Even though Spyro is a young dragon, his games have done great. We’ve seen him on several platforms, and he has certainly proved that you don’t need to be a character created by Nintendo to charm kids. With plenty of innovation and tons of colors it has managed to become a major player in the console market, and recently Spyro 2: Season of Flame was released for the Gameboy Advance. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have great expectations for this title, but even after having played it only for five minutes I knew my suspicions were incorrect.
In Spyro 2 our hero returns to the Dragon Realms, only to discover that some mysterious villains have wrecked havoc upon the elder dragons’ abilities. You see, all dragons need fireflies to produce fire, and when some naughty beings have stolen all of those, you end up with some rather “amputated” dragons. Our hero needs to recover these fireflies, or else things might go awfully bad. At the beginning of the game Spyro is only armed with an ability to freeze his enemies, but it doesn’t take too much playing until your trusted fire breathing ability is recovered. The problem is that there are a whole lot of elders who also need their fire ability, so Spyro certainly has his work cut out for him. Later in the game you will also get to use electricity, but you might be wondering what use does a dragon have to breathe fire, ice and electricity? The levels are designed so that the only way to accomplish something is done by using the correct power. For instance, the only way you can collect the fireflies is by freezing them, and later in the game you will find that the only way to clear a level of some pesky vines is done by burning them away. Spyro also has a run ability, which is often used to remove bad-guys. Secondly, Spyro can also jump and swim a bit, but more importantly he has also learned some brand-new moves. Our pal can for instance do a super head butt, he can swim, and also perform a leap-attack that will break through weak patches of ice or rock. So obviously there’s a good chance that this game will be a fun challenge.
Another cool feature in the second Gameboy Advance game Spyro appears in, is that he will now get help. His friends Sheila the Kangaroo and Agent 9 the monkey play important roles in the game. For instance, you will be controlling Agent 9 in some levels that are a lot different from the ones Spyro runs around in. You see, most of the levels look pretty much like they have done in the earlier games; a form of an isometric view. Agent 9 on the other hand will be used in more traditional looking levels where you see him from the side. In those levels Agent 9 will walk, jump and shoot a lot, so if you ever get tired of only controlling Spyro then that can be a pleasant change.
One of the reasons why my first impression of this game was so positive is the sheer amount of color and cuteness the developers have managed to put into it. The levels are vibrant and alive, filled with both harmless and harmful creatures, some to speak with, and some to fry. In some ways Spyro 2 reminded me of Golden Sun’s setting, but I dare say that this is even better. Some levels may be filled with flowers, trees and happiness, while others may have an Egyptian style to them. There are twenty levels in total, so there should be plenty to explore.
Another detail in Spyro 2 that reminded me of Golden Sun was the use of “voices”. You see, in both Golden Sun and Spyro 2 a bear would get a really dark voice-like sound, so instead of the characters actually saying something they get a small audio sample that is put on loop. This way the dialogues aren’t silent, and the “voices” included make the game even a bit funnier. The music also sounds fine, staying just so repetitive that you aren’t excessively annoyed. Sure, a wider selection would’ve been great, but I’m sure kids will like it just fine.
The gameplay is also 'just fine’. Controlling Spyro should be no problem for those who have done it before, but because of the fairly new way of camera use and movement, it could take a little while to fully learn for some. To me the camera felt annoying after a while. Spyro always stays in the center of the screen, so when there’s a lot of running to do, all around motion sickness is more likely to occur than otherwise. Besides that, controlling Spyro is fun and intuitive, making it easy to pull off the moves you need to get around. The levels can be somewhat confusing at times, but you can at least look in an atlas that tells you how much of a level you have finished.
To conclude; Spyro 2 is a fun and colorful game that is almost guaranteed to be a hit with kids. Some might find the gameplay a bit boring after a while, while some might find it to be a bit easy; the majority however should be able to have hours of fun with this title. There are many alternatives in this genre, but this is one of the stronger competitors.