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The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night

For: DS   Also on: GameBoy, Mobile

It can be the Eternal Nightmare

Product: The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night | Developer: Griptonite Games | Publisher: Sierra Entertainment | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night DS, thumbnail 1
There was a time when slaying dragons was all the rage. At the weekends we'd suit up in our stainless steel best, take the good horse out of the garage and ride on down to the local enchanted forest. Of course, now they're all endangered and games developers seem to be in favour of helping the little critters out, rather than promoting further barbarity.

After having played Eternal Night, however, you may be in the mood for picking up the sword again.

For those of you who've encountered the little purple dragon Spyro and his dragonfly sidekick before, a lot of Eternal Night may seem familiar to you. You're tasked yet again with saving the world, this time from the fittingly-titled Dark Master, who's aiming to resurrect himself.

If you're detecting elements of a Christmas hit with the kids, then you're not far off – Spyro isn't a violent bloodbath or a mind-taxing strategy game. But that doesn't mean it's a simple platform jumper, as the game has some neat variation in it and at times can be extremely challenging. Unfortunately, this isn't always intentional though.

Spyro can jump, use his wings to glide, breathe fire and butt with his horns – and that's before you've upgraded his powers and been granted new ones. Using gems collected throughout the game's levels, he can even beef up his array of elemental powers with extra damage or range, making it a little easier to get past the varying enemies. Other gems have differing effects, from boosting health to powering special moves.

In fact, there are plenty of manners to dispatch the monkeys, slugs and huge dragons you'll meet on your quest – up-front butting and magic is one way, but you can also knock them up into the air and finish them off with a few swishes on the touchscreen. Or, for those hard-to-shift enemies, Spyro can unleash a Fury attack, activated by a simple pattern-matching game and making quite a fireworks display in the process.

Combat is really the only painless part of Spyro, though. As a platformer, it falls foul of many of the classic slip-ups some players may be familiar with. The game is littered with painfully pixel-perfect jumps, instant-death areas filled with water or similar hazards, and tricky navigation that isn't entirely friendly to the DS's D-Pad.

This isn't made any easier by the in-game camera, which does its best to keep up with Spyro but can sometimes get a bit confused. In particular, when the camera tries to turn it doesn't remember which way Spyro is moving – so if you hold left on the D-Pad and the camera turns through ninety degrees, Spyro turns too, and usually plummets off whatever ledge you were traversing like a big, purple rock.

Eternal Night does try to minimise irritation by frequently saving your progress, but you can only solve a puzzle a certain number of times before it becomes incredibly frustrating and some sections in particular truly beggar belief. One boss battle took us half an hour to finish, not only because the boss had a seemingly unavoidable attack, but because every death forced us to redo the same two preceding Power Crystal puzzles all over again.

Still, Power Crystal puzzles are at least one of the niftier additions to Spyro, and do help to break up the cycle of platforming and death. The aim is to direct light beams from their source to several targets with the help of mirrors and prisms, and the game even has a standalone puzzle-based mode for a rather different challenge. Some of the puzzles are extremely taxing, true, but make for a soothing diversion to the main story.

Spyro has plenty of good points: the graphics engine is nice and bright; the plot is told in an enjoyable storybook style; and even though it can be difficult, the action is split up quite nicely to make it simpler for younger gamers to play. Plus it's in real 3D this time, which is a significant technical step up from the last game.

The thing is, we enjoyed the previous Spyro DS outing a lot more, and one of the reasons may have been the simplicity it offered. Somehow, in the jump from the strange top-down camera to the new glorious graphics, Spyro has picked up a lot of complications and bad habits. There's some fun to be had if you're a fan of the little firebreather, but the DS has plenty of better platformers worth hunting down.
The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night
Reviewer photo
Mike Cook | 19 November 2007
The Eternal Night tries its best to capture the classic Spyro recipe, but is let down by poor design, an unfair camera and infuriating difficulty spikes
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