Game Review - Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly on Nintendo Gamecube

Written by Killergoose on February 19, 2015 @ 9:15 pm

Warning: This review does contain spoilers. You probably don't actually care if I spoil this game or not, but if you do, be warned. You know, cause it's a warning and all.

Imagine if you will, being a younger child and playing through the Spyro series, getting to enjoy the amazing gameplay, great level design, fantastic music, and great humor that the series had to offer. The games were truly a spectacle, and there are so many factors that went into each detail that it's amazing to learn about these details and then go back and see them in action. I recommend looking at the below links if you don't know what I mean.

http://i.imgur.com/4Xf034j.jpg - Lots of text, but this clearly illustrates just how much thought went into skyboxes alone, and how the mix of color and atmosphere could change what a level needed to convey.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Kc2gGycBXc - A youtube video on how The Police's Stewart Copeland played through each level without any music and then composed tunes that fit the stage itself.

Now going back to the analogy, image you discover in the fateful year of 2003 that a new Spyro game has been out for awhile, a new game for the Gamecube (also it had come for PS2, but imagine you only know of the Gamecube release). Excited, you spend some allowance and go home to play, happy that you'll be joining Spyro and Sparx again for another adventure.

What you failed to realize is that this is the first Spyro game NOT made by Insomniac.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is a major disaster. The game was rushed out the door without polish and with the game reduced to several levels. To quote the Spyro wiki, "It was supposed to contain 120 dragonflies to collect, over 25 levels, a framerate of 60 frames per second, and relatively fast loading times. However, Universal Interactive Studios forced the developers to rush on developing the game in order to be available by winter 2002 and therefore it suffers from an inconsistent framerate, long loading times, graphical glitches, sound issues and lock-ups. Additionally, Gnasty doesn't appear anywhere in the game at all, there are only 9 levels for the player to explore and only 90 dragonflies for the player to collect. "

Now, plenty of the problems are made apparent, but let's finally start analyzing this sucker.

Story: 1/10
Some time after your defeat of the Sorceress, Spyro and friends celebrate the Dragonfly festival, a festival where young dragons and dragonflies are assigned to one another as partners, like Spyro and Sparx. Suddenly Ripto, the main villain from Spyro 2, shows up to ruin the day, along with Crush and Gulp who suddenly have the ability to talk. Thanks to his hate for dragons, he takes away the dragonflies. It's up to Spyro to save the day yet again.

That's really about it. The Spyro games have never been all about story, but this one makes it far worse by having absolutely nothing to drive your motivations. In the first one, you were going to the worlds, collecting treasure, and freeing dragons that were imprisoned by Gnasty Gnorc, some of which by the end of the game tried going to Gnasty's World, only to be captured again, leaving you to be the one that puts him in his place. In 2, Ripto is taking over the land of Avalar, and he's one step ahead of you in each venue. In 3, the Sorceress has taken the Dragon Eggs, and you need to help the world's inhabitants so that they can help you and return the eggs.

But this one? It's just the beginning, and then the end of the game where you fight a very anticlimactic fight with Ripto, saying he'll get you back, and then the end. You did it. Yay. Crush and Gulp? Who are those guys? Dragonflies? I mean that's cool, you collected some. No you don't get a reward, what do you think this is, charity?

Gameplay: 2/10
Spyro has always had some consistent controls. X to jump, X again to glide, Triangle to Hover while gliding, Triangle after a jump to headbash, O to breath fire, Square to Charge, Directional Pad to move, and shoulder buttons to control camera. Over the course of the adventure are ways you use these controls, and sometimes they're changed in favor of power ups.

In terms of new controls, your only real new feature is the new breath abilities, Ice(an ability only really used for one or two levels in the original), Lightning, and Bubble. Ice does what it does before, freezes enemies so you can jump on them and use them as platforms. Lightning does the same damage as fire, but helps you with electric puzzles. Bubble is so you can breath it on dragonflies who are running around, and has absolutely no purpose besides it (not to mention it's slow and hard to pull off).

Spyro has gone back to his clunkiness in the first game. It was passable then due to the time and the franchise being new, but with 2 and 3 being out, this has no excuse. Spyro feels extremely stiff, and it's kind of hard to explain why. His charge feels less satisfying with the sound not being completely synced with the foot steps, breathing fire or lightning often makes the frames DROP, it's an ugly sight.

The minigames themselves are don't control well as you'd want. There's a minigame with Spyro driving a tank, which sounds ridiculous, but could've been slightly interesting. Instead, it's just as stiff as Spyro himself, and rather tedious as you must kill tons of enemies. This is just among many features that fall so flat. Even the Speedway areas feel weak, kind of just using the format from 3 without doing much else.

If you do for whatever reason want to play this game, you'll also realize quickly glitches are NOT hard to come by. The current speedrun record of this game for an any% run is UNDER FIVE MINUTES. In fact, it's a minute and a few seconds from the point you gain control of Spyro for the first time to beating the final boss. I myself discovered the glitch on my own to headbash into Ripto's Lair. I cannot stress enough how bad some of these glitches are. You'll be running along, only to somehow fall through the world for no discernible reason.

