Spyro: The Year of the Dragon Preview

Sony's miniature purple dragon is back for one last world-saving jaunt on your PlayStation.


Spyro: Year of the Dragon

Sony's miniature purple dragon is back for one last world-saving jaunt on your PlayStation. This time he must collect countless dragon eggs, beat plenty of minigames, and face some gameplay surprises. But Spyro is well prepared - he has some friends to help him out.

It's been only a short while since Spyro saved his world from the evil Ripto, and now he has another evil menace to deal with. This time an evil sorceress has stolen all the dragon eggs from Dragon World and plans to use them in some sort of magical concoction that will make her the most powerful being in the universe. So it's Spyro to the rescue - he and his friends have to collect all the dragon eggs and eventually face the evil sorceress. In some sort of odd take on virtual-pet licenses, each of the dragon eggs contains a different baby dragon with its own name, look, and personality. Insomniac hopes that you'll be taken with the cuteness of the different characters and will be inspired to "collect 'em all."

Spyro: Year of the Dragon is spread over 37 levels grouped by location. Diversity seems to be the theme here, as not only will Spyro 3 be packed with new minigames, but it also marks the first occasion where you'll be able to play as a character other than Spyro. Now you'll switch between the six different characters as you progress through the game, using the characters' different strengths to help you beat different levels. You'll be able to play as Spyro himself, a kangaroo with a huge jump and a powerful kick, a blue penguin who flies and drops bombs on enemies, a huge wooly bear/cave monster who's slow but carries a club bigger than himself, a lithe space monkey who shoots enemies with his ray gun, and Sparks - Spyro's dragonfly/fairy companion. When you're not progressing through one of the standard platformer levels, you'll be able to spend your time playing through some of Spyro's numerous minigames. You'll be able to try your hand at boxing, skateboarding, submarine piloting, target shooting, and plenty of other games.

Spyro 3 looks just as cute and cartoony as ever. The characters have big eyes and overemphasized features, and some of the animations are extremely funny. The graphics have been enhanced somewhat over those of the last game, but it's easy to tell that the series is reaching its graphical limitations. All the dialog found in Spyro 3 features excellent voice work, which breathes life into each of the characters. All of the voices are well suited to their cartoon counterparts, and some of the voices are downright hysterical. Sony hasn't made any announcements as to whether the soundtrack will be again handled by Stewart Copeland.

With plenty of gameplay additions standing aside a good assortment of classic Spyro levels and gameplay techniques, Spyro 3 might be the most diverse Spyro game yet. While the idea of collecting more than 100 different cutesy collectable dragons may not appeal to everyone, the third and last Spyro for the PlayStation should be a welcome addition for any Spyro fan.

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