REVIEW: Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy (PS4)

Written by Megan Williams

After Crash Bandicoot: The N Sane Trilogy was released and proved a huge success, fans then wondered whether another certain Playstation mascot would also get the remaster treatment: this mascot being Spyro the Dragon.

Spyro is a platformer game series that was originally developed by Insomniac Games (whose latest release is the PS4 exclusive ‘Spiderman’ game). The first game, simply titled ‘Spyro the Dragon’ was released on the Playstation One in 1998, and spanned over 10 games that were released for Playstation, the Nintendo DS and the Gameboy Advance. The franchise has now found itself on Netflix, in the form of an animated show based on the ‘Skylanders’ spin-off games.

Like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro was another game from my childhood; I remember getting Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage when I was around 9 and I used to play that game, and Crash Bandicoot, regularly. So I was excited to see what the remastered trilogy would look and play like.

Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy is a remaster of the three original games that were on Playstation One: Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon. And, after playing through all three games, I can say that developers Toys for Bob have done a fantastic job at restoring these Playstation classics; however it is not perfect.

The visuals are gorgeous, and the cut-scenes are beautifully animated; they wouldn’t look out of place in a Pixar or Illumination Animation film. Toys for Bob have done an incredible job at restoring the trilogy visually, and Spyro has never looked better. The updated character models look great too; my personal favourites are Hunter (who’s in the 2nd and 3rd game), Spyro (of course) and Crush (who is the first boss fight in the second game).

One of the main issues I had with the original first game was the sensitive controls; it made Spyro difficult to control and some of the levels slightly more challenging than they needed to be. Thankfully, the controls for all three games have been tightened, and they are now more responsive and more precise. Spyro the Dragon is now more enjoyable because of this.

So, is Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy a perfect remaster? Well…no.

The voice acting is hit-and-miss; some of the voices work and some of them really don’t. Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) has reprised his voice role as Spyro, as well as some smaller characters throughout the three games and, once again, he’s fantastic. However, some of the voice acting for the side characters, mainly in Ripto’s Rage isn’t very good: they’re either not expressive enough or completely over-the-top when the situation does not call for it.

While most of the controls have been tightened, one aspect that has been made worse is the swimming controls during the underwater levels. What was once precise is now overly sensitive and tedious; the phrase ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ definitely applies here, unfortunately.

The game camera also isn’t your friend here; this was another huge issue I had with all three original games and, unfortunately, the issues continue here. It still gets stuck at corners and, during boss fights, will dive underneath Spyro’s feet, making the fights unnecessarily difficult. Another aspect that makes some of the boss fights unnecessarily difficult is the speed of the characters that you have to fights in these levels: they’re too fast. Specifically, Gulp and Spike’s laser projectiles in ‘Ripto’s Rage’ and ‘Year of the Dragon’, as well as Buzz’s rolling attacks in ‘Year of the Dragon’. These are too fast, while Spyro is not fast enough to always dodge them. However, these levels aren’t impossible; they’ve just been made to be needlessly difficult.

While I am glad to see Spyro return, and I’ve enjoyed revisiting these classic games, this isn’t a perfect remaster. There are some aspects that need fixing and hopefully ‘Toys for Bob’ will listen to any feedback it gets regarding the game and act on it.

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Reigns (Steam)

Release Year: 2016
Developer: Nerial
Publisher: Developer Digital
Platforms: PC, iOS, Android, Switch (2018)

Written by Tom Sheffield

In a world where online dating is as easy and effortless as swiping left or right on your phone, Nerial decided to create a game using a similar premise, but instead of finding your next partner, your swipes determine the fate of your kingdom…

Admittedly, Reigns only found its way into my ever growing Steam library through a Humble Bundle at some point over the last couple of years. It was always one of those games that I knew I’d probably never get round to playing and it would just sit in my library gathering dust, but after seeing a screenshot of it on Twitter at the end of last year I decided to give it a whirl. Much to my surprise, I was completely sucked into this game and its story, which I controlled by simply swiping cards left or right.

