Spyro 2-2: Revisiting Avalar

Last year I wrote an article gushing over my love for Spyro 2, and then began the wait for Reignited. Being lost in nostalgia as I am, I decided to save it for Christmas Day, to have a sort of 19-years-later reunion. I have to admit, I’d actually been looking forward to the remaster (reignition?) being terrible, so I could complain about it at length. As it turns out, it’s actually pretty good.

The remake basically did what I wanted, which was to upgrade the graphics but keep the game mostly the same. Of the PS1 era games, the Spyro series has aged amongst the best, so I never really felt it needed too much tweaking, and that seems to have been the attitude here as well.

To describe it as just a graphical update would be to do Spyro 2 Reignited a disservice, though. Let’s start off with the main upgrades I noticed.

The Good Stuff

The sound’s been updated. You know, ambience, picking up gems, that sort of thing. It doesn’t perhaps seem too important, but I gave the beginning of the original game another whirl, and the recordings are noticeably dated.

Instead of re-using the old voice lines, they’ve recorded a full new set, and in some cases even brought back the original actors. The acting’s all good, but I’ll have more to say about that in the second part of this article. For now, the important thing to note is that the handful of instances where the very end of lines were cut off have been fixed. This is a mixed blessing, since I sort of miss Ripto gloating that he “persuaded that fat bear Moneybags to sell me a few BOMB”.

The most obvious change is the graphics. It’s not just a case of sharpening the textures, such as with Final Fantasy XII. While retaining the essence of the originals, there have been a few alterations. For example, the castle in Summer Forest has a flatter top and different decorations on the sides, and you can see other castles and turrets over the hills.

Along with the scenery, the characters have all seen some love. Their animations have been brought up-to-date and look great. I particularly like Moneybags’s new look. I’ll always have a fondness for his original appearance, but this is one case where I have no complaints.

Speaking of Moneybags, they brought in Zinyak (of Saints Row IV) to voice him. Great choice!

One thing I always overlook when games are updated (or have sequels) is how the handling gets tweaked. I loved Soul Calibur 3, for example, but after playing the fourth, the movement definitely felt more sluggish. Spyro 2 has aged well and I don’t have any issues playing it now, but I noticed a distinct improvement in the way Spyro controls.

That’s not to say everything’s rosey, though. No, I just can’t sit here being endlessly positive. I think it’s time for my…

List of Extremely Important Issues with Spyro 2 That Can By No Means Be Ignored

- I already mentioned it above, but let’s bring it up again. They fixed Ripto gloating about Moneybags selling him a few bomb (sic). This is clearly outrageous and unnecessary.

- In Colossus, the monk outside the yeti chamber originally demanded that you kill the yeti. The subtitle said “torch”, but there was something funny about the original line ignoring that. I don’t know whether the voice actor got the line wrong back then, or if the line was changed later, but this is clearly important enough to bring up here.

- I’m not too sure about Summer Forest’s castle being changed. Look, it’s a beautiful castle. The art design is great. Top notch. But I preferred the dome. The Reignited castle has a golden hat. Let’s switch it back, and maybe pop the new castle somewhere else, since it’s still beautiful in its own right.

- On that note, there are other castles/turrets towering above the Summer Forest castle. I preferred it when the castle dominated the landscape. Now it feels oddly dwarfed. This clearly warrants a change as well.

- Speaking of highly important issues, the weird toadfrog noise crabs made when you killed them has been removed. Every time I defeat a crab, I feel a moment of confusion at that missing sound effect.

- I also miss the original muppet-like mouths. Yeah, I know, that would probably look weird with the updated engine, but the old aesthetic was cute.

There, that’s all the important issues. But actually, I do have a few more reasonable complaints.

List of Actual Concerns

- First, and most importantly, I want to address the changes to Hunter. Let’s be clear, though – Hunter’s new model has been lovingly made. However, there’s something annoying and smug about his usual expressions, and his new voice actor kind of doesn’t help there. Hunter doesn’t really come across as the endearing and silly ally who wants to play games with Spyro instead of actually doing anything useful. He seems a bit more like a bit of a jerk, looking to beat Spyro at things instead of just having a friendly rivalry.

They also changed him to be slightly more useful when Ripto steals the power crystal, which was a bit of a shame. Originally, he just tells Ripto to “give that back”, to everyone’s bemusement, whereas now he does actually try to snatch the crystal back before delivering the line. Yeah, yeah, minor quibble, but still.

- As for Ripto, they kept the original voice actor (who was also Hunter’s original voice actor), and while it’s a passable delivery, it’s not quite as good. Ripto’s a bit of an ineffectual villain, really, but he managed to get away with it by having a range of tones that didn’t quite make it into Reignited. He sounds angrier and a bit less of a showman this time, like he’s having less fun.

I’m not a particular fan of his redesign either. It’s partway there, but he’s less toad-like and closer to being a dinosaur, which might have been the original intention, but given his personality and behaviour, I think the first look suited him best.

- One of my other concerns is with the Guidebook. Elora gives you the Guidebook for your journey around Avalar, and the menu served as that, with pages turning as you flipped through the different stages to check your progress. Certainly, it was a bit slower than needed (quite a few pages turned each time), but some essence of it could have been retained. While it’s still called the Guidebook, it’s just a regular menu this time. A visually appealing menu, don’t get me wrong, but still just a menu.

- The music was kept mostly intact, and while I’m used to the originals, there are a few alterations I can appreciate. There’s a particular part of the new Autumn Plains theme that reminds me of Mass Effect, and the theme shared by Idol Springs and Fracture Hills now has a different feel in each stage, which was a nice touch.

However, the cutscene music has been executed and replaced with something else. This is probably a complaint that would only come from someone who experienced the original first, but there was a strong magical feel to the ambient themes of the cutscenes before. The Reignited themes are either changed completely, or watered-down versions of the original, but either way I don’t feel that they support the magical feel of Avalar. In particular, this damages the opening, Spyro’s conversation with Elora on entering Summer Forest, and the feeling of peace after defeating Ripto and completing the Guidebook.

- Lastly, while I think Spyro handles better in most cases, the Hover has been downgraded. If you press the button too quickly, Spyro plummets, just as in the original Spyro the Dragon. This feels inconsistent and makes some of the jumps annoying. There’s one close jump in Skelos Badlands that’s fiddly with this change, and it crops up again here and there. I don’t really see any good reason for this change – all it does is make things worse.

In Conclusion

As you’ve probably guessed from the severity of my above complaints, I don’t have anything game-breaking to moan about when it comes to Spyro 2 Reignited. Overall, it holds on to the original structure and delivers a (mostly) upgraded experience from beginning to end. Grading things is fairly pointless for me, as my opinions are not particularly technical in basis, but I guess I can give it the following "rating":

It’s good so you should play it.

There ya go.

(For anyone mad about me smack-talking Ripto, let’s have a chat about that over here…)

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