Spyro: Enter The Dragonfly
Spyro's first adventure on Playstation 2 is a quite forgettable one.
I loved the adventures of the little purple dragon on Playstation. Thanks to the talent of Insomniac Games, Spyro The Dragon games were synonymous of imaginative, colorful, platform adventures with very likeable characters. Exactly like Naughty Dog did with Crash Bandicoot, Insomniac decided not to develop a Playstation 2 instalment of the Spyro The Dragon series, and focused their efforts on the amazing Ratchet & Clank. Universal Interactive seized the opportunity, and assured themselves all publishing rights on both the multi-billionaire Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon series.
Considering the level of excellence reached by other platform games available on the system, it's definitely difficult to create a competitive game able to find its space into the crowded Playstation 2 line-up. And while the PsOne games of the Spyro series served as an example for developing games like Ratchet & Clank or Jak & Daxter, Spyro: Enter The Dragonfly, the first Playstation 2 adventure of Spyro, seems completely unable to be behind the times; and that's a pity, because we all wanted something more for the cute purple fellow.
The story is very straightforward, and clearly targeted to a younger audience. The game takes place right after the events of the last PsOne game. Ripto, Spyro's evil nemesis, is back, with a new criminal plan in his head. As you may know, a dragon's best friend is his personal dragonfly - without one of these creatures, a dragon is deprived of all his power. Using his magic wand, Ripto makes all dragonflies disappear; more precisely, they're scattered around the world. Of course, Spyro will have to find all the lost dragonflies and defeat, once again, Ripto.
The gameplay has remained the same of the old instalments, but without the freshness, the originality of the games developed by Insomniac. Three years have passed from the last PsOne game of the series and nothing has changed.
As Spyro, you have to collect gems and find all the lost dragonflies through nine levels (including a jungle, a tropical island, and a monastery). The control system is simple to master even if controlling Spyro feels not as smooth and as well tuned as controlling the characters of games like Ratchet & Clank or Sly Cooper. Spyro can jump, glide, charge and smash into enemies or objects, perform a head bash, and use his breaths attacks that can be switched with the L1 button. Spyro now has a basic fire attack, ice and electric attacks, and also a "bubble breath" useful to capture the lost and scared dragonflies.
While the game basically consists in collecting stuff, a few mini-games and the chance of piloting several nice vehicles should enliven the experience a bit. During his adventure, the little Spyro will drive a mini tank, pilot a jet, a mantaray, and even an UFO. Mini-games often require you to drive one of these vehicles and take out enemies, rescue creatures, and destroy objects. In other mini games you have to slide down icy courses, next to erupting volcanoes, in the middle of a juicy honey flow, trying to avoid and jump obstacles; but there are also speedways events where Spyro must race against Ripto's guys or collect objects within a time limit. Finally, there also are a few weirder games like the one where Spyro must rescue cows from being abducted by UFOs, or even simple music games where Spyro must play drums. Overall, playing all these little games and driving the vehicles is fun, but there is always the sensation that Enter The Dragonfly is mainly aimed at a young audience. And frankly, these little extras are far from adding depth to a title that is one of the simplest platform games on the system.
Actually, there are only two things this game has and that previous instalments hadn't: awful bugs and complete lack of optimisation. Enter The Dragonfly is cursed by awful loading times; each time Spyro enters a level, or you just load a game from your memory card, you have to wait 40 or even more seconds. The very frequent bugs are even more annoying. The game has a frustrating tendency to freeze or enter in endless loops, leaving you with the only choice of resetting the system; this happens often when Spyro tries to approach a non playable character to start a conversation - and you can do very little to avoid this, since Spyro automatically moves towards "interesting" NPCs - but also while you are performing more common actions like breaking jars or just running around a level. Finally, clipping issues and strange phenomenon like the disappearance of whole portions of the land, make even more evident that the game badly needed additional weeks of development to address these problems, unacceptable in a finished product.