Spyro: Year of the Dragon Hands-On

Sony brings a brand-new build of Insomniac's latest Spyro game by our office, and we get to play with each of the game's six characters.

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Spyro: Year of the Dragon
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Spyro 3 has come along quite nicely since I last saw it at E3. The graphics look sharper, the levels are more complete, and the game now has all the different characters in it, complete with some excellent voice work.

My favorite of all the new characters is Sheila the kangaroo. She's a cute brown kangaroo with huge legs and feet that happily hops about, kicking enemies and double-jumping up to high ledges. She's got a great voice complete with an Australian accent, and she's super-quick. Most of her levels involve her jumping about on high ledges, with some enemy stomping thrown in for good measure.

My second favorite would have to be Agent 9, the space monkey. He's a creation of the game's mad scientist, and he runs around in a futuristic green suit shooting enemies with his ray gun. The space monkey has a sniper mode, and many of his levels involve shooting tons of bad guys from great distances while strafing left and right to avoid enemy fire.

But the character that had me laughing the most was Bentley, the huge caveman/yeti guy. He's got this gigantic club, which he hauls about with him, and which he swings at everything in his path. He's also got this tiny little brother that occasionally pops up to help you progress through the level. Every time his brother appeared I felt compelled to smack him with the club. Hey, what can I say, I was the middle child in my family - it was second nature to me. His reaction to the assault is hysterical - the little guy actually flattens for a moment, then reinflates. I must have done this ten times before I moved on, and it was just as funny each and every time.

Spyro 3 has some cool minigames as well. I got a chance to play through the skateboarding level - you've got to hop on a skateboard and navigate around a skate park collecting different items. The ramps found in the skate park are colored differently to display what they do - some ramps allow you to jump off them and are good for launching up to higher positions, and other ramps are simply for doing tricks. While the game doesn't have any huge trick system like the standard skateboarding game might, the skateboarding mode is still a good amount of fun.

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