To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Spyro franchise, Sierra and Estranges Libellules are teaming up to bring you The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon. This title will complete the trilogy of Spyro games that includes A New Beginning and The Eternal Night. Spyro has long been considered a kids game and while it is still being marketed to a younger audience, the franchise has definitely grown up.
The first thing I noticed was the graphical upgrade. For a cartoony style game, the backgrounds and character models looked really nice. The water rushing by in a nearby river was particularly well done. Once I stopped gazing a the backgrounds, it was time to take a look at Spyro himself. His character model has matured with the franchise and he looks a bit more like a teenager than a baby dragon. This game also marks a new power for Spyro: flight. In previous games, Spyro could only sort of hover and glide a short distance, but now he has the full power of flying at his fingertips. Joining Spyro in his adventures is Cynder, a rather goth like female dragon who was formerly an enemy in the last game. You can play as both characters by switching back and forth with a button press or bring a friend along to play in co-op mode.
Spyro isn't the only thing that has grown up in this game however. The battle system has matured greatly as well, adding in God of War and Devil May Cry type fighting elements. Despite the violence of these two games particular style, Spyro manages to pull the best elements while still remaining kid friendly. For instance, Spyro's ability to harness the elements features a Kratos-like electrical area attack that will take out multiple ememies at the same time. The spouting fountains of blood and severed limbs however, are absent. Cynder has her own set of abilities as well that make use of her darker shadow powers, using things like poison and fear. Gems can be collected throughout the levels to help power up Spyro and Cynder's various powers. Sets of armour can be found throughout the game that can be mixed and matched or use one whole set to gain bonus abilities.
Spyro also boasts a pretty hefty voice acting cast with Elijah Wood returning as the voice of Spyro, goth girl supreme Christina Ricci as Cynder, Gary Oldman as Ignitus, Wayne Brady as Sparx, Mark Hamill as the evil Dark Master and Blair Underwood as Hunter. It is expected to hit in early October on the Wii, DS, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360 with the PSP oddly absent from the lineup. The gameplay on the various systems will vary slightly as they always do, but the storyline will remain the same. The PS3 version will even take advantage of the Sixxaxis controls although this control scheme will be optional. Apparently they have learned a lesson that the creator of a certain other dragon flying game didn't.
All in all I really enjoyed what I saw of this latest Spyro title and the new battle system seems like it might cross that line from pure kids game into attracting some more open minded adult gamers who enjoy a cartoony romp. As a fan of the first Spyro game, I will certainly be interested in checking it out once it is released to see more of how the the little purple dragon has come into his own.