I knew the mechanics of the game before I installed it and figured it would be something that might entertain me for 5 minutes tops. Never did I imagine I would sit there for a good couple of hours trying to maintain order in an ungrateful kingdom and witness my royal self continuously perish or lose control of the throne.

The concept of the game is as simple as its mechanics. You are the new ruler of a medieval kingdom and are constantly pestered by your (sometimes) loyal subjects. You’re presented with a situation and there are just two options available for you to choose from. Each action has repercussions that effect the church, the people, the military, and the kingdom’s wealth – which are represented above the cards.

The aim of each reign is to keep all of these metrics balanced. If any of the four pillars of society gets too high or falls too low, your reign will come to an end. How it ends depends on which pillar caused your demise – so for example if the people turn against you, they’ll likely overthrow you and kill you in some barbaric fashion. But don’t fret, every time you meet your demise you then assume the role of your heir and continue to reign over the kingdom.

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Whilst on paper it does sound like this game would get boring within minutes, its charm and likeability lies within its writing. Some of the situations you find being presented to you are quite often bizarre, and the humour in the game beautifully matches it. One example of bizarreness I recently encountered was someone telling me they’d discovered an elephant in the kingdom and asked if I wanted to see it or not… My curiosity got the better of me and I said yes. Next thing I know I’m being told that this person strolls into my throne room with a Dragon in tow and consequently my castle is now on fire.

Not all of the situations are silly, some are quite serious and leave you really having to think about the decision you should make. I’ll hold my hands up and say I pondered on some of the scenarios for longer than I probably should have (I don’t know why because my reign never lasts long!) but that’s the beauty of this game. It sucks you into the narrative and makes you want the best for your kingdom… although sometimes it is fun to just constantly swipe in one direction and see how many years your reign lasts!

The art of this game also accompanies it’s simplistic mechanics and concept in that it’s very minimal, but fun. As you can see in the GIF above, the cards feature the characters to come face to face with, from Priests to Knights, Jesters to Queens, and even Dragons and Skeletons! As a big fan of minimal art this game’s design is right up my street, and was one of the factors that spurred me into giving it a try.

This game is definitely more suited for mobile play due to its Tinder-like mechanics. Swiping with your mouse definitely feels like more effort than the game requires and because it’s card-based it’s perfect for a mobile phone screen. Using a mouse definitely doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of the game – the writing makes sure of that! But if you were looking to buy this game then I would absolutely recommend buying it for your phone. Reigns is also making its Switch debut sometime soon, and I imagine that will also be a good choice of platform to play it on if you have yet to purchase it.

With a Game of Thrones version of the game releasing in October, now is the perfect time to revisit Reigns or Reigns: Her Majesty. 

Tom’s Verdict:

4

Dragon Ball Legends (Mobile)

Written by Jack Holden-Rhodes

Calling all Dragon Ball fans!

Have you heard?!

There’s a new game in town, and its not for console or PC, WHAAATT?

Yeah, that’s right, there is a little game called Dragon Ball Legends available on mobile and it has been the reason I’ve neglected my console!

So just over a month ago, Dragon Ball Legends became available to download all over the world to your mobile. This simple game which you could play one handed whilst you practiced your father-son Kamehameha has taken over my life. With the introduction of a new character and a new story, this has been the game I’ve been grinding away at for the last 40 days.

I won’t dive into the story too much, but it’s a nice touch. A fresh visit to the Dragon Ball universe – Collecting other characters to play as, the main character of the story is a brand spanking new character called “Shallot”. The gameplay is simple yet effective, having “art cards” to use as attacks, you have to battle your way through villains from just about every single story from Dragon Ball history, and there’s more to follow! Each time you complete a story, you have the option to go back and further complete it to collect rare medals to use in store. They can be used for things like extra zeni, or souls to boost your characters strength – Characters are currently maxed out at level 1000 with 3 different stages of boosts – level 1-300, 300-600 and 600-1000.

Micro-tractions are present in the game, but in no way are you forced to use them. You have an energy limit of 10, which replenishes quickly throughout the day. There is the option to use your Chrono Crystals to gain all 10 energy faster, however, these are much preferred to be used towards your summons.

