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Spyro Shadow Legacy

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Developer: Amaze Entertainment
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:

Spyro Shadow Legacy takes the little purple dragon out of his action/platformer situation and puts him firmly into an RPG that is fun and uses the Nintendo DS' touch screen/stylus in a way that will make you glad you bought the system.

Spyro uses the DS' graphical capabilities pretty well. Each screen is full of detail and all of the characters can be easily matched up to their console-counterparts. When asked to find one of the characters and bring her to a specific spot, it was not hard at all to realize which of the models was the person I had to deal with since they resembled their Platformer selfs really well, though there were times when the screen seemed a bit crowded.

As far as the game's musical element is concerned, the background sounds fit each of the locations from the game. When in the Dragon Temple, the tone is subdued and has a slightly Asian influence, while when in one of the towns, the music is a bit louder and has a stronger beat to it.


Gameplay:

Spyro Shadow Legacy might, at first glance, just look like a GBA game that was ported to the DS, but with the graphics involved and its semi-regular use of the stylus, it is obvious that any attempt to put this game on a standard handheld would yield a very different, and somewhat lacking, experience.

Shadow Legacy starts off with Spyro's friends going off and away from the dragon island while our hero is forced to stay in school and start learning magic. There have been numerous Spyro games in the past that consisted of little more than just running around, gliding and charging into things. Fun as those games might have been, it is time for Spyro to learn a few more tricks.

Not only will Spyro learn some new attacks like the horn throw, but he will also have five different magic spells he will be able to use. These spells aren't really for attack or to be used in the heat of battle, but are typically used to move rocks or teleport to other areas you have visited.

Of course, Spyro's standard attacks are still there, and the platformer-based world in which Spyro has existed still seems to be present as you have to hit switches, jump, and glide your way around the world. Yes there is still a platformer element to it because there are plenty of times when you will have to jump across many different cliffs or pedestals.

So like I said above, Spyro's friends have left for the summer and Spyro is supposed to train with the elders. But not long after the ship sets sail, a massive dark energy is released and the portal to the Shadow Realm is opened. All of the dragons are sucked in and now it is up to Spyro to bring them back into the real world. But it isn't just the dragons that are in danger; Spyro soon finds out that his friends are trapped as well. Now Spyro will travel between the real world and the shadow world using ancient portals found throughout the game.

While in the Shadow Realm, Spyro's normal attacks (head-butting and fire) won't work, which is why our hero must learn new moves. As you gain experience and level up, you will be able to talk to the elders and learn new combos and magics.


Difficulty:

Spyro Shadow Legacy isn't really hard. The only time it is difficult is when the game throws way too many enemies at you at the same time. This seems a bit cheap at times. As far as figuring out what you will have to do in order to progress in the game, or how to solve puzzles, Shadow Legacy pretty much holds your hand. I was a bit insulted when the game flat out told me to light a couple of torches in order to open the door to the Dragon Cave. At first, I was just told something about how interesting the dragon's eyes looked, but then it immediately followed up that advice with "light the eyes on fire".

At first, Spyro seemed a bit daunting until I learned a couple of moves I could use in the Shadow Realm, that is. Once that happened, there weren't any problems to speak of.


Game Mechanics:

Spyro Shadow Legacy is a nice blend of the RPG and platforming genres. Shadow Legacy is very much an RPG since the main focus of the game involves an epic storyline that has you going on a long quest and learning new moves and magics as you level up. But when you consider the fact that most of the time you will be jumping over cliffs, across pits and other very platformer-like scenery, it is easy to see that this latest Spyro title hasn't forgotten its roots.

In general, the game has a pretty standard control scheme. You will use the face and shoulder buttons to execute various physical attacks. These moves range from head-butts to tail swipes, to horned attacks and fire breathing. But the most interesting aspect comes with Spyro's use of magic. When our little dragon hero has learned a new magical ability, you can tap on the drawing pad on the touch-screen and squiggle one of the patterns you've learned (like an equal sign or triangle) to use the spell. Though I would have liked these spells to be a bit more aggressive and wanted to keep my stylus out all the time, these spells were more of the utility type.

Instead of keeping one hand on the D-Pad and the other holding the pen, I held the DS firmly with both hands using the D-Pad and face buttons. These magical abilities typically involved moving some large object or other non-fighting tasks. Well, that isn't completely true. Though most of the spells you learn are to help you progress in the game, there are one or two that can be used for attacking your enemies. Unfortunately I didn't find myself using these as much as the others since, like I said earlier, I rarely had the stylus in my hands while in the heat of battle.

If you have a DS and are a fan of the Spyro series, then Shadow Legacy is a must buy, but this game isn't something to go out and purchase the system for.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Windows Shrek Super Slam Nintendo GameCube Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare

 
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