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Spyro: Year of the Dragon is the third game in the Spyro the Dragon series. It was the last Spyro game to be released for the PlayStation, as well as the last Spyro game developed by Insomniac Games.

Setting

Sheilasaved

Spyro saves Sheila, as they converse in front of Sheila's Alp

Spyro is assisted by many characters during the course of Year of the Dragon. Sparx functions as the player's health meter and assists the player in gathering gems; Sparx is a playable character in certain levels. Also aiding Spyro is Hunter, who teaches the player game mechanics and is a playable character at special racing levels. Four other playable characters are freed from Moneybags during the game; these include Sheila the Kangaroo, Sgt. James Byrd the Penguin, Bentley the Yeti, and Agent 9 the Monkey. The primary antagonist of the game is the Sorceress, a tyrant who rules over the Forgotten Realms with her forces. Aiding her is the apprentice Bianca, who attempts to hinder Spyro on his mission.

There are four Homeworlds in "The Forgotten Realms," all named after times in the day:

  • Sunrise Spring: The starting Homeworld, this world is set during the morning with lush green hillsides, small woods and lakes.
  • Midday Gardens: The second Homeworld, Midday Garden, is set during the day with a blue sky overlooking wide gardens and large towering castles.
  • Evening Lake: The third Homeworld, Evening Lake, is set during the evening inside a large lake containing parts of a submerged Tudor-style castle.
  • Midnight Mountain: The final Homeworld, Midnight Mountain, is set at night on top of a high mountain.

Each Homeworld contains:

  • Four Normal Realms
  • One Rebel Realm
  • One Speedway
  • One Sparx Realm

Characters

Playable Characters

Non-Playable Characters

Story

The game opens with a celebration in the Dragon Realms, where they are celebrating the Year of the Dragon, an event every twelve years where new Dragon Eggs are brought to the realm. During the celebration, however, a cloaked anthropomorphic rabbit girl, Bianca, invades the Realms with an army of Rhynocs and steals all of the Dragon eggs. As Bianca steals the last egg, she accidentally woke up Hunter causing him to release a yowl of pain that woke up Spyro and the other dragons. They were unable to stop her and she escapes with the egg in tow. Spyro, along with Sparx and Hunter, are sent down a hole to find the thieves and recover the Dragon eggs.

Pursuing the thief, Spyro discovers a realm once inhabited by the Dragons, but long abandoned and forgotten, now known only as the "Forgotten Realms", ruled by a queen called "the Sorceress", and under firm control of her Rhynocs army. Of the few that question the Sorceress' rule, the first is a kangaroo named Sheila. She is held prisoner by Moneybags within a cage, but is released after you pay a "small fee" to him. Sheila kicks him in the stomach and knocks Moneybags out.

As Spyro travels through each realm, acquiring aid from local inhabitants, and bartering with Moneybags for passage to new areas and freeing Sgt Byrd and Bentley, The Sorceress abducts and imprisons Hunter after hearing that he saved Bianca back at Midday Gardens. It is later revealed that the Sorceress is seeking not the baby dragons themselves, but merely their wings to concoct a spell that can grant her immortality. Once Bianca finds this out, she feels sorry for the baby Dragons, and defects to side with Spyro, Hunter, and the others who question the Sorceress' rule.

Celebrations resume after the Sorceress' defeat, although Spyro is unable to locate Hunter. Searching throughout the realm, Spyro's friends are reluctant to say anything of Hunter's whereabouts until the young dragon ultimately locates Hunter out on a date with Bianca, and laments about another hero "falling" for love.

However, it later turns out that the Sorceress survived her previous battle with Spyro, and is found in the Super Bonus Round, waiting for Spyro on her UFO. Spyro and the Sorceress battle again, on two UFOs above a pool of unknown, but deadly liquid. Eventually, Spyro manages to shoot the Sorceress down, and she falls into the liquid below, presumably killing her. After she dies, it becomes apparent that she had the final Dragon egg, which hatches two baby dragons named Yin and Yang.