Video can be found here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGyoao13PGU

Graphics & Visuals: 2/10
Back when I was younger, I had no issues with motion sickness when I played games. As I got older, I developed a bad case of it like my mother's, and have been restricted to playing games with static cameras (see: Fighting games, Top Down RTS like Age of Empires, etc.). However, even as a child, this game made me nauseous. It was hard for me to play this, and as I forced myself to get through it, hoping something good would turn out, I was left with more disappointment.

The first and most obvious problem is the frame drop issues. Since this can happen if you so much as breath fire, this is a HUGE deal. Your main attack along with charging instantly hurts the game's visuals, and that's not a good thing. The game also runs at 30 fps, which wouldn't be so bad if it stayed that way.

The second issue is the character models. The original didn't have the best visuals, but it worked with what it had, and many remember the game because it did the best with what it could. On the other hand, for this game, the characters look creepy or weird. Spyro and Sparx look passable, but Hunter looks rather frightening, the Dragonflies are pretty bland, and the NPCs can look frightening at time (I'm looking at you, farmers). It's just so unpleasant on the eyes that it makes hurt just thinking about it.

The stages themselves aren't really much to look at either. There are some interesting stages, like Jurassic Jungle, but they are all left with the same problems: lacking a sense of proper direction. Since Spyro 1, stages do have a way from Start to Finish, but often had several branching paths that had collectibles and rewarded people for figuring things out. In this game, gems are scattered about with very little rhyme or reason and it makes collecting the gems more of an annoyance than a joy. Given how there were supposed to be 120 dragonflies to 25 levels, with this one giving us 90 to 9 including the hubworld, it's safe to say they simply had to cram as much as they could in these levels and call it a day.

Oh, and the loading screen. It's 60 fps, almost a slap to the face of the rest of the game really, and it takes forever. Even Spyro looks like he wishes he could be somewhere else. In the PS2 version, it could go on for minutes. Thankfully it's reduced in the Gamecube version, but to say it went from a snail's pace to a turtle's should not be considered a good thing.

Sound: 3/10
Oh Stewart Copeland, not even your tracks can save the day. As said before, when many details like the charge step sounds aren't synced with the feet hitting the ground, the sound becomes extremely off putting. Sound bugs plague the game in several areas, and the ninjas in the first level show this very well. There's about a three of four second sound of them saying their "Hoo-has" like any classy ninja would, but even if you kill them as they're starting the sound clip, it will continue on as they die and play along with their death sound. The sheer scope of this is baffling. To list other examples of this would take too long.

Along with Spyro's charging is him charging into something or getting hurt and yelling "ouch!" Every. Single. Time. You probably don't think this would happen much, but with the camera not quite cooperating, these two things are bound to happen for one reason or another. Spyro's voice seems to have taken a downgrade, and the fact that they felt the need to add in extra, unnecessary sounds to these actions makes it dreadful to go through. I was clearly able to figure out how things were going in the original, I don't need the extra fluff here.

The voice acting is not very great. At best, it's average, but even then there are many annoying voices, or just voices in general that don't sound right. For whatever reason, they made Moneybags (who only shows up to be a jerk once) Indian instead of a wealthy, high class oaf, which is very off putting. Other individuals like the younger dragons also sound really weird. In general, most voices don't really have much passion behind them.

The 3 points in this score are dedicated to Stewart Copeland. His music here is not quite as good as it is in Spyro the Dragon, but it still fits and while terrible sounds drowned it yet, the little I could hear was alright.

Overall: 2/10
It's sad that a jump from Playstation to PS2/Gamecube somehow looks and feels worse than its predecessors. It was clear that Universal needed more time with the game, but simply did not get it thanks to higher ups shoving it out the door. With the release of games like Sonic Boom nowadays, it surprises me that people still think it's a good idea to shit out clearly unfinished games, especially with the addition of early access, where most of the time, people will pay the money and devs will stop before fully completing their gams.

That's how this felt like. Pushed and rushed out the door for some quick cash. I tried my hardest to like it back then, but there's so many things wrong with the game that I can't begin to imagine what I could like about it. I honestly wish I could've seen what the actual product of the game was, and whether or not it would've been able to live up to its legacy.

Don't try this game out. It's bad, but it's not the enjoyable kind of bad, like Big Rigs. It's the terrible kind of bad, like Bubsy (unless you're Ulillillia), where it's hard to discern any enjoyment from anything that you're doing. A single gameplay video alone should be enough to turn you off from such a poor quality game, and if you do pick it up, you'll realize how boring it gets within the first 10 minutes of the game.

Gameplay Rating: 2
Story Rating: 1
Graphics & Visuals Rating: 2
Sound Rating: 3
Overall Rating: 2

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Game Information

Platform
Nintendo Gamecube
Developer(s)
Check Six Games, Equinoxe
Publisher(s)
Universal Interactive
Genre(s)
Adventure
NA Release Date
November 8, 2002
EUR Release Date
November 29, 2002
MVGL User Score
5.4
Composer
Stewart Copeland, Kenneth Burgomaster, Peter Neff
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