Spyro: Season of Ice brings the popular PlayStation series onto Nintendo's Game Boy Advance in true form. Once again, Grendor and his Rhynoc army have imprisoned all the fairies of the Dragon Realm. As Spyro, along with his little dragonfly pal, Sparx, it's up to you to rescue the fairies and gather the treasure scattered across more than 20 large 3D stages.
To re-create the freedom found in the PlayStation versions, Digital Eclipse has fashioned the GBA translation of Spyro into a smorgasbord of different level designs. The majority of areas use an isometric display that allows for large, lush worlds that are chock-full of hills, ledges, foliage, and all manner of animated peril. Although immaculately detailed (for example, with flowing water, frolicking sheep, and so on), Spyro: Season of Ice uses these huge areas as an excuse to send the player on a lengthy scavenger hunt. In all, there are 100 fairies and 7,000 total treasures to collect. To spice things up, a good number of levels occur from a top-down or behind-the-character perspective, putting you in control of Spyro or Sparx as you swoop through the air to gather even more treasure.
Much of the time, residents of the Dragon Realm will give you missions to complete to further flesh out the boundaries of a level. Whether igniting cacti, traveling to lighthouses, or just clearing Rhynocs, the amount of interaction with the locals helps give the game a sense of purpose. To fulfill their assignments, Spyro has the same selection of powers he had in previous PlayStation releases. Using the A and B buttons, you can make Spyro jump, float, and breathe fire--while the L and R shoulder buttons give you the ability to look around or charge at enemies. Each level is also set up in such a way that you really have to interact with the scenery to accomplish Spyro's objectives, which can amount to anything from scaling ledges and hopping from treetops to flame-breathing sharp objects toward a rampaging boss.
A lot of folks will find themselves turned off by the incessant scavenging that occurs in Spyro: Season of Ice, but to the developer's credit, there is a lot to keep one's mind off the monotony. Accomplishing quests, finding fairies, battling bosses, and breathing flames on everything is just as fun on the GBA as it is on the PlayStation. Better still, fans of the series should recognize a few of the GBA version's music tracks and sound effects, most of which are just as crisp as they are on Sony's console system.
Spyro: Season of Ice isn't a game that's enjoyable right from the outset, as you definitely have to get used to the tilted perspective and the skewed controls first. However, once you're used to floating diagonally and hopping ledges toward loftier areas, the game becomes quite fun.