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The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon

For: DS   Also on: Mobile

Spyro-singly good fun

Product: Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon | Developer: Etranges Libellules | Publisher: Activision Blizzard | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Adventure, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon DS, thumbnail 1
As a gaming hero, Spyro has never really managed to steal centre stage. It's partly because, unlike most characters aimed at the young ones, we have to take him so seriously. Everyone speaks in husky tones about prophecies, spirit and heroic deeds, despite, at heart, it obviously being just a game about a little purple dragon and his dragonfly sidekick trying to save the world. Still, you have to be a pretty grumpy sort not to like him just a little bit.

And so we find ourselves at the end of The Legend Of Spyro trilogy, the most recent release in the series having been The Eternal Night, a game we'd happily consign to history. By contrast, The Dawn of the Dragon is all about capital-f Fun.

Spyro awakes from a three-year nap to discover that things have, predictably, changed. Malefor, his nemesis, has begun to kick up a fuss, and the player - taking charge of young dragons Spyro and Cynder - has to go and sort it out. The whole plot, told in modest cut-scenes, is fairly deep for a kid's game, and provides a real sense of adventure, helped along by the excellent voice acting.

But no-one buys a game to hear Elijah Wood talk about evil dragons. Not just for that, anyhow.

Spyro's essence lies in familiar platformer territory. The gameplay has a few extra bells and whistles attached, but you're basically tasked with travelling through levels, leaping obstacles and reaching the end, which usually harbours a boss or some kind of surprise. Spyro has his claws to defend himself with, as well as a dazzling array of elemental 'breath' attacks, which range from spitting ice to breathing fire. It's all wrapped up in a sensible control system that only occasionally irritates.

Punctuating the platforming are several flying levels, in which Spyro and Cynder glide from place to place, aided by your control on the D-pad, with the stylus being used to tap enemies on the touchscreen. The controls are responsive, and the targeting satisfying, making these sections welcome relief from constant leaping and fighting; although the game does use the opportunity to set up flying boss battles, which tend to be confusing and hard to solve without trying over and over again.

This action is enhanced with a couple of interesting ideas, one of which is the co-operation between Cynder and Spyro - a tap of the left trigger switches one dragon out of play and brings the other one in. They both have unique breath elements that serve different purposes. Collecting gems upgrades these in strength, but they're also used to open certain doors and defeat enemies with specific weaknesses. With eight elements in play, it can get a little overwhelming, but after the first few levels, combat becomes much easier to manage.

A rudimentary combo system makes an appearance too, rewarding you for combining attacks with health and other collectables. It's fairly basic, but it adds variety to the combat as even the weakest enemy takes several hits to go down.

Graphics have always been a strong point of the series, and visually The Dawn of the Dragon fares well. The two-dimensional gameplay is based on a faux-3D engine that gives the levels much-needed depth, and makes the flying sections quite pretty indeed. The presentation doesn't stretch as far as the music though, and coupled with the cutscene quality, it points to much of the budget being spent on the voice acting. Elijah Wood comes at a price, even in purple dragon form.

In a similar vein, there aren't many extras tacked on either. No multiplayer, very few secrets except the occasional power-up, and yet, The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon feels like an above-average purchase. Not a perfect gaming experience, and certainly not without its flaws, but a solid, sensible platformer that won't get irritating after five minutes.
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon
Reviewer photo
Mike Cook | 2 December 2008
The Legend of Spyro trilogy finishes on a high note. It's imperfect, but highly enjoyable, lacking only polish and length
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