And the same goes for the gameplay. While Year of the Dragon
is definitely more evolution than revolution, it provides more than enough gameplay to satisfy all of the fans of the series, not to mention draw those few not yet addicted to the adventures of the little purple one in. If you haven't played either of the other Spyro
titles, you have no idea what you're missing, and you may as well start with the pinnacle of the series -- Year of the Dragon
As in the first two games, you start off controlling Spyro. In a wonderful departure from most games of this type, Spyro actually remembers all the moves he learned in the last game (don't you hate when Samus Aran loses all her energy tanks between games?), which means you can swim and climb ladders from the get-go. But a whole lot more gameplay has been added by the addition of some new characters, each with a unique playing style that adds variety to the game. The first 'hero' that you rescue is a kangaroo, who can do all sorts of strong kicks and high jumps. Then comes the flying penguin, the beefy yeti, and the monkey. Ook ook! Each one has their own control scheme, the details of which you can pull up at any time you're controlling a character. Most stages have a portal that lets you play as one of the new characters, but you have to rescue them first.
Along with the new characters, there are the requisite mini-games that we've come to know and love from Spyro 2. From the gratuitous and enjoyable skateboarding to the rail-shooter levels, they're all quite a blast. They're not trivially difficult, either, so be prepared to have to try some of them a few times over.
The game itself is what you've come to expect. You collect lots of gems, and some gimmick item or another -- in this iteration, it's Dragon Eggs. Each level has a certain number of eggs stashed away, and it's up to you to find them all. You often have to pay Moneybags off to open up new areas or release your new friends, so the gems are critical to completing the game. And finishing off an entire set of levels seems to be the key to... something special.
Let's just say you Gauntlet freaks will have your socks rocked off. =)
The game plays wonderfully, with each level having its own unique look and feel, and it offers more than enough game-time. After playing for the first two days, I was still less than a quarter of the way through the game, and considering how much I played... well, suffice it to say that Year of the Dragon won't just fly by. And it's got replay value to spare.