Lurking in the dark and rarely visited recesses of the PlayStation Store lies the PlayStation One Classics section; a collection of some of the best-selling games from Sony’s inaugural console. Amongst titles like Crash Bandicoot, Driver and Tomb Raider, one game in this collection caught my eye in particular: Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (released in Europe as Gateway to Glimmer).
First released in 1999, this game will always have a special place in my heart. I can remember as child spending hours exploring all of the game’s numerous and varied worlds, collecting gems and completing the often frustrating mini-games. Spyro 2 had a certain charm that is rarely found in modern video games.
Set a year after the first game, Ripto’s Rage tells the story of Spyro the Dragon who, along with his dragonfly companion Sparx, decides to take a much-needed break in the world of Dragon Shores. However, Spyro is captured on his way to Dragon Shores by the Professor, Elora the faun and Hunter the cheetah, who need a dragon to stop the evil Ripto from taking over the realm of Avalar. Spyro agrees and begins a quest through all the worlds of Avalar, collecting orbs and talismans which are needed to stop Ripto’s plan.
The overarching plot is simplistic and takes a backseat for most of the game as each separate world has its own backstory and characters. Throughout the game you will be helping eskimos defeat ice wizards, rescuing bagpipe-playing satyrs which have been encased in stone and saving baby turtles from being the ingredients of a duck’s soup. The levels are varied and each one of them charming in their own way.
At its heart, Spyro is a platformer. The main aim of the game is to make your way through each world to collect that level’s talisman. However, along the way you will have to complete mini-games to collect orbs and also collect gems to pay a fat bear called Moneybags to gain new abilities and access to certain areas. The mini-games are where the game really comes into its own with obstacle courses, platforming challenges and even a game of ice hockey making appearances. Some of these challenges are extremely frustrating, especially those set by Hunter who never fails to arrogantly rub your face in it if you do not complete the challenge.
Going back to play a game I first got nearly fifteen years ago, I was worried how it would stand up to modern games and, ultimately, if it would be as good as I remember. Fortunately, I was still playing the game hours after I first started playing it. The controls are simplistic but functional, and aren’t as clunky as other games from this era. I even found myself smiling at some of the slapstick cutscenes and dialogue, testament to how this game is entertaining to adults as well as kids.
At the end of the day, this game is just fun and, in a time when games like The Last of Us and the BioShock series are becoming increasingly concerned with dark and complex storylines, it can be quite refreshing to go back to a time when video games were much more simple. Spyro 2 has stood the test of time and is just as much, possibly more, fun to play as a ‘grown up’ as it was when you were a kid.