro series for a slightly more mature audience by featuring larger environments that are both darker and more menacing than those of the previous games. The game will also have a larger roster of playable characters, each with his or her own numerous special abilities.

Fiery breath is just one of the abilities Spyro will need to complete his quest.
Fiery breath is just one of the abilities Spyro will need to complete his quest.

According to the game's story, Spyro must rescue the world from the influence of "dark gems," which are evil jewels that have been scattered throughout the land by the evil Red, a dragon who was banished from the elder dragon council. Dark gems are magic items that turn Spyro's otherwise cheery homeland into dark forests and cracked landscapes lined with lava floes. The environments in A Hero's Tail will be much larger than those in the previous games, since the game will use streaming technology to load environments continuously. It will also feature what the publisher describes as "real-time morphing," which is an effect that causes objects and environments to change in real time. This will specifically come into play when Spyro locates and destroys a dark gem that is casting its evil influence on an area. After Spyro destroys a dark gem, the overcast and forbidding landscape of the area he's currently in will give way to the bright and colorful look it used to have.

Fortunately, in the new game, Spyro will have a larger arsenal of weapons to use when dealing with this new threat. For instance, he will be able to use one of four breath attacks, and each one inflicts fire, ice, electricity, or (now) water damage. He'll also have new abilities that will help him fight his enemies so that he can make his way through challenging platformer-style areas. Spyro's new abilities include a horn dive (an attack that lets him drop onto his opponents, horn-first, from midair), a ledge grab (an attack that lets him latch onto ledges so that he can clamber up them), and a wall kick (an attack that lets him make his way up opposing wall faces).

Spyro will be joined by new friends, like Hunter.
Spyro will be joined by new friends, like Hunter.

Spyro will also be joined by four other playable characters, whom you'll take control of at various points in the game. One such character is Hunter the cheetah, who can walk upright, double-jump, perform a midair-stomp attack, fight enemies up close with a simple set of combination attacks, and fire arrows with a longbow, as well as shield himself from attacks by spinning his bow rapidly. Hunter will carry two kinds of arrows--standard, which are unlimited in number, and fire, which are limited in number. Spyro will also be joined by Sgt. Byrd, a militant bird you'll control in the game's aerial missions and who is equipped with air-to-air missiles and bombs. You'll also be able to play as Spyro's sidekick, Sparx the dragonfly, whom you'll control in the game's aerial racing missions. Finally, the game will also include an all-new character, Blinky the mole (the nephew of the professor from Spyro 2), who carries a missile launcher on his back and can duck under his own helmet to shield himself.

Spyro: A Hero's Tail is scheduled for release later this year.

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