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The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon

Score: 91%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Tantalus
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer/ Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Spyro has come a long way from his days as a simple platformer. On the consoles, he has evolved into a purely action adventure game. For those of you that miss the old school platformer, you might be a lot happier with the DS version of The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon.

Graphically, it is simpler than the console versions of course, but that doesn't mean that it isn't still beautiful. The level of detail on the characters is wonderful. They have as many vibrant colors and smooth lines as the console version, but they don't look pixilated from the transition to the smaller screen. The various areas have their own unique feel to them. It was wonderful looking forward to seeing what the next area was going to look like. I never got bored of the scenery. Even while flying, there was no choppiness in the framerate.

Another thing that I was really happy about was that the voice acting and the music were the same as the console versions. The cutscenes were compromised of still shots and the voicework of Elijah Wood as Spyro, Christina Ricci as Cynder, Wayne Brady as Sparx, and Gary Oldman as Ignitus. I'll give you that they weren't quite as exciting as the console, but they were still very wonderful to watch. I was impressed with the way it all came out.


Gameplay:

The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon picks up three years after the end of the previous game, The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night. Spyro and Cynder have been frozen together since their previous battle with the dark lord. After Hunter unfreezes them, Spyro and Cynder learn that it is up to these former foes to work together to save the world.

In this version, you don't have to deal with Spyro and Cynder being bound together since only one of them is on the screen at a time. This also makes it much easier to handle the enemies on the smaller screen. Some of the levels are side scrollers where you work from one end to the other, going left to right. To get through, you'll have to learn how to jump very well. Most of getting where you need to go requires figuring out how to jump there. You can only fly on certain levels.

The levels that you can fly on are 3D-ish. You don't have to worry about flapping your wings or anything to keep you in the air. You simply fly side to side avoiding anything in your path. You will need to worry about enemies, though. When you're playing as Spyro, you can shoot them with fire balls. If you hold the stylus down, it will shoot a stronger, charged fireball. If you're playing as Cynder, you'll need to hold down the stylus. She shoots a continual poison blast. My advice is to learn all of these skills well so that you can beat the boss at the end of the levels.


Difficulty:

It's been a long time since I've played a really good platformer on a handheld, so to be honest, I wasn't prepared for it. I've just gotten so used to the action/adventure games that my jumping and platforming skills were a little lacking. Having said this, I really enjoyed the level of difficulty in The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon. The enemies weren't too hard to beat, but if you weren't careful, you could die. Luckily your health and magic increases over time, so if you were lacking, you could just switch to the other dragon. They will increase while you're not using that dragon. The only time that you really can't do that is during a boss battle, simply because you get beat up too quickly to rely on switching if you're not careful.

Shooting while flying was difficult for me to get the hang of. Since the dragons have different ways that they shoot, I had trouble keeping up with which one I was using and whether or not I should be holding down the stylus or tapping it. When you are flying, it's just like the side scrolling levels. You go from one end to the other. You can't randomly fly around and practice shooting things to get the hang of it. I would like to have been able to explore a little more, at least. It would have made the game longer. That's my one big complaint in the game is that it is shorter than I would have liked.


Game Mechanics:

The controls in The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon are very easy to learn and use. The D-pad moves your dragon around the screen. In the case of the side scrolling platformer levels, it also allows you to look up and down. When you are flying, it will move you up, down, left, and right. As I said before, you continue in a straight line. There's no going backwards when flying.

Spyro and Cynder have a few different methods of attacking on the ground. Your normal attack is called with the (A) button. However, some enemies are resistant to different attacks. This is where your breath will come in handy. Spyro and Cynder each have 4 different elements at their disposal. To switch between these elements, you use the (R) button. Switching characters is the (L) button. The only time this might get confusing is if you decide to use the left-handed controls while flying. If you do, then you'll have to remember that switching characters will be (R) when you're flying. There is no elemental switching in the air. They only have one aerial attack. You tap the stylus on the enemies on the bottom screen to attack them. While on the ground, there are 2 different attacks. The breath attack is the (Y) button and the elemental strike is the (X) button. I recommend playing with different combinations of all the attacks to find what works best for you.

Playing the console version of The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon, I was disappointed with the direction Spyro had gone. I wasn't looking forward to playing the DS version after that. Fortunately, I was very pleasantly surprised. The DS version of Dawn of the Dragon holds much truer to the classic Spyro that we all know and love. If you miss the old Spyro, I highly recommend that you skip the console version altogether and go pick up The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon on the DS today.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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