With its rich environments, colourful characters and respectful license for interactivity the Spyro the Dragon franchise became a mainstay for the adventure genre on the original Playstation. Sadly the momentum the series built up on the original Playstation has fallen into a steady decline on the PS2. Seeking to resurrect the series developer Krome Studios have drifted away from the explorative and interactive gameplay that was so successful on the PSX to a more linear and action based style for The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night. This approach does not do the game any favours.
The plot follows Spyro and his dragonfly sidekick Sparx on a quest to save his homeland and Dragon brethren from an onslaught of apish creatures lead by (yep you guessed it) the almighty Ape King. It is a simple story with simple objectives, and fails to keep the gamer more than mildly interested in the progression of the narrative.
In older Spyro titles Spyro dispatched enemies by charging them with his horns or turning them into burnt toast with his flame breath. In Eternal Night Spyro can perform combo attacks which become the bread and butter of combat situations. While Spyro can still breathe fire and poke holes in bad guys with his horns these have become special abilities that require magical energy to execute. On top of this Spyro can unleash a special attack that deals massive damage once enough magical charge has been stored. And if that wasn’t enough, a ‘Matrix’ style bullet-time ability even allows Spyro to slow down time to better deal with tough foes. However this addition does not seem to sit right in a Spyro game. Too many games out there a using and abusing bullet-time for no other reason than to give it a “coolness” factor. In Eternal Night it just seems tacked on with a bit of sticky tape and has little relevance to the plot or objectives of the game. While this combat system sounds comprehensive it is a poor substitute for the loss of interactivity that made Spyro games so fun to play.
Visually Eternal Night is average. In fact, I would contend that the imagery in the older Spyros were considerably more creative and grandiose. Music is an uninspiring affair and is hardly noticeable throughout the game and the voice acting is mediocre despite some A-list names in there such as Elijah Wood playing the voice of Spyro himself. If you want an engrossing Spyro experience with some colourful characters and dig out Spyro 3: Year of Dragon from the bottom of memory lane box and return to the old school days of torching sheep, collecting gems and boxing with yetis.