The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning Review

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning is an attempt to reinvent the game series starring the purple dragon raised by dragonflies after a string of mediocre games that were not well-received by gamers or critics. Hey it worked for Batman, why not Spyro? Well Batman Returns worked because of a great story and for a game to succeed it needs great gameplay. The Legend of Spyro has slick graphics and some good celebrity voice work, but unfortunately that all important gameplay just isn’t there.

The Legend of Spyro begins at the beginning, with the dragon egg with Spyro inside sent floating down a river to save his life from the evil black dragon Cynder. The egg comes to rest near an idyllic meadow where it is found by a couple of fireflies who decide to raise Spyro as their own. One day a particularly stressful situation involving Spyro’s dragonfly brother causes him to let loose with some fire breath and his parents are forced to tell him the true story of his origin. This inspires Spyro to take to the road to find out about where he truly comes from.

On the story side of things The Legend of Spyro works well enough. Elijah Wood does a good job as the voice of Spyro, and he and David Spade as Spyro’s dragonfly brother work well together. The game also adds Gary Oldman as the voice of Spyro’s dragon mentor. Don’t expect an Oscar caliber epic here – the voicework is good but the story and dialog are standard video game fare. Apparently the developers thought the story was great, though, as gameplay is frequently interrupted by cutscenes.

Where things start to go wrong is in the gameplay. The series’ focus has been changed from platforming to fighting, and endlessly mashing an attack button for a cute purple dragon is not all that much fun in the end. You’re given two basic attacks: a punch and an elemental breath attack. As the game progresses you’ll learn new elemental attacks (Spyro can breathe more than fire) and attack combos. For the most part, though, it doesn’t matter which elemental attack you use and whether or not you use combos. You’ll spend a lot of time firing off a breath attack and then following it up with mashing of the attack button. Since you’re usually assaulted by multiple attackers at once and there are a lot of bright fight graphics for each swing and hit, fights resemble those clouds of dust that you see in cartoon fights. It’s hard to even see the combos when you unleash them.

One of the biggest problems with the fighting is that there is simply way too much of it. Levels have gone from worlds to explore to a linear progression of brawls. You follow a set path, come to an open area, fight off waves of attackers, and then head down the path to the next fight. There’s really nothing to do in between the battles except look at the scenery during your short jaunt to your next fight.

It’s hard to recommend the game to anyone. Kids will like the idea of playing as Spyro until they find that he has very little interaction with the world around him outside of creaming every creature he encounters. Older gamers will find the gameplay simply too repetitive and simplistic. A new beginning for Spyro was a good idea, but this game is more of a false start.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 64%. This new beginning is not an especially good start.


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