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Where's Gnasty Gnorc? I'll torch him!
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About the Game
Minor Spoilers
When I was growing up, I had two favourite gaming heroes - Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Unlike Crash, where I played the games out of sequence, with Spyro I played it in release order. Even after playing nearly all the games since, it still remains my favourite. So the question is: why?
Quote First of all, it had 3D explorable worlds. “Yea, so what. Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank have explorable worlds!” you may have been wondering. Let’s put things in prospective. The year is 1999. Spyro’s main rival, Crash Bandicoot, had linear 3D levels not explorable 3D worlds. Super Mario 64 had 3D worlds, and that’s about it. We do take that for granted now, but it was one of the first fully 3D world platforming games. Spyro the Dragon did have this – and the game got it spot on as a package. Some of the worlds are quite large, so get exploring young hero!

This leads me onto one of the big reasons why I like the first Spyro so much – the mystery. As soon as you are glide into a level (the level entrances are pretty cool) you are given no direction, so you proceed through the level anyway you see fit. You are left to your own devices, with little to no guidance on what your doing next. The whole game has a mysterious atmosphere, with only little clues guiding you through your adventure. This is much different to the sequels, as every world has native characters explaining their situations or giving Spyro tasks to do for an award.
[Spyro 1]Sparx: "Look at at thooose Gnorcs Spyro! Theey arre Scarey!"
Spyro: "Don't worry Sparx, my charge move and flame breath will take care of them!"
This mysterious feel also lends itself to the soundtrack. There is a strange aspect of this soundtrack. The first four Spyro games have the same composer, Stewart Copeland. However, this has a unique feeling that others in the series don’t have, with the direction of both feel and sound changing considerably compared to this original effort.

I cannot stress enough how much I really like the soundtrack. Especially the use of brass and the way the drums add dramatic flare. The music adds so much to the atmosphere that it mirrors the general theme of the story: we follow Spyro, as he explores many worlds for the first time. With rescuing the trapped dragons and keeping an eye out for any Gnorcs, as they could be round any corner. The music really does fit the environments perfectly.

Like Crash with his crates and wumpa fruit, Spyro has a number of things to collect in his journey. Your main objective is to rescue all the dragons, that have been trapped in stone. While some dragons give Spyro hints, it's interesting to note that a lot of these dragons know Spyro personally, which usually gets Spyro a commendation for what a great job he's doing.

Some of the conversations can be humorous, especially since the voice actors are pretty well chosen. I also like the fact the dragons look slightly different depending on which dragon world you are currently exploring. Some of these dragons can be very hard to find, so it's worth checking every nook and cranny to make sure you don't miss any. It's worth hunting the dragons as they act as handy checkpoints and it's through the portals that you save the game too.

Each Dragon World has a particular theme, with each being very distinctive. The levels also avoid the trap falls of some platformers with mixing things up with the level designs. The enemies, or Gnorcs as they are known, are different for each world and some cases each land you visit. It’s that aspect which gives each world it’s own identity. While most lands involve your standard gameplay, some have an extra dangers which you must keep in mind.

For instance, in one world, creatures grow in size when the lights are out, whereas another features little guys which raise or shorten platforms. These “gimmicks” give the game a little of variety in it's gameplay, and you must quickly adapt to these since you have to work it out on your own.

Closing Thoughts
Classic Classic
Like Crash Bandicoot, Rayman, Sly Raccoon and other platformers, the first Spyro video game has a different “feel” than the games that followed it. Spyro the Dragon does things differently, but that doesn't mean it isn’t still excellent. The sequels improved upon the gameplay, number of characters playable and moves, but Spyro the dragon should not be overlooked. It's a quality platformer, one of the best in the series, best on the playstation, and one of the best ever.

My One Big Highlight
Spiderman The original Spyro the Dragon has a very mysterious atmosphere compared to the sequels. One of the best examples of this Tree Tops. One of the hardest, trickiest levels in the whole Spyro franchise. You can't complete the level in one run because of the unconventional layout. But does the game explain this to you? Nope. The satisfaction when you find all the areas proves you are a platformer master!
Elephant In the Room
elephantWhile it can prove to be quite tricky not having the hover move if your used to it from the sequels, Spyro the Dragon had one of the trickiest areas I have ever encountered in a platformer. In the level Haunted Towers, there is a section that involves supercharging and super gliding on a ramp you have already used, to a new area. It was so tricky it took me about 10 years to work it out for myself!
Marvellous Music
Minor Spoilers
Some game soundtracks have a particular feeling that others just don't have. Whether its Zelda, Ratchet and Clank, or Super Mario Galaxy, each works brilliantly within the game universe. I love the soundtrack for Spyro the Dragon, I quite liked the soundtrack for Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer and I thought the soundtrack for Spyro: Year of the Dragon is excellent.

