|This article is about the original Spyro series. You may be looking for the entire Spyro franchise, The Legend of Spyro series or the Skylanders spinoff.|
The Spyro the Dragon series is a cult franchise of platformer/adventure video games (except Shadow Legacy, which is RPG/action) released by Universal Interactive Studios starring the titular Spyro the Dragon, a tiny young purple dragon.
The franchise was created by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The first game in the series was released in 1998 exclusively for the original PlayStation. After the PlayStation 2’s release, Insomniac moved on to the Ratchet & Clank series, leaving Universal Interactive Studios (now Vivendi Universal Games) to develop the series. Additionally, several handheld spin-off games were released, developed by Digital Eclipse and Vicarious Visions.
The series' rights are currently held by Activision. The original Spyro the Dragon series was succeeded by The Legend of Spyro series and the Skylanders franchise, both of which use certain elements from it.
The Spyro the Dragon series began in 1998 with the PlayStation game Spyro the Dragon, developed by Insomniac Games and published by Universal Interactive. Insomniac went on to develop two sequels: Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! (1999) and Spyro: Year of the Dragon (2000). These three games comprise the "Insomniac Trilogy" and are the only three games released for the PlayStation. Insomniac Games announced after the release of Year of the Dragon that they would create no more Spyro games.
Spyro: Season of Ice, was released in 2001 for the Gameboy Advance, picking up the storyline where Year of the Dragon left off. It was the first in a sub-series of Gameboy Advance games. There were also two mobile phone games that acted as continuations of the GBA games' plots: Spyro (2003) and Spyro: Ripto Quest (2004). In 2002, Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly was released, which like Season of Ice takes place directly after Year of the Dragon. The console series continued with Spyro: A Hero's Tail (2004), and the original Spyro series cocluded in 2005 with the Nintendo DS game, Spyro: Shadow Legacy, which also received a mobile phone tie-in.
Police drummer Stewart Copeland composed all of the music in the first four console games. The fifth concole game's music was composed by Paul Lawler and the DS game's music was composed by Noel Gabriel. The Gameboy Advance games used music composed by Robert Baffy and Ed Cosico and by Shin'em Multimedia.
Common Gameplay Elements
Most games in the Spyro series share the same general type of gameplay, including the following prominent features:
The basic abilities of Spyro are charging, gliding, and fire breathing. Charging and fire breathing are used to attack enemies and destroy obstacles and treasure containers, while gliding is used to maneuver around the levels. Unlike in a typical platformer, in Spyro gliding allows the player to traverse vast horizontal distances rather than vertical while jumping. Charging is also useful as a way to move quickly through an area.
Sparx the Dragonfly acts as Spyro’s health meter in all games (except Shadow Legacy). He hovers near Spyro and indicates the player’s remaining hit points by his color. He begins as yellow, and each time Spyro receives damage, he changes to blue and then green before finally disappearing. If Spyro receives damage without Sparx, the player loses a life and returns to the last save point.
Hit points can be recovered by feeding Sparx butterflies, which can be obtained by defeating the harmless fodder in each level, such as sheep.
Sparx will also retrieve nearby gems. In certain games, he can gain additional abilities, such as pointing towards uncollected gems or receiving an extra hit point.
Other Playable Characters
From the third game onward, players are can control other characters in special levels. These include Sheila, Sgt. Byrd, Bentley, Agent 9, Hunter, Blink, or even Sparx himself. Each character has unique controls but retain the Sparx-based health system.
All Spyro games offer a different collectable, with the main objective of the games being to explore every level and collect all collectables, allowing players to unlock new levels and progress. Each games’ collectables are as follows:
- Spyro the Dragon: Frozen Dragons and Dragon Eggs
- Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!: Orbs and Talismans
- Spyro: Year of the Dragon: Dragon Eggs
- Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly: Dragonflies
- Spyro: Season of Ice: Frozen Fairies
- Spyro 2: Season of Flame: Fireflies
- Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs: Hearts
- Spyro: Ripto Quest: Machine Parts
- Spyro: A Hero's Tail: Dark Gems, Light Gems, and Dragon Eggs
- Shadow Legacy: Shadow Realm prisoners, unnamed objects used to unlock Shadow Amplifier doors, and Dragon Eggs.
Every Spyro games features gems, which must be collected in order to progress, usually because Moneybags demands payment to reach certain areas. Gems are found throughout all levels, either in containers (which must be destroyed in a variety of ways) or simply lying about. In most games they can also be obtained by defeating enemies. The gems are finite in all games and must be collected for 100% completion, except in Hero’s Tail, The Cortex Conspiracy, and Shadow Legacy, where they are infinite and must be used to purchase items from Moneybags’ shops.
The enemies inhabiting the levels will attack Spyro on sight and must be defeated, usually by flaming or charging. Large enemies tend to be immune to charging, while enemies in fireproof armor are usually immune to flaming. Depending on the game, defeated enemies will drop gems, life orbs, or power-up spirits, and in Shadow Legacy they can also drop butterflies, mushrooms, and XP.
