A gamer and writer at heart who wants to combine his hobbies into one. I am 25 years old and I'm from the Netherlands. Having played many games over the years, I wanted to express my love for them, however obscure they may be!
This is actually my first time playing through Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! completely. Like the review of Spyro the Dragon, this review is based on the Reignited version. I am a firm believer that the changes between the two in terms of gameplay are too minimal for me to desire writing two separate reviews, and my reviews are mostly based on gameplay- and fun. Of course, I love how beautiful the reignited version of the game is, but the graphics are not taken into account when reviewing this game. I am unfortunately not in the mood to play through the same game twice in a row, especially because that may result in me thinking worse of the game due to being less interested.
This review will be stand-alone of course, but I will sometimes refer to the first game to strengthen my arguments on what this game does better- or worse. Regardless, this review will be made to be understandable to anyone unfamiliar with any of the games. Before I started writing this review, I made sure to complete the game 100%. The version I played is from the Reignited Trilogy on Steam.
My return to the original game was a pleasant one. I always loved the original, but seeing it in beautiful HD was an absolute joy. However, that was also the only game from the original trilogy that I had completed 100%. While I certainly have played both Spyro: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon when I was younger, I’ve never beaten either of them nor do I truly remember anything about them. You see, I’ve had this ”curse” following me in the past where I refused to play games of the same franchise back-to-back because it would often feel like I had to play them instead of wanting to play them. This resulted in me completing the original game, saying ”I’ll be back for you soon Spyro 2” and then… it never happening.
Slowly but surely, I am trying to break free from this curse. I did it last year with the original Super Mario Bros. games, then earlier this year with Bomberman and now we have our good buddy Spyro. The original trilogy being packaged into a single collection is definitely helpful, but I would also like to give credit to my Twitch because not only does it motivate me, but I have people to talk to and encourage me. Though I will not spoil my reviews in the introduction since my text desires your eyes, I had absolutely no trouble playing through multiple games back-to-back this way. So today, join me as I talk about Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! …Or Gateway to Glimmer because you can’t just say Rage in Europe. This is a family-friendly site alright?
Have you ever heard of this game called Spyro the Dragon? Yeah, turns out that game actually did very well, who would’ve thunken? While sales initially weren’t that high, it quickly picked up during the holiday season and ended up becoming one of the best-selling games in 1998, with a current estimate of about 5 million copies sold in total. Suffice to say, Insomniac Games had finally reached the fame they deserved after the commercial failure that was Disruptor, and rightfully decided to continue with the purple dragon. Development started pretty much immediately after the success of the first game, taking the negatives into account to create a whole new experience–in this case, a bigger focus on full-on completion rather than simply collecting everything for the sake of it. The game was available at E3 of 1999, and released later in the same year. Like the first game, it was very positively received and also sold very well. For your fun trivia of the day: did you know that Ratchet & Clank are both already in this game? Me neither, because that’s a lie. However, it is commonly believed that the Gear Grinder enemies have, at the very least, been a partial inspiration for the duo, due to them fighting with a wrench while they are accompanied by small robots that look like Clank.
(Thank you to Johnny BlackJock on YouTube for compiling all the Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage commercials into one video.)
After Gnasty Gnorc was taken down, Spyro felt it was time for a vacation. While he might have had to do the same all over again in an alternate timeline because the dragons just continued calling the big bad man ugly on television, he can instead take it easy now and… be isekai’d to another world that is in dire need of his help. Poor Spyro.
This is the game where we meet many characters that remain relevant throughout the entire franchise, such as the dork Hunter, the embodiment of I-need-help-but-I’ll-still-rob-you-of-your-money-first Moneybags, and Elora who, despite being a fan-favourite, appeared only in this game and very briefly in the third game. Fun fact: she doesn’t even appear in the art gallery for Spyro 2 in the Reignited Trilogy. I feel like there’s missed potential here, and we need a new game to fix this.
But having new characters and entirely new species of animals is more important than you might think at first glance. The first game only had dragons as NPCs and Rhynoc enemies, dressed up as whatever fits the stage. I didn’t really pay much attention to this in the original game as it wasn’t an issue in that particular setting, but it certainly helps here in not only giving just the game more personality, but also every individual stage due to each having unique enemies and NPCs now. If you have read my review of the first game, you may remember that one of the few real flaws I had with the game was that stages did not feel memorable and while I won’t get ahead of myself, this is definitely one way to prevent that from happening.
