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DS  header logo

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning

For: DS   Also on: GameBoy, Mobile

This one breathes fire

Product: The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning | Developer: Griptonite Games | Publisher: Sierra Entertainment | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning DS, thumbnail 1
If the stories of feral children raised by animals are anything to go by, it usually turns out alright in the end. Mowgli the man-cub made it back to his village, while Romulus founded Rome. Okay, so he also killed his brother Remus. In which case, who knows what lies in store for modern equivalents such as David Banda-Ciccone or Maddox Jolie?

At least we're on pretty safe ground when it comes to the case of the little purple dragon who grew up thinking he was a dragonfly.

Oh Spyro. One of gaming's most misunderstood characters, he's spent most of his existence overshadowed by that overbearing, overexposed marsupial Crash Bandicoot. But for once the title of his latest game, The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning, does contain a fragment of truth – this is something of a new start for the little fella.

Which isn't to say the game isn't anything more than an extremely well-put together top-down action adventure, with the standard array of touchscreen puzzles and some roleplaying-lite elements. Because that's exactly what it is.

And that's exactly why it works so well.

Perhaps the most impressive feature, though, is the precision of the learning curve. After the usual bit of backstory – Spyro destined to restore balance to the world, evil Dark Master imprisoning good dragons and trying to destroy Dragon Temple, and so on – you're straight into the rough and tumble.

Starting off with a simple melee attack, before too long Spyro's getting ferocious thanks to his fire breath, which you can spark off using either single fireballs or an area attack. And each time you successfully flame an enemy, your fury attack meter builds up. When it's full, you can trigger it, getting a simple option to tap the stylus on enemies in the correct order to hit them all in an orgy of glorious explosions. Kaboom!

Actually, at this stage, the game seems a little easy, as vanquishing enemies also results in them dropping gems which, in turn, refill your breath meter.

However, as different enemy types come into play things get more tricky. The grunts are easy to deal with; even though there are plenty of them, they're pretty dumb and run straight towards you. But they have their own support units, in the shape of disciples who will heal them, while their leaders have shields to deflect your fire away, as well as the ability to throw grenades at you.

Then, to really complicate matters, you'll often find yourself in small areas with limited health power-ups, which are suddenly locked-down, forcing you to fight off lots of spawning enemies to remove the barriers and progress. Even with the auto lock-on system, it can get a little frantic. It's a good thing, then, that each stage is broken up with save points at the start so you never have to repeat too much of the game.

Of course, as you do progress through the six multi-stage levels, these sorts of complexities only grow. You get three new breath abilities – electric, earth and ice, each of which work best on certain enemy types, and come with upgradable power levels. In turn, the behaviour and skill of the enemies also mutates, and eventually you're fighting rolling armadillos you have to tap with the stylus before they become vulnerable, ghostly axe-throwing imps, mysterious rapid-fire fish and shock-wave inducing brutes – usually simultaneously.

At the end of each level, there's also a boss battle to undertake. Again, these show plenty of imagination on the part of the gamemaker, as they use an on-rails approach, where Spyro's flying pattern around the boss is automatically controlled. You still have to dodge the boss' attacks using the D-pad, as well as attacking various parts of their armour, weapons and body by aiming and firing with the stylus, until they are defeated.

Less well integrated though, are the touchscreen mini-puzzles. Scattered throughout, these are strange optical curios in which you must move a fixed number of mirrors – some are prisms that split the light, some are just reflective – in order to get the light from the source into various crystals. To be honest, most people will find them far too easy, making them somewhat redundant.

Still once you've completed the game, you can replay it with all your buffed up powers, as well as gain access to extra light puzzles, various cheats, and play the arcade mode to try to improve your fastest time through the game, should such a challenge appeal. The only obvious downside is the lack of multiplayer modes.

So all-in-all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable package. The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning won't amaze you, but on occasions, it will surprise you with its attention to detail and well-thought out delivery. And that's good enough for any small dragon on the comeback trail.
 
The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 28 November 2006
The dragon returns to form. The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning is a well-designed, satisfying action game
 
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Anonymous | 18:51 - 7 April 2009
I have a good coment just go to spyro dawn of the dragon pocket gamer to read it!
 
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