A series mainstay are the Thieves, a special type of enemy who hold the game's primary collectable (traditionally a Dragon Egg) and must be chased down by Spyro and defeated.
Usually, the levels of the game are divided into homeworlds. Each homeworld acts as a central hub containing other levels. In the original games, these levels are accessed through portals in the homeworlds, although in later games the portals are no longer used. In order to reach the end of the game, the player must travel through all homeworlds, unlocking each successive homeworld by fulfilling certain conditions.
From the third game onwards, each level contains several sub-portals, leading to smaller areas containg additional challenges and minigames, which yield that game’s primary collectibles as prizes.
Each homeworld contains at least one boss battle, in which the player must dodge attacks and hit the boss’s weak point. In the first game bosses are optional, but from the second game onwards they are mandatory to reach the next homeworld. All games feature a “final boss,” whose defeat marks the end of the game’s story.
Major Recurring Characters
- Spyro the Dragon
- Sparx the Dragonfly
- Hunter the Cheetah
- The Professor
- Ooga and Mr. Bones
- Handel and Greta
- Sheila the Kangaroo
- Sgt. James Byrd
- Bentley the Yeti
- Agent 9
- Elder Tomas
- Blink the Mole
Certain Spyro games have referenced the plot of other games. This demonstrates a continuation of the overall plotline of the series. However, because the games have been developed by a variety of developers, the exact continuity is sometimes unclear.
In the opening cutscene, Spyro claims he and Sparx have not been to Dragon Shores since they “kicked Gnasty Gnorc’s butt,” which happened in the previous game.
In Sunrise Spring, Moneybags brings up Ripto’s defeat in Avalar and even takes credit for helping to defeat him. Avalar is also mentioned by Elora and the Professor in the ending cutscene, as well as by Moneybags again during his egg quest in Midnight Mountain.
Somewhat paradoxically, this game, like Season of Ice, also appears to take place immediately following Year of the Dragon. However, in this game the dragons are still celebrating the Year of the Dragon, and Moneybags appears to still be practicing haiku (as implied by his line about the gems “doing wonders for his poetry” in the Dragonfly Dojo), whereas Season of Ice takes place some time after the events of the third game, and Moneybags’ career in haiku is over. This would imply, despite being made earlier, that Season of Ice takes place after the events of Enter the Dragonfly. This game was also to feature Gnasty Gnorc as a second antagonist before being cut.
In the opening cutscene, Spyro mentions his defeat of Gnasty Gnorc. The subject also comes up during Spyro and Gnasty’s rematch in Gnasty’s Lair, could be a possible reference to his defeat in Spyro the Dragon, he was also to be featured as a second antagonist in Enter the Dragonfly.
- Main article: Spyro: Advance
The Advance series starts from where the third Spyro game left off.
This game makes several references to Year of the Dragon, including Bianca’s former servitude to the Sorceress, the Sorceress’s spell-book, Hunter’s past run-ins with Flying Sheep Saucers, the Rhynocs’ role as the Sorceress’s minions, and Moneybag’s failed career in Haiku poetry.
The ball in this game is thrown by the fairies in celebration of being rescued by Spyro in Season of Ice.
This game opens with Spyro, Hunter, and Bianca returning from their adventure in the Fairy Realms in Season of Ice.
Previous characters such as Ripto, Professor, Zoe, Hunter, Shiela, Sgt. Bird, and Bently make a return, additionally Elora was going to be also featured but was dropped do to time constraints.
Blink, from A Hero's Tail is featured in this game and Spyro already knows him, possible implication that it's set after Spyro: A Hero's Tail.
The plot of this game is a direct continuation of Attack of the Rhynocs, concerning the Professor’s machine built to keep an eye on Ripto, he breaks free from the machine that imprisoned him in AotR.
This game has possibly the most references to past games. During the story, Hunter recalls Bianca’s past with the Sorceress, and Elder Tomas mentions how Red was imprisoned in the Professor’s laboratory. Books found in Dragon Shores also summarize the events of the first three games, and an additional unused book in the game’s code does likewise for A Hero’s Tail.
The Legend of Spyro series is a complete reboot, much the same as Skylanders.
The original PlayStation games were met with praise and success and are considered to be unprecedented advancements in the field of 3D platformer games. However, the post-Insomniac games have been met with mixed reviews. The Spyro franchise has sold over 20 million units worldwide.
- The Spyro franchise is closely tied to the Crash Bandicoot franchise. The games have featured demoes of each other's games, and Spyro has even cameoed in Crash Twinsanity and the GBA version of Crash: Nitro Kart. This is similar to the relationship between another pair of Insomniac/Naught Dog series: Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter.
- In 2002, it was released from collector's edition release with three games, original Spyro game, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon.