Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! – PlayStation
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: November 2, 1999
Nerd Rating: 10 out of 10
Nostalgia means different things for different people. For me, the sheer thought of the word brings forth memories of all the games I played when I was just 5 years old. Among them was this gem, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! I recall hours and hours of playing the second installment of Insomniac Games’ most influential series before Ratchet and Clank. Spyro returns to action after a year hiatus, and this time around he’s got new friends, new enemies, and few new tricks up his sleeve.
In Ripto’s Rage!, Spyro can still headbutt, spit fire, and fly. However, the ability to dodge roll was removed and the ability to “hover” (along with many, many other abilities) was added. When flying, Spyro can hover to get more height to his flight towards the end of the glide. This allows players to access areas that would be unreachable otherwise. One of the biggest changes is the Homeworlds. Instead of having to fight through six of them, battling enemies in both the homeworlds and the realms within, Spyro is able to explore peacefully with no baddies. Also, the addition of NPCs that Spyro can talk to adds quite a bit to the plot and the development of Spyro’s character. Along with NPCs, Spyro’s enemies no longer drop gems upon their demise. Instead, bad guys release orbs of light that enable power ups throughout each level. These power ups give Spyro special abilities such as extended flight time, super flame breath, and super jumps. Each power up plays a part in completing each level.
Speaking of completing each level, Spyro 2 has a whole new system to achieve 100% completion. As in Spyro the Dragon, completing the game at 100% unlocks some cool post-game cutscenes and an extra level to play through. While some of the mechanics like collecting gems remains the same, there are also some other neat challenges featured in this game. For example, in the first level of the game, Glimmer, Spyro must annihilate the lizards that have infested a mine, and halted gem production. Upon completing this action, Spyro unlocks a couple of flight power ups, and the ability to talk to several new “Gemcutters,” the kangaroo looking inhabitants of Glimmer. These gemcutters offer Spyro challenges in exchange for orbs, the games newest challenge. Each level in Spyro 2 has several orbs to collect as well as one talisman (only in the first 14 levels). Spyro must collect each talisman to progress in the game and defeat Ripto, and each orb to complete his journal.
Insomniac must have really wanted to impress players in Spyro 2, as they added many new features and a lot more structure over the first game. For example the start menu in the first installment was simple and didn’t offer players much in the way of content. However, in Ripto’s Rage!, the start menu shows players their objective, collected gems, talismans, orbs, and the levels they’ve visited. Orbs are a new sort of currency in the sense that Spyro must use them to open certain levels. With these additions comes another new mechanic: backtracking! Some levels have areas inaccessible to Spyro until he learns a new skill such as head bashing, swimming underwater, or climbing. In order to acquire these skills, players must purchase them through a new character, a greedy bear named Moneybags. These skills come in handy all throughout the game. Insomniac also made it a bit harder to kill Spyro; in the first game he couldn’t even swim! For me, these changes make the game a lot more fun, and a lot less frustrating. It’s as if a lot of pressure has been taken off of the player and the developers are saying, “Hey players, check this out!” I love it!
Along with the many additions to the gameplay of Spyro 2, there are graphical and audio updates too. Levels have more detail, shading is more prevalent, and colors are more vibrant. Even the gems that Sparx picks up for Spyro have more detail to them and look more like actual gems instead of just multicolored blocks. The voice acting is also nice, considering there is much more of it this time around. Plus, there are subtitles for each conversation with an NPC. It is also important to mention the soundtrack of Spyro 2 as well as the other two titles for the original PlayStation. That is, each soundtrack is produced by Stewart Copeland, drummer for The Police! This gives each level, homeworld, and mini-game its own quality soundtrack.
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! holds a huge piece of my heart. It’s fun, beautiful, and has incredible replay value. I could spend days on end playing this game and not get tired of it. I know because when I was a kid, my dad and I would always play this game together, leaving the console on for days (we had no memory cards). All I’m saying is that if I was forced to choose one game to play for the rest of my life, Spyro 2 would probably be that game. I implore you to try and play through this installment of the Spyro series (as well as the others!) and you will see why I have such a deep love for this lighthearted, incredibly fun series. Be careful though, you may fall in love with it!
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