Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Aug 26th 2021 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under platforming, playstation, sony, ps1


Insomniac, Universal, and Sony all stumbled into a smash success with the release of Spyro the Dragon. It was inevitable that a sequel would be developed and released, and that sequel would be Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage. Ripto's Rage released in 1999 with mostly the same list of credits when it came to key positions. The game would be renamed to Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer in Europe. Ripto's Rage adds much to the base of the formula of the first game while maintaining the highly consistent quality. It's a great example of a sequel which built upon the strengths of the original game while adding features to the game that do not make it feel bloated and work in line with the basic idea of platforming, exploration, and collecting that was established with the first Spyro.



Much more of an emphasis is placed on story and characters in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage. The game starts with a cutscene of Spyro hanging out during a storm in the dragon worlds. He wants to go someplace sunny and warm and sees a portal leading to Dragon Shores, so he races through with Sparx and is unwittingly caught in the Professor's interworldly portal hack that draws him into Glimmer, a level within the strange new world of Avalar. Spyro quickly meets the other major inhabitants of this strange new world, since the Professor was accompanied by Elora the faun, Hunter the cheetah, and Zoe the fairy. However, this hopeful meeting for the residents of Avalar soon turns sour when their main source of trouble in Ripto shows up with his minions, Crush and Gulp.


The late 90s are when the early 3d video game experiments were starting to really bear fruit. The era of early 3D consumer gaming experiments, dating from late 80s arcade game tech demos such as Atari Games' Hard Drivin' up through the release of the PS2 and into the mid-2000s could be looked at as a more experimental era now. Even the first Spyro released rather late in this phase of 3D development, likely helping to lead to a more refined and maturing of the game's design. Insomniac also had earlier 3D platforming games to be inspired by, which helped to determine current trends in the market. Ripto's Rage builds upon Spyro the Dragon by adding variety to the gameplay. The first Spyro can easily be looked at as a pure platforming experience, with the focus being entirely on collecting treasure, catching egg thieves, and saving dragons. Everything else, including the game's boss battles, came secondary to the main gameplay loop. Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage adds non-player characters to each level and has the more permanent main characters of Elora, Hunter, Professor, Zoe, and Moneybags reside throughout the hub worlds and scattered about in the various levels within. The NPCs in the game's main levels will give a bit of backstory to the level, give out the talisman at the end of the level, or give Spyro a challenge that will reward an orb for completing.

Overall, the same main gameplay formula is followed from the first game, with the only major change being the challenges serving as a lock to separate Spyro from the orbs. Other than that, it's all about collecting treasure, exploring, getting talismans, and finding orbs. Collecting every talisman in the first two worlds will lead you to a boss fight, Crush, Gulp, and then Ripto, in that order. The challenges do a great job of adding some difficulty to finding the collectible orbs. These challenges also helped the developers to introduce a massive amount of variety in gameplay. Levels reset when Spyro leaves them and comes back, so these challenges can be repeated for any reason such as practice or just to play for fun. There is not much reason to do this other than just getting better at a tricky challenge. However, because of all the various challenges, there ends up being a rather small number of truly good ones. Many of the challenges end up being annoying due to odd technical issues or just being poorly designed. Even looking at discussions of them in the Spyro community ends up giving an idea of which ones are generally the most annoying, but the total unique number listed is generally quite high.


The trolley is always high on the list.

The graphics of Ripto's Rage are similar to the first but have obviously taken a step up in quality and detail. Vibrant colors remain the center focus of the art direction, but Avalar does seem to be a bit more grounded than the magical pastel-colored Dragon World of the first game. Animations are smooth, and the sound design is rather strong. Players will not run into stray sound effects or lag in the audio department, but there are some spots in the original release that has frame rate drops. Stewart Copeland thankfully returns to compose the soundtrack. His style stands out and works to fit in with the established Spyro sound as well as shift with the changes brought about in this adventure through Avalar. In late 2018, the Spyro: Reignited Trilogy released which completely rebuilt the first three games to modern graphical standards. Thankfully this is a well-made and well-received remake that also includes a bit of rebalancing and polishing with some of the challenges.

Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage comes together in a way that makes it stand on its own while building on the base Spyro formula. Most fans of the first love the game as a result, and the Spyro fan community has become more of a long-term prospect that is still quite sizable. Upon release, Ripto's Rage was a huge critical hit, and it sold millions of copies. These sales are roughly similar to what Squaresoft was seeing with the post-Final Fantasy VII releases in the same series, so Insomniac definitely scored a hit straight to one of the core segments of the Playstation 1's user base.

While Spyro built a big audience on the back of its critical and commercial success, the viability of the PS1 as the major leading console was starting to near the tail end of its life. Hype was building for Sega's Dreamcast, and everybody knew Sony would have to release a new console as an answer. A third game in the Spyro series would release the following year of 2000 on the first Playstation called Spyro: Year of the Dragon. 2000 was also the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac so everything came together in time for Spyro's PS1 swan song. It would generally match the success of the first two games. However, multiple sales charts show that each game even in this first trilogy saw a decrease in overall sales with each release. The game is still one of the best platformers for the Playstation, and, since it sold well, it's still quite affordable to get an original copy with prices hovering between $20-30. The Reignited Trilogy is a great way to get all three of these games at once, and its price is coming down as age starts to sink into the release.




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Comments
 
Good write-up! Spyro 2 was actually my 1st experience with the series, and I quite enjoyed it, though I never managed to finish the game. I think I got close, but didn't put in the time. I should probably remedy that at some point...

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