- Release Date
- 2 November, 1999
- Single Player
- Insomniac Games
- Universal Interactive Studios
- Sony Computer Entertainment
Trailing a few years after its predecessor, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (titled the decidedly less menacing Gateway to Glimmer in Europe) was released for the PS1 in November 1999. The sequel saw the return of the titular hero, Spyro, and his butterfly-murdering sidekick, Sparx. With some better-looking models, stages, colors and overall environment, a much younger me was beside herself to play the title after completing the first game.
Now, many years later, I’ve dusted off the barely held-together case to revisit another gem from the past. The question at hand is: does it hold up to my fond memories of frustration, tears and joy?
The short answer is absolutely.
In spite of its age, Spyro 2 still looks pretty damned good. The color scheme of every world, level and character still pops out in high definition TV and otherwise. All of the 3D character and creature models move fluidly, even if they aren’t beyond being mistaken for painted-up polygons. Something I always like as a kid was how each level, despite being as clichéd as Spyro’s ’90s jargon, was memorable. I remembered every one of them the moment I stepped through a new portal, and all the dread or mirth associated with each.
The plot here isn’t going to make anyone fall to their knees and weep. It essentially opens with Spyro deciding that life is just too boring around his home and he wants to take a vacation. With that decided, he jumps through a portal, where he finds an upright cheetah, a faun and a forgetful professor at the mercy of a short villain with a Napoleon complex named Ripto. Oh, and a bear with a monocle that wants you to pay him for everyday shit Spyro should already know or be able to accomplish. Stellar writing, right? Spyro, being a good guy, of course jumps in to lend a hand and off we go to adventure.
I recently wrote a piece about a fight with a mythical gander and Shao Kahn and made a mention of how all gamers tend to start out struggling to be even mediocre at games, typically by failing at them repeatedly until the proper XP is obtained. Shao Kahn was my dragon, but Spyro 2 was my pissed off Hydra that happened to be my mother-in-law. I don’t want to even try to estimate how many times I failed at the various challenges presented in the game and, trust me, there are a good handful.
Most of the quests are your standard tasks: fetch quests, kill monsters, break barrels, fetch a shrubbery – nothing too hard, right? HA! Spyro 2 made a shopping list for an old woman feel like trying to circumnavigate an endless sea of storms and monsters. The hit detection on everything – and I do mean everything – was so precise that missing once or twice spelled having to redo an entire mission. I’m getting angry just thinking about all of the times Hunter taunted me after I missed catching his stupid crystals by 0.0005 of a centimeter. Fail; listen to his voice grate on my raw and bleeding nerves; try again a thousand times until RNGesus finally showed me mercy and I won. This was the case for almost every single one of the harder challenges in the game.
At least it was when I was a kid. Returning back to my stomping grounds, I found that gaming for a decade or so had significantly improved my ability to catch crystals, stop baby turtles from jumping in a boiling pot, and more. The challenge was definitely still there and I did have to try a few times on some challenges, but I am proud to say there was no pit of shame this time around. Regardless, that hit detection is definitely spotty. Aiming a headbutt, Spyro’s flame breath or even Spyro himself can sometimes be a nightmare to maneuver, especially when the use of stealth is required. All said and done, I managed to pace myself through the game easily enough and complete it with 100 percent completion.
On that note, I must confess something. I managed to complete it entirely when I was a kid as well. Anyone who has played the game knows that doing so unlocks a special, permanent power at the end that the player can use in that game and any new game started thereafter. So, naturally, I still had my old memory card and had said power. And without revealing too much, I can honestly say that the game would’ve been much more difficult without it.
Either way, I would still have burned down everything I could, if for nothing else but pure spite.
Vendetta aside, Spyro 2 was a lot of fun to try again. The levels, the overworlds, exploration and challenge have all aged just as well as the game has visually. Even with slippery, too-precise controls, the majority of the gameplay was still enjoyable.
For fans of adventure platformers, exploration, puzzles or even of the purple main-man himself, I’d say it’s worth taking a look at once more. Just remember that it is possible to put a PlayStation controller through your TV if thrown hard enough. Not that I would know; just a fun fact to leave on. Save that aggression for Moneybags. Let the hate flow through you…