Review: Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!

 Reigniting the flame of the original.

Console: Nintendo Switch

Spyro the Dragon, the family-friendly 3D platformer, became quite successful for the PlayStation 1 and Insomniac games over the holiday season of 1998. Thus, developer Insomniac games went to work on a sequel for the following holiday season. That game is Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and the subjects of today's review. Well, more accurately, it's the remastered version found in the Reignited Trilogy that I'm going to take a look at. Why am I taking a look at this version of the game, the one that comes in a collection, rather than the original? Well, because while looking up reviews for the Reignited Trilogy I could only find reviews about the combined package. Reviews on the individual games were hard to come by and I found this rather annoying. Thus, I've decided to write those myself.

So, let's see how Insomniac Games improved on their original hit and see what Spyro 2 has to offer. Let's dive in!

Ripto's Rage picks up not long after the events of Spyro the Dragon. After defeating Gnasty Norc and freeing all of the dragons, Spyro and his buddy Sparx the Dragonfly decide to on vacation to Dragon Shores. When they run through the portal leading to Dragon Shores, however, they don't end up in there. Instead, the two are teleported to the world of Avalar. There, he learns from Elora, Hunter and the Professor that Avalar is in danger. After a mishap with the professor's new portal technology, Avalar has been taken over by the evil wizard Ripto and his two henchmen. It's now up to Spyro to free Avalar from Ripto's control. To do this, he needs to find 14 magical Talisman. He also needs to collect enough orbs to restart the portal to get to Dragon Shores afterwards for his long-deserved vacation.

Just like with its predecessor, the plot of Spyro 2 is simple. A bad guy is threatening the land and it's up to Spyro to stop it. Nothing that hasn't been done before, nothing that groundbreaking. To be fair though, the story of Spyro 2 is improved compared to that of the original game. This has everything to do with the fact that Spyro 2 has cutscenes placed regularly throughout the game, unlike its predecessor. Before and after a level, you get a 30 second-ish cutscene showing you how Ripto's forces are making a mess of the world and the people celebrating after Spyro has freed them. After each boss fight, there's also a much longer, voice acted cutscene that shows Ripto moving on to the next world. On the whole, the story is still not much, but the added cut-scenes add some much-appreciated flavour to the story and the improves the overall presentation.

The gameplay of Spyro 2 is the same as its predecessor, just with some added moves. Aside from the basic running and jumping, Spyro has a head charge, fire breath and a glide. Certain enemies, when they wear metal, for example, can only be hit by the supercharging while others can only be hit with the fire breath. Same goes for certain objects and obstacles like metal chests. The additions Spyro 2 makes are two new moves and two new ways to interact with the world. Learned from the game's supporting cast (primarily the gem loving bear Moneybags) these moves are an extra jump for your glide, a head bash, swimming and climbing. These moves give you extra options in terms of combat and above all else world traversal. They are a nice addition to what Spyro can do even if I feel it's a bit weird that stuff like 'climbing a ladder' is something Spyro has to learn but I digress.

Spyro 2 also adds in actual power-ups. Defeated enemies don't drop gems or life orbs anymore. Lives are now gained through blue coloured Butterflies. Enemies now drop but what I can only describe as 'light orbs'. When you collect enough of them, the gates that grand you the power-up will activate allowing you to make use of them. The super run and super flame return in this way, alongside brand new ones like the ice breath. These power-ups are more often than not used for mini-games, a brand-new addition to the game and quite a big part of it to boot. Each level has them ranging from very simple and short ones like shooting some enemies to more elaborate mini-games such as a lengthy minecart sequence. Luckily for us, the game indicates the difficulty and length of each mini-game before staring it. If you're not in the mood for a lengthy affair, you can also come back to it later.

The helpful prompt the game gives you before starting each mini-game.

"coming back to it later" is actually a quite fitting way to describe how the levels have changed from the first game to its sequel. Spyro 2 goes the way many games go for their second outing. Fewer, yet longer levels. Instead of six worlds, there are now only three. While in the original game levels with 400 gems in them (the best way to measure the length of a level) are few and far between it's the standard in the sequel. All levels have 400 gems in them, all levels are quite long. Around 15 if you just go from point A to point B. 30+ minutes if you try to do everything in one go. The game nudges you more to just run through the levels to get the Talisman and then come back later for the gems and extras. A shift from the original, where the game pushed you more in completing each level in one go. It's a change that depends on taste, but I will say that I feel that some levels do overstay their welcome at times due to their length.

Another change? This game has actual boss fights this time around. No longer are the 'bosses' unceremoniously thrown in at the end of just a random level. No longer are they just larger versions of regular enemies. No, the bosses are unique, placed at the end of a world with proper build-up. Nice. What hasn't changed are the flying levels. Yes, they are called Speedways now but they function exactly the same as in the first game. Spyro flies high in the sky, avoiding obstacles and trying to meet the levels goals within the given time. They are fun, though don't control as well and some objectives can be a bit tedious.

In terms of how the game looks, sound and runs, it's the exact same as its predecessor. The version I'm reviewing is the reignited trilogy after all. It's all handled very well, though there is some slowdown in the loading screens. The entire sound design, from the soundtrack to the voice acting, has been re-recorded and sound amazing. With how much more voice-acting is in this game compared to its predecessor, the good performances of the actors are much more noticeable.

Conclusion

Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage is, in short, an improvement of the original game in almost every way. It adds in more cutscenes, more moves for Spyro to do, more power-ups more… everything. While there are fewer levels, they are longer and the game makes use of this by focusing more on replayability this time around. This does make levels overstay their welcome at times (especially if you try to do everything in a level in one visit) but at the end of the day, it's worth the trade-off.

If you liked Spyro the Dragon, you'll no doubt enjoy Spyro 2 and should definitely play it (which is not hard to do since they come in the same remastered collection).

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