So after much deliberation, arguing, hair pulling and crying with myself, here is the list of my Top 10 Tracks from the original Spyro Trilogy. Here goes…
Honourable Mentions
With three games worth of level music, there were always going to be some great tracks that didn’t quite make the cut. Tracks like Cliff Town from Spyro the Dragon, Gulp’s Overlook from Spyro 2 and Fireworks Factory from Spyro: Year of the Dragon, Stewart Copeland has lots to offer here!
#10 Colossus
The first track on my list comes from Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer, which is actually my least favourite game and soundtrack. But there are a few tracks I do like, and one is Colossus. Stewart Copeland went in a different direction with the soundtrack for the second game. With that weird chanting voice, along with those dramatic flar used in the original game, it is an example of both musical styles.
#9 Twilight Harbour
This level sets the tone for the upcoming battle with Gnasty Gnorc. His minions haven’t had much luck in stopping Spyro throughout his journey through the dragon lands. So Gnasty Gnorc sends his best soldiers to ambush Spyro at the harbour. It's army central, and the music reflects this well. With great use of drums, it has an eerie "this is dangerous" vibe, which you know even before you encounter any enemies.
#8 Sunny Villa
Spyro: Year of the Dragon has some great level design, and the game starts off well with Sunny Villa. A peaceful level, with only a handful of giant Gnorcs to try and stop you. The music matches the upbeatness of the Sunny Villa, which is a good start on your adventure through the forgotten worlds featured in Spyro: Year of the Dragon.
#7 Wild Flight
This is one of the craziest, hectic levels in the first game. If a feeling works for a music track, then this track just sounds plain crazy. It’s pretty clear in most of the flight levels what order you are supposed to do the tasks in, but here it’s different. Because are also flying about all over the place, this music does spur you on to finish within the time limit.
#6 Glimmer
The title track, and the only Spyro game to have a prologue level before entering the first Hub world. Gateway to Glimmer has enemies everywhere, with the habitants also asking for Spyro’s help. It’s my favourite track from Spyro 2, and I’m not entirely sure why...
#5 Midday Gardens
The music for Midday Gardens has a very smooth and relaxing atmosphere. It just makes you want to explore and see what treasures await you. While the hubs in Spyro 2 had a relaxing atomosphere, the hub worlds in Spyro 3 seem to fit the worlds better somehow. Either way, Midday Gardens is my favourite Hub music from the original trilogy.
#4 Gnasty's Loot
There will be some of you who played the original game that haven't played this level. That’s because you unlock this level when you fully complete and find everything in the first game. In Gnasty’s Loot, there are thousands of treasure to collect, thieves to chase and gates to unlock. The music gives a sense of freedom, and with free flying (the only level apart from speedways that grants you that freedom), it makes playing as Spyro in Gnasty's Loot even more fun.
#3 Molten Crater
I live in the PAL region, so this track is also used in Dino Mines, which I think it works better for that level. With very quick drawing Dinos, you will be using your charge a lot in this level! The music fits the level really well, with great use of bass, voices and percussion to heighten the danger of the level. Go get them cowboy… erm… cowdragon! (That doesn’t work really does it?)
#2 Misty Bog
If you had a little sense of de ja vu while hearing this track, your ok, don’t worry about it. That's because this is a remix of the Spyro theme. While that theme is relatively simple and quite slow, Misty Bog is the complete opposite. It really gets you in the Spyro mood, and a great example of what the original Spyro is all about. It's such a dramatic track and one that fits one of the hardest parts of the game superbly. One of my favourite tracks from the entire game without question.
#1 Dark Passage
While Misty Bog holds more nostalgia, it's Dark Passage that holds up as my favourite Spyro track. While being slower than some of the other tracks on this list, with that epic instrument and great bass, it does feel like you want to explore the Spyro world even more. This track has great atmosphere, something that the whole of the first Spyro soundtrack has in spades.

Closing Thoughts
Some of my favourite tracks of all time come from the first Spyro game, and these tracks are among my favourites from the first Spyro the Dragon. It's still one (or the?) of the best soundtracks in Spyro's history. It makes me feel a little sad that Stewart Copeland didn't keep with this style for the sequels. (There are a couple of tracks from the second Spyro that has elements)