Spyro: Season of Ice
follows in the tradition of the PlayStation series, offering a series of challenges and lots of gems to collect. The game tends a little too much towards the 'find the last gem' syndrome, however, which can be frustrating on the small screen, where you don't have much visual range, and the various challenges you have to complete are a bit repetitive. In the end, though, the game is an enjoyable romp through another world with our favourite purple dragon, and it translates surprisingly well to the handheld system.
The storyline is weak--Spyro's fairy friend has been captured, along with dozens of other fairies, frozen in ice in anticipation of some evil Rhynoc scheme. It's up to Spyro and his friends, Hunter and Bianca, to free the fairies and defeat the Rhynoc horde. Each level has a number of fairies, which can be rescued in a number of methods. There are also 'extra' levels, which give you a chance to both rescue more fairies and collect even more treasure.
The main levels of the game play out quite similarly to the original games on the PSX. Spyro can charge, jump, glide (with the requisite 'hop up' at the end), and flame. There are a number of enemies scattered throughout the levels that you'll have to finish off to both get gems and free fairies--one on each level is usually received once you defeat all of the bad guys. There are also a number of crystals just scattered around the stages, waiting to be melted. And the native denizens of each realm usually have a task or two for you. You may have to light candles or open cages to win their trust (read: get another fairy crystal). For the most part, it feels a lot like the PSX games, although the limitations of the GBA keep the challenges from being quite as expansive.
There are two types of secondary levels. Sparx's stages play like a garden Gauntlet crossed with a first-person shooter, right down to the different power-ups and the ability to strafe. They're usually quite action-packed, requiring collection of keys to open doors and other classic video-game conceits. Spyro's flight levels are rather less exciting; you fly through scaled sprites, trying to beat the level in a given amount of time, shooting down enemies, dodging obstacles, and fighting end bosses. It's mildly entertaining, but the rest of the game is more so.