The baby dragons then return to the Dragon Realms.

Gameplay

The gameplay is somewhat similar to its two predecessors. There are four homeworlds in this 3-D platform game and in order to proceed to the next world, Spyro must defeat the boss of the world. However, to travel to these boss arenas, Spyro must make his way to the four normal realms and the one rebel realm in that particular homeworld to rescue a villager who powers the vehicles which enables access to these bosses.

These realms are free to explore and wander in all directions without any time limit. The realms are littered with enemies which attack Spyro. Spyro can defeat these enemies, and as a reward receive gems, these gems can be used later in the game. Gems also lay all over the level on the ground and inside crates. The levels are also littered with non-playable characters which inform you on the state of the realm.

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Spyro: Year of the Dragon European Coverart

To enter all of these realms you must travel via portals, some portals can not be entered unless you acquire a certain amount of dragon eggs. To enter all the rebel realms, you must pay Moneybags gems that were collected to release the rebel who is blocking the way into the realm.

As said above, to access some realms, it is necessary to collect a certain amount of eggs; these eggs can be acquired by locating them or as a reward for completing one of the minigames inside the realm. There are many different minigames, which reward you with these eggs such as sliding down a slide, skateboarding, saving a wolf, collecting bones, catching thieves, or battling bosses.

Spyro can also run into Powerup Gates which give him special abilities for a period of time (time left can be seen on a bar on the right of the screen). These abilities could be superflame, superfly, or invincibility. Like in the last two games, there are some areas where you can supercharge, this means that when you charge on a certain track, you go super fast and can break heavy crates or catch fast thieves.

Once you have defeated The Sorceress, there is an option of getting 100% (which requires collecting 149 eggs as well as all 15,000 gems). Once you have achieved this, the last portal on Midnight Mountain will open; it is called Super Bonus Round and contains the 150th egg, as well as some extra minigames and tons of treasure.

Controls

Spyro

X = jump
X mid-air = glide
Triangle = hover after glide
X, then triangle = horn smash
Square = charge
Circle = flame

Sheila

X = jump
X mid-air = double jump
X after hitting the ground = jump higher
Circle + square = kick
Triangle mid-air = stomp smash

Sgt. Byrd

X = fly
Hold X = fly higher
Square = drop item
Circle = fire weapon
Hold triangle = aim

Bentley

X = jump
Square = thump
Circle = spin club
Hold triangle = Look around

Agent 9

X = jump
Square = throw bomb
Hold square = aim bomb
Circle = fire weapon
Triangle = enter sniper mode

Realms

(Sh) Sheila Levels - 5, (Sgt) Sgt. Byrd Levels - 4, (Bt) Bentley Levels - 4, (A9) Agent 9 Levels - 4, (H) Hunter Quests (Speedways Only) - 4

Storyline Videos

Gallery

Development

Development of Spyro: Year of the Dragon spanned about ten and a half months, from November 1999 to September 2000; the development team was influenced by a host of other games, including Doom and Crash Bandicoot.[1] Among the new features touted before the game's release was "Auto Challenge Tuning", which Insomniac CEO Ted Price described as "invented to even out the gameplay difficulty curve for players of different abilities".[2] The levels were made much larger than those in Spyro 2, so that more areas for minigames could be added; to prevent player confusion on where to go next, these areas were designed to load separately from the main hubs.[3] Price stated that the addition of critters was a way to make the game more enjoyable and varied, instead of just adding more moves for Spyro. The game was named "Year of the Dragon" simply because it was released during 2000, the year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac.[4]

In previews, publications such as IGN and GameSpot noted that the graphics had been improved, and that there were many new characters and locations.[5] The new minigames were previewed, and IGN pointed out that they offered enough complexity to back up the simple gameplay.[6] In an interview with GameSpot, Ted Price stated that the emphasis for the title was on the new critters, but that Spyro would not be left behind in the story.[7] Year of the Dragon also implemented crack protection, in addition to the copy protection previous games had contained. This helped prevent hackers from cracking the game until two months after release.[8]

