Sunday, April 12, 2020

Egg Hunt - Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon - Part 3

On this Easter Sunday, I can think of no better way to celebrate than we going to hunt for eggs...

Dragon Eggs, obviously. Spyro still needs our help to have the next generation of dragon kind. What did you think I was talking about?

Replaying Year of the Dragon on stream, after playing it so many times before, I can't help but notice that the developers do a great job avoid the "Metroidvania" problem, where the protagonist is stripped of all the powers and abilities they learned in the previous game to justify having to reacquire them in the new one. I just never noticed until now because it's done in such an unobtrusive manner.

Players actually have all of the abilities from the previous games unlocked at the very start. However, they're careful about controlling the usage of these skills so that players who are new to the game don't need to play the other ones. This is especially noticeable in Midday Gardens, where before we can access Enchanted Towers, a level the requires us to spit at flying monsters to defeat them, we need to use the skill to hit the target and open the portal, making sure we know how to do it. The same is true for Spooky Swamp and the climb move that we need to use just to reach the portal for the level.

Now, that's not to say the game doesn't have Metroidvania-esque gates. Rather than lock them behind skills Spyro has, they're locked behind the new playable characters. It is impossible to 100% all of the levels in a given hub until after it's boss has been defeated (aside from the final one), because there is always one challenge that cannot be undertaken until we unlock the character from the next home world. It accomplishes the same goal without taking away from Spyro's base kit.

Of course, that's exactly why Insomniac stopped making Spyro games after this. They realized that they were running out of ideas for what to do to add new content to future games beyond breath abilities, so they moved on to what would eventually become Ratchet and Clank.

Still, I can't help but appreciate the skill and craftsmanship that led to so many excellent games from them, when timelines were tight back in those days.

No comments: