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Spyro 2: Season of Flame

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Digital Eclipse
Publisher:  Universal Interactive
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Platformer
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  12-17-02

Spyro's outings on the original PlayStation firmly established the cute little dragon as one of the premier platform franchises, thus his original outing on the GBA (gasp, a Nintendo system!) was a bit of a surprise. It proved to be a successful move though, both in terms of sales and quality. Thus a sequel is born, and it stands as one of the best original platformers on any handheld.

This game takes place immediately after the original. Upon Spyro's return to the Dragon Realms, he realizes that no dragons (including him) now have the ability to breathe fire. Thus Spyro sets out to recover the fireflies that grant the ability and defeat the evil Rhyncos. Everything is laid out in a hub-like fashion, with one main world providing portals to 25 other levels. These can generally be taken in any order, although Spyro is required to collect a certain number of gems and/or fireflies to access certain areas and abilities.

The primary difference between Spyro and other platformers is that it features an isometric perspective. This has been known to cause perspective problems in the past, but Digital Eclipse smartly laid each level out so that it isn't much of an issue. Height differences are easier to spot out, and jumps aren't taken on blind faith.

This time around Spyro also offers three different playable characters, including Spyro, Agent 9, and Sheila. Spyro's levels are the standard, Agent 9's levels are basically side-scrolling shoot-em-ups, while Sheila's levels requiring hopping from platform to platform Q-Bert style. Agent 9's levels are by far the worst, as they plod along at a slow pace with somewhat iffy collision detection. They're luckily in the minority though.

Graphically Spyro 2: Season of Flame looks a lot like it's predecessor, with the same camera perspective and similar design. Everything is colorful and vibrant, with youthful character designs somewhat average animation. It's a bit disconcerting how everything appears "blocky" due to the perspective, but the end result is a distinct visual style that separates it from most other GBA platform games.

Soundwise, Spyro 2 features a snappy soundtrack that fits the mood and younger slant of the game well. The sound effects are all loud and clear, and the sound effects accompanying character speech (kinda a stripped down version of Animal Crossing's "animalese") are amusing.

Highs:

  • Vibrant and colorful graphics.
  • Tight control scheme lessens the problems inherent with isometric games.
  • Jovial soundtrack fits the mood well.

Lows:

  • The Agent 9 levels are slow and boring.
  • No real innovation.

Final Verdict:

It won't blow you away or anything, but Spyro 2 is a solid platform game sure to appease fans of the genre. It's also different enough (thanks to the isometric perspective) that it doesn't feel like virtually every other GBA game out there, which is important on a system so saturated by platformers already.

Overall Score: 8.1

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