Spyro: A Hero’s Tail marks the latest title in the
long-running Spyro franchise to hit the current generation of consoles. A
Hero’s Tail once again puts you in the role of the little purple dragon as well
as some of his comrades. However, even though this represents a shift in the
gameplay dynamics, A Hero’s Tale plays almost just like its predecessors.
Experienced gamers may be slightly turned off by the game’s simplistic nature
and low level of difficulty, but the younger audience towards which the game is
geared should enjoy Spyro’s latest quest.
Spyro: A Hero’s Tale follows the young dragon through
the Dragon Realm as he embarks on a quest to stop Red, a huge red dragon, from
spreading Dark Gems across the land. These gems are destroying the green
landscape and turning the Dragon Realm into a dark, inhospitable place.
Therefore it is up to you to collect all of the Dark Gems in each of the areas
you explore in order to stop them from corrupting the land.
Controlwise, Spyro: A Hero’s Tale feels like any number
of platforming adventure games. Your character has a select number of moves,
including a few new abilities added to his roster, like the ability to climb up
ledges, wall bounce, a move that allows you to bound quickly up walls a la Mega
Man X, and tail swing, a grappling hook-like move that allows you to swing over
chasms and holes. None of these moves are particularly groundbreaking in the
platforming genre, but they certainly add a new level of control to the Spyro
universe. Of course, you can still perform the moves that you could previously
in Enter the Dragonfly, like breathe fire and glide through the air with your
Also new to the series is the ability to play as new
characters other than Spyro. You can now play as Hunter the Cheetah, a
character who can utilize a bow to take out enemies, Blink the Mole, a mole who
can burrow through the ground and attack enemies with either explosive mines or
an arm laser, Sgt. Byrd, a penguin who can fly and attack using missiles to take
out baddies from the sky. These characters don’t feel rushed and actually add a
lot to the gameplay.
Graphically, Spyro looks very good, although certainly
not an indication of what the Xbox is truly capable of, which is understandable
considering that the game was also developed on the PS2. The characters look
nice (albeit not terribly detailed) and are very well animated. The
environments also lack a lot of details, but appear otherwise solid. The
framerates are also super-smooth, with no hits or episodes of slowdown.
On the music and sound side, Spyro stays true to its
theme, meaning that the sound is definitely geared towards young kids. The
music is very cutesy, but what would you expect from a game staring a cute
little cartoon dragon. The voice acting is spot on, with each of the characters
sounding appropriate for this game.
Spyro is by no means a complicated game. What you’ll
find here is a simplistic, cutesy platformer with a very low degree of
challenge. Seasoned gamers looking for a challenge would do well to check else
where, but fans of the series and younger inexperienced gamers should give it a
simplistic platforming here. As Spyro, you glide, jump and, er, burn your way
through the game’s stages and enemies, collecting Dark Gems. The new playable
characters and their abilities add a great element to the game, mixing it up
enough to keep fans of the series from getting too bored.
presentation is very smooth, with solid visuals and clean animations. However,
the game is not a representation of the XBox’s graphical prowess, given the
simple textures and overall lack of detail.
Depending on who
you are, you will either love Spyro’s music or be completely turned off by its
cuteness. The voice acting is well done, with each of the characters having a
very distinct sense of personality.
Spyro does offer
some nice innovations over its predecessor, Enter the Dragonfly. However, most
of the new abilities and gameplay elements have been standard in platforming
games for the past few years.
Hero’s Tale is a solid adventure game with some very nice improvements over its
predecessor. However, the low difficulty level may turn off gamers looking for
a challenge. The audience to which this game is geared, namely young players,
will certainly enjoy at least a rental of Spyro’s latest quest.