What’s “summons” you say? Well if you’ve played Dragon Ball Dokkan Battle, you’ll understand how it works.  You can collect Chrono crystal and use them to summon new characters to play as, but unlike Dokkan Battle, when you summon the same character more than once, they stack so that your character becomes more powerful! You can collect the crystals through playing the main story, playing through the events that are updated every 10 – 20 days or (you guessed it) you can purchase them on the online store (WHICH I HAVE DONE MYSELF BECAUSE I NEED THAT DAMN SPARKING TRUNKS!) –

There are 3 different types of character you can summon, you have the Hero, the basic most common characters to summon. Extreme characters, which are a little rarer, more powerful characters. Then you have the Sparking characters, which have a smaller drop rate compared to the others. Again, sparking characters are more powerful and have sometimes have awesome ultimate attacks which are extra to the ones you already get. The characters have different element types too. You have Red, Green, Yellow, Purple and Blue. Each have their weaknesses against the elements. Red beats Yellow, Yellow beats Purple, Purple beats Green, Green beats Blue and Blue beats Red.

Unlike Dokkan Battle, you have a PVP mode. Choose your 6 strongest fighters and have them duke it out online against opponents all over the world! You can only choose 3 fighters to fight at a time, but if you choose the correct combination of characters you’ll have the upper hand. Just like I’ve already spoken about, picking elements different to your opponents will give you that advantage. But being that they’re 6 characters and only 3 spots, it can be a guessing game to which character elements you’ll be up against!

There’s a massive amount I haven’t included in this mini review, due to spoilers, etc, but I hope from what I’ve wrote, you’ll be already downloading!

If you want to test your skills against me, my Legends I.D. is 9166769256 

Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (PS1)

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Written by Megan Williams

‘Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ is a platforming game that was released for the Playstation 1, Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows in 1997 and was developed by Argonaut Software and published by Fox Interactive. In the game you play as Croc, an anthropomorphic crocodile, who is raised by fluffy orange creatures called Gobbos. After the main villain, Baron Dante, kidnaps the Gobbos, Croc is sent on an adventure to rescue them. The game’s map layout works in the same way as ‘Crash Bandicoot 1’ where you travel across three main islands (and a secret 4th island) playing through each level, all the while collecting the Gobbos.

This was a game that I got for Christmas one year and, like ‘Crash Bandicoot 1’, a game that I played quite a lot throughout my childhood till now. Not as much as the Crash games but close enough and I loved this game. However, replaying it as an adult is very different to playing it as a child as I can now see all of its imperfections…

But, let’s start with the positives first: the visuals are colourful and vibrant, and each level layout is unique and beautiful. The levels are very simple too regardless of the length. This means that the game is not only good for beginners, but it’s also a good time-waster and one that doesn’t require too much concentration. However, my favourite aspect of the game is the soundtrack. Each melody sounds different and uses a variety of instruments, whilst being able to blend in perfectly with each level environment. Plus each track is catchy and memorable.

As an example, here’s the main menu music:

Unfortunately, the camera and controls aren’t always responsive, which can make the simplest task very frustrating. As well as this, the collecting of the Gobbos isn’t compulsory. In every level, there are six of the creatures to collect, but the player can progress to each stage without hitting this target. This overall does give the game less meaning (because they’re portrayed as a crucial part of progressing), and the fourth island at the very end is completely pointless, because you’re not collecting anything within them.

Overall, this game has a great soundtrack, beautiful visuals and a cute main character. However, when you think about it, ‘Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ doesn’t have much point to it, as the collecting of his friends isn’t required to progress through the game. Plus, the camera and controls aren’t always responsive, which can make for a frustrating, and sometimes, tedious playthrough. Despite this, I still find myself playing this over and over and it’s probably due to nostalgia, or due to the fact that it’s a good game to pass the time with.

