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Game Over Online ~ Spyro 2: Season of Flame

GameOver Game Reviews - Spyro 2: Season of Flame (c) Universal Interactive, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Spyro 2: Season of Flame (c) Universal Interactive
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 78%
Date Published Tuesday, November 12th, 2002 at 08:49 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Spyro's follow-up to last year's Season of Ice is one where the developers have heeded the criticism given to it. Season of Flame begins without much fire because Spyro has inadvertently lost his fiery breath and instead breathes ice on his enemies. Upon returning to Dragon Realms, he finds out his fellow dragons are all without their devastating fiery breaths. It's a neat twist. The rest of the game is dedicated to righting all the wrongs and giving Spyro his much needed virility back. Viagra for dragons, apparently, hasn't been invented yet.

Season of Flame follows the same formula of Season of Ice, the first Spyro title on the Game Boy Advance. There are three hubs with three pieces of terrain to explore. Like the last title, you're still tasked to collect gems but in addition to that, you have to retrieve fireflies; who are responsible for giving dragons in Dragon Realms their chutzpah. Season of Flame features most of the moves found in other platform titles except it is employed in a dragon-centric way. Spyro, for example, can dash to bash barrels and pots up for power-ups. The more advanced moves that you can gain aren't too different from what other characters do in other platform titles.

One of the major cruxes that tripped up Season of Ice was the inability to read height or the z-axis in a 2D isometric title. That has been rectified because many of the inane jumping puzzles have been taken out. And in general, Season of Flame's level design is more lenient. You no longer have to finish an entire level 100%, although diehard fans will be encouraged to. The result is a less frustrating experience. Aids like an on-screen map are undoubtedly the consequence of what happens when developers listen to what critics (and probably some irate gamers) said about the original Spyro title.

Furthermore, Spyro continues to have many friends who will coach him through various level segments, particularly in the beginning when you are getting started. Sparx, for example, is always fluttering around Spyro. In the original game, you could use Sparx in some 3D-esque mini-games. This time around, you get to control two characters including Sheila the kangaroo and Agent 9 the lab monkey. Sheila's levels are isometric, except unlike the more mobile Spyro, she has fixed jumping distances. Agent 9's levels take place in a more bourgeois 2D side-scrolling setting.

Sadly, there's little depth in Season of Flame. Yes, you do run around and restore fire to Spyro. In fact, later on, he even gets a super electrifying attack. However, there's a question as to how much more can be done with this game. This is a more polished and by all accounts, a superior version of Season of Ice; albeit with a different story. This was the game that should have been released last year. But the continuing reliance on the 2D isometic view will hamper any progress the franchise will make later on the Game Boy Advance.

I kept thinking there has to be more to Spyro than this. This holiday season will see a lot of competent and slick Game Boy Advance action titles. Castlevania. Mega Man Zero. Yoshi's Island. What differentiates Spyro from the others besides its somewhat restrictive 2D isometric view? The answer, unfortunately, is not much.

The buddies and pals and colorful visuals easily pigeon Season of Flame into being a children's game. Spyro is big, bright and beautifully animated, although sometimes he (and some of the other protagonists) is a little too big compared to his surroundings. Coupled with the more lenient gameplay, that conjecture certainly appears to ring true. Of course, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong in that. Some people continue to pay and go see Disney animated films. The same will (and should) happen with games. Season of Flame's music, effects and story add a lot to the title and enable it to exude charm that could not otherwise be done without the Spyro franchise. In lieu of Sparx's 3D action sequences, however, there is a void that highlights the lack of visionary spark in Season of Flame; one that we managed to find in its flawed predecessor.


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