Having new characters and entirely new species of animals is more important than you might think at first glance.
Let’s actually take a look at the first stage, because this specific one already perfectly demonstrates what the major differences are between this game and the original. The first major change is, as indicated before, a lot of different species appearing in the stage–both NPCs and enemies. The NPCs give you optional objectives, while enemies now drop a specific collectable that allows you to activate a power-up portal later down the stage, such as infinite flight.
I want to place an emphasis on the objectives first. Instead of freeing dragons by walking up to them and becoming the anti-Medusa, every NPC now has their own troubles that they need help with. This is exactly what I personally seek in a Spyro game, because it gives each stage an identity that I can remember them by. And the best part is that several of these objectives change up the gameplay, but in a way that compliments Spyro’s original gameplay. You can play a normal round of ice hockey but instead of a stick, you just use your flame breath. This makes absolutely no sense and I’m surprised the referee allows this, but it fits in the game and Spyro still controls like you expect him to.
Ice hockey is just a silly example but I should stress again how much I love the idea of having multiple objectives in a stage that do not differ too much from Spyro’s regular gameplay. Aside from only a select few like that one stupid escort missions with a dumb alchemist who walks wherever he wants and gets killed all the time and then you have to do it all over again just to see him get killed again which leads to a massive [email protected]#$ compilation… I enjoyed most of them for sure. The ones where you get the power-ups are especially fun, since several of them feature infinite flight and basically mimic the speedway sections but in a stage, that can also be used anywhere in the stage as long as the time limit doesn’t run out.
Speaking of the speedways, that’s actually a pretty nice transition into what I wanted to talk about next. This is also shown immediately in the tutorial stage, but collectables have more purposes now other than just being marked on a checklist. The first game only required a specific few of you to be able to move on to the next world and served no other purpose until the very end, while this game splits them up nicely. Gems for example are now given to our favourite love-to-hate thief Moneybags, who unlocks specific parts of a level or sometimes an entire level in general. As much as everyone dislikes him, I genuinely do like his inclusion because I now have more of a reason to collect all the gems. You need nowhere near close to all just to unlock everything as Spyro 2 still isn’t a difficult game, but it’s an improvement. This game also introduced the Sparx radar pointing you towards gems, and that is for some people a genuinely great feature.
Collectables have more purposes now other than just being marked on a checklist.
There is one main collectable in each stage that you get just from doing what the NPC at the start of the stage asks you to do, while all other objectives give you an orb. These are yet again optional with a few truly required for the main storyline, but they also unlock the speedways. These are exactly how we remember them from the first game with infinite flight through 4*8 goals, but each of them now also has a hidden Hunter somewhere for a side-objective! I always really enjoy flying around these stages freely, so it now being encouraged so I can find an optional sidequest is definitely right up my alley.
Going back to the first stage again: to the right of Moneybags are some stairs that Spyro can’t climb yet. This is because Spyro as a whole has seen a boost in agility all across the board, with the improved flight mechanics being available right from the start. I cannot understate how much I love the ability to have a flutter jump right at the end of a glide, because it makes some tight jumps way easier but also more satisfying. As for the other abilities… that’s where our murder target number #1 Moneybags comes into play again. For whatever reason, we need to pay this scrooge to teach us the most basic abilities, such as headbashing the ground or climbing walls. And you are telling me that this fat bear is showing us how to do these moves? Yeahhhh no. It’s definitely not shown in-game, but I doubt Moneybags is just jumping into the water in his suit to show us how to swim. It would be awesome to see though, and I’d pay money to see Moneybags headbash the ground.
As stupid as the concept is, I guess I am okay with abilities being learned later–even though they are literally the most common abilities even a dragon should know about, and the person teaching them very likely can’t do the abilities himself. What I’m not okay with however, is that levels now completely reset when you exit them. The amount of stages that you need to revisit with new abilities is minimal, but guess what one of them is? Everyone’s favourite escort mission of course–and you have to do it twice unless you knew about the follow-up mission that requires the head bash which, spoilers, you most likely wouldn’t know. But even putting that aside, I feel it’s such an unnecessary implementation. There are some stages like Shady Oasis where you have to do the main mission before you are able to explore the remainder of the stage, and that easily takes 3 minutes.