Reception

Upon release, Year of the Dragon garnered positive critical reaction, with the game receiving an average ranking of 91% at Game Rankings, and a similar score based on fifteen reviews at MetaCritic.[9] According to Game Rankings, Year of the Dragon is the fourteenth highest rated PlayStation game of all time. The game sold more than two million units in the United States.[10]

GameSpot noted that while Year of the Dragon made no significant changes to the formula of its predecessors, the combination of new playable characters, more detailed graphics, and the variety of minigames made the game worth the buy.[11] IGN praised the game's appeal to all ages and the polished levels, as well as the successful multi-character focus.[12] Game Revolution thought that while the game's premise itself was simply a rehash of previous titles, "the story that unfolds as you actually play the game is flawlessly interwoven and quite entertaining".[13] GamePro noted that the ability of the game to automatically drop the difficulty if players get stuck was an excellent feature. Next Generation Magazine's Kevin Rice provided one of the most positive review in which he stated the top-notch level design, intuitive controls and excellent graphics made the title the best Spyro game to date, and arguably the best PlayStation game overall.

Stewart Copeland's score was generally well-received, though several critics sharply disagreed with the general consensus. Publications like PSXExtreme thought the music helped bring atmosphere to the varied worlds,[14] and Allgame enthused that "Insomniac should be commended for realizing the importance of music in games; it seems to enhance the whole experience."[15] Others, such as Joseph Parazen of Game Revolution, thought the background music sounded "identical to every other 3D, cartoony, action platformer I've ever played". Other points of praise were the voice acting and character development. Among the few complaints aside from the story included the game camera, which could be difficult to control and led to unjustified enemy attacks. Some publications warned that the game might feel too much like its predecessors, with a similar plot and objectives.[16]

Trivia

  • Each realm's portal in the homeworld is based on the structures within the level itself.
  • In cutscenes where it is day or night, before the cutscene starts, and the title is displayed, the background will be the opposite time from the time the cutscene is actually taken. An example is; in "An Evil Plot Unfolds...", the picture shows the cutscene at night, but when the cutscene starts, it's day.
  • This game was released in 2000, therefore it was indeed the Year of the Dragon in real-life at the time.
  • This is the first game in the series where you can play as more characters than just Spyro.
  • Spyro Year of the Dragon is notorious for its many glitches, with one of the most notable glitches being the swim-in-the-air glitch.
    • There is a glitch in the original NTSC release version causes a couple of the audio tracks to go unused (for example, Evening Lake uses the Sunrise Spring theme instead of its own theme). This was only partially remedied in the PAL release, and fixed completely in the Greatest Hits version.
    • In the original NTSC release version features a game-breaking glitch that can occur on any of the speedway levels. The glitch will occur if you decided to race against the flying racers and chose to give up in the middle of an unfinished race and leave the area. Upon returning to the level and completing the race, Sparx refuses to give the player the egg they deserve. There is no fix for this glitch once it has activated.
    • In the original NTSC release version of the game, the cutscene "Spike is Born" fails to play, due to a glitch.
  • There is a reference to Crash Bandicoot in Haunted Tomb. When the dog asks you a riddle, one of the answers is a bandicoot.
  • There is also a reference to Sonic the Hedgehog in Crystal Islands. When you refuse Moneybags’ offer, he’ll say that he might turn Spyro "into a blue hedgehog, or something".
  • PlayStation Store version of the game is the original NTSC release version, even in PAL regions.
  • At the start screen, if the player presses L1, R2, and square simultaneously, they will be taken to a demo of Crash Bash.
  • This is the last Spyro game to be developed by Insomniac Games. After Spyro, Insomniac went on to develop the Ratchet and Clank series.
  • The identities of 3 of the 5 elder dragons in the cutscenes were originally unknown. However, in Spyro Reignited Trilogy, the dragons were retconned to be Argus, Gavin and Bubba, alongside Astor and Lindar.

References

External links

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