Megan’s Rating:

3

Stormy Ascent – Crash Bandicoot DLC

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Written by Megan Williams

A month after ‘Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy’ was released on Playstation 4, developers Vicarious Visions attended San Diego Comic Con and announced the game’s first DLC: The ‘Stormy Ascent’ level for Crash Bandicoot 1.

‘Stormy Ascent’ is an advanced version of a level in the first Crash game (‘Slippery Climb’). However, the original developers, Naughty Dog, decided to take the level out of the original game due to its difficulty. They did leave the level hidden in the disc though, which meant that players were able to access it via a gaming code or software. And, now, it’s been made available without any usage of gaming software!

And….it’s F**KING difficult!

Now, is it the most difficult level in the whole game? No, that award (thanks to the tweaked controls) goes to ‘The High Road’, where I lost around 40 lives just to get the gem; I lost 20 lives and it took me an hour and a half to get a gem in ‘The Stormy Ascent’. So, not as difficult, but pretty close. I found the completely new bonus level more difficult than the main level itself.

During my first completed playthrough, I found the level a lot of fun and challenging. It mostly consisted of me going ‘Ohhh, I get it!’ as this level gives you differently timed platforming so the player can never get too familiar with the patterns that it offers. The lack of lives and checkpoints also add to the difficulty. Oddly enough, the tweaked controls work really well for this level, meaning each death (unfortunately!) can’t be blamed on anyone other than the player.

So, a fun but difficult challenge…and then we get to the time trial mode.

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I’ll be completely honest: I’ve never even gotten close to beating even the easiest time trial as it seems nearly impossible. For anyone who has beaten it, well done!

If you’ve been a long-time Crash Bandicoot player, or you just want a new challenge then I would definitely recommend this.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)

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Written by Megan Williams

The ‘Crash Bandicoot’ remaster has now been released on the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch. So, to celebrate this, I thought I’d revisit the games on the Playstation 4.

‘Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy’ is a remaster of the original ‘Crash Bandicoot’ trilogy that came out on the Playstation 1 from 1996-1998, and has been developed (from the ground up) by Vicarious Visions (who developed the Crash Gameboy Advance games).

I am a huge fan of Crash Bandicoot: This was the very first console game I ever played, and I played it constantly throughout my childhood and well into adulthood (I even have a Crash Bandicoot tattoo!). Because I’m such a huge fan, I was excited but a little nervous about the remaster and whether Vicarious Visions would be able to revive a franchise that sadly died out back in 2008.

The game sold out very quickly when it was released on the Playstation 4 at the end of June last year, with physical copies being out of stock for the next few weeks after its launch. As you could probably guess from that, the remaster is fantastic! The updated visuals look beautiful and the music tracks sound awesome against the updated settings. The intro cut scenes also look great with the new and improved graphics, with most of the original voice cast reprising their roles in each game.

As well as just updating the games, Vicarious Visions have added some extra features: two new levels (the previously-removed level Stormy Ascent and a new level Future Tense), plus the time trails from the third game now also appear in the first and second games. This makes for a new and interesting challenge, as this wasn’t originally featured in the first two games. They’ve also made Coco Bandicoot a completely playable character in all three games, which gave each level a new perspective. Although, Coco seems to control better than her crazy brother Crash.

And now for the negatives!

And, honestly, there aren’t that many: The controls have been made to be more precise. However, they do appear quite sluggish and slow, making Crash/Coco feel like a brick. For the second and third games, these type of controls work quite well and it’s a case of getting used to them if you’re used to the original controls. However, with the first game, these controls make the easiest of levels seem nearly impossible (I’ve never rage quit over the games, but this was nearly a first for me!). The last negative point I have are the loading times, which take way too long for all three games.

There are more positives than negatives to this trilogy and it’s obvious Vicarious Visions are all fans of the original games: the trilogy has fixed any issues that fans had with the original trilogy. A couple of new features have also been added, making it somewhat refreshing despite the source material being over 20 years old. Overall, you’ll enjoy ‘The N. Sane Trilogy’ whether you’re a fan of the original games or you’re going into the Crash games for the first time.

Megan’s Rating:

4