What I’m not okay with, is that levels now completely reset when you exit them.
So far I’ve pretty much only covered the stages–or rather, the first stage, with the reason being that these are the most significant upgrade over the original game. Not only does the stage design remain consistently good with no real stinkers, but the variety in objectives and NPCs gives a personality to each individual stage. And at this point, I haven’t even mentioned the cutscenes that play before- and after each stage that show the inhabitants doing their own thing, like celebrating fauns accidentally killing their friend by bumping him into a lava pit. That turned dark quickly. Kind of weird that they are dancing literal centimeters away from a lava pit but hey, you do you.
But there is one element of the game that I purposely kept for last. Readers of the Spyro the Dragon review might remember that I had one more negative opinion that can be considered the worst part of the game: the bosses, or rather the pathetic excuses for them. Every HUB world had one of them waiting at the end, which remains unchanged for this game. Since there are only three HUB worlds (that are also very good by the way), that also means that the number of bosses has reduced. But you know what they say: quality over quantity.
Introducing the main villain of this game: Ripto and his goons Crush and Gulp. Ripto is generally seen as the main villain of the franchise due to appearing far more frequently than any other, and for good reason. He is evil, but in a cartoony way that fits the story of Spyro very well. Their boss battles also live up to their legacy, being arena’s now instead of a silly chase with no dangers happening. The bosses have an actual health bar now, with multiple different attacks after each dent. They still aren’t too challenging, but the battles themselves are enjoyable–although the Reignited Trilogy does bring some artificial difficulty with a locked-on camera during Gulp’s fight.
And with that, we have nicely made our way to the end of the review. But before I move on to the verdict, I feel it’s not a bad idea to mention that this game, yet again, has a great completion reward waiting at the end. As usual, I won’t spoil what this entails, but it’s in a way similar to the first game but with an additional reward that has an effect throughout the entire game that can also be carried over to a new game. Did I get you excited? I hope I did, because it is more than worth it.
While I tried my best to give Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage its independent review without comparisons towards the first game, most of the arguments I’ve made directly show how much the developers have taken critique into account. Some elements feel like a natural evolution such as Spyro’s improved mobility and the much-improved boss battles, but most of my praises go to the original ideas made to further distinguish each level from each other. Not only have they gotten more personality by having unique enemies- and NPCs for each as well as starting- and ending cutscenes, but they are more memorable due to the multiple objectives each stage has. You could be playing ice hockey in one while shooting down UFOs in the other, with all of the objectives complimenting Spyro’s standard gameplay. Collectables now also have more purpose, as gems are more commonly used to unlock parts of a level or even new abilities, though the latter also leads me to what can be considered my sole negative: stages resetting upon entrance. While this doesn’t matter in some stages, a linear path has to be followed in others which results in unnecessary padding–especially if an ability is needed that you didn’t have beforehand. All in all though, even this nitpick was not able to harm my overall enjoyment of the game.
- Levels are far more memorable due to unique cutscenes, NPCs and enemies and different objectives.
- Objectives are varied and compliment Spyro's gameplay.
- Spyro's improved mobility makes a great controllable character even better.
- Levels reset after exit which makes revisiting levels drag on longer than they should.
What a great sequel this is. Due to me being mostly familiar with the Game Boy Advance games, I was expecting the games to eventually transition to a more objective-based level design, but my expectations were blown out of the water. This is definitely a game that I would like to revisit again in the near future–probably the original version because funnily enough, I do still own it as well as the third game. As far as I’m aware, there are no randomizers or special hacks of the game but if there are, feel free to let me know and I’ll gladly consider it for a stream! But for now, I am definitely more than satisfied.
Can you guess what review will be up next? I personally have no idea. It couldn’t be Spyro: Year of the Dragon right? Naaaaaaah. Really?
What game do you consider to be one of the most progressive direct sequels out there?
One of my choices would definitely be Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. I still consider the first game to be good overall, but it did have some frustrating design choices such as forcing the player to do all of the loops with one line to capture/tame a Pokémon. That is no longer part of the sequel, which also has many other improvements such as the story itself.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II is also one that I consider to fix many of the issues the first game had. Just like Pokémon Ranger, I enjoyed the original game but it definitely had issues, of which most got fixed in the second episode. Unfortunately, we won’t see an Episode III though…
Does this genre interest you? If so, I have multiple other Platformer reviews ready for you!