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The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon

Score: 84%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Etranges Libellules
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Spyro has come a long way from the cute little purple dragon that he was on his debut back in 1998. He's still cute and purple, but the graphics have seriously come a long way. I know I said that last year about The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night, but they have improved so much since then even. The cut scenes in The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon are absolutely gorgeous. Even when you're playing, the visuals are amazing. Everything is almost always very fluid. Every now and then, the camera will get stuck behind a wall if you move just the wrong way, but luckily it will reset itself pretty quickly. If you have problems with it being too dark, especially in the Twilight Woods, try changing your TV settings. I had trouble seeing anything until I lightened things up a little bit.

The vocals are just as wonderful as the visuals. The background music is pleasant without annoying you. When there are monsters around, it gets dark and scary so you know when you're about to be attacked. Given that the voicework for Spyro is Elijah Wood, Cynder is Christina Ricci, Sparx is Wayne Brady, and Ignitus is Gary Oldman, you know that everything sounds like you're watching a wonderful movie. Wayne Brady and Christina Ricci are new to this cast. I think that it is really funny that Sparx even says his voice keeps changing at the beginning of the game.


The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon starts out three years after the last one. Spyro and Cynder have been frozen solid for three years. Once they are released, it is back to the battle with evil. Now you might remember that Cynder was on the evil side in the last game. But since then, she has changed her ways and is now helping Spyro. It's not like she really has much choice, though. Spyro and Cynder are tethered to each other by a magical collar that they can't get rid of. This means that they cannot venture too far apart.

Actually, the fact that they can't get too far apart works to your advantage a good deal of the time. This means that you don't have to worry about whether or not the one you're not controlling is keeping up with you. You know that they can't be too far behind you. There were only one or two occasions that I had to switch to the other character to actually get them up to where I was located. Switching back and forth between the characters was a good new addition. This made it very easy to play two players also.

There are hidden chests you can look for along the way. Some of them are protected by elite enemies, however. Elite enemies are more difficult to defeat than normal enemies, but the rewards are much greater. From these hidden chests you can get armor. There are 3 sets of armor for each character. There are also hidden gems that you can find. These aren't the normal crystals that recover life, mana, and experience. These special gems are a solid oval shape. They will permanently increase the life bar and mana bar after you've collected a certain amount. They are definitely worth searching for.


Personally I think the difficulty in The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon lies in figuring out where to go next. Quite a bit of the time is spent searching for a little switch somewhere to pull. If you know exactly where to go, the game is actually pretty short.

The normal enemies aren't very hard to beat at all, especially after you have used some of your experience to upgrade Spyro and Cynder's abilities. The elite enemies are a different matter, though. I opted to skip some of them rather than deal with fighting them. Granted, I could use the armor and the experience, but dying once or twice trying was enough for me. Save points are not as common as I would have liked. Usually there wasn't one near an elite enemy, so I'd have to run back to the last one before taking the enemy on. It would have been nice to be able to save more often since you can't always set aside hours on end to play.

Game Mechanics:

Since Spyro has now become an action adventure game rather than a platformer, you're going to need to learn how to fight to play. The first thing you need to know is how to move around. The Left stick controls your movement and the Right stick controls the camera. If you're too close to a wall, you'll only be able to move the camera a small amount. It tries to keep the camera from getting stuck behind walls.

The second thing that you need to know is that you can (and will definitely need to) switch between Cynder and Spyro. To do so, simply press (LT). Switching is relatively seamless, but keep in mind that since one follows the other, you will be a little behind where you were. During fights, they stay pretty close together but if you switch in the middle of battle, you might not be ready for enemies nearby. Both Cynder and Spyro can fly. Simply press (A) a few times to get airborne, then use (A) to flap your wings. You can't always go where you want to, though. I guess the air current is used to block paths that they don't want you to fly over. You can't fly off screen.

To fight, you use the (X) button for a light attack and (Y) for a heavy attack. There are quite a number of combos you can create with these two moves. The game does a very good job of teaching you the fighting techniques in-game. They're also all listed in the instruction booklet. I highly recommend learning how to fight well.

I miss the Spyro games from years ago. The story was more important than the action. The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon has beautiful graphics and wonderful voice acting, but it feels short on the story. If you liked the previous one, then you'll probably enjoy this one too. If you're looking for a platformer though, just be aware that Spyro has changed so you won't find that here.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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