Spyro: Season of Ice (GBA)

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Retrology
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Spyro: Season of Ice (GBA)

Postby Retrology » July 1st, 2019, 6:39 pm

Before I say anything, I've unfortunately never played the PS1 trilogy of games, and these GBA games were actually my introduction to Spyro back in the day.

Anyways, I got this from Amazon the other day to revisit something from my childhood, and I also ordered Season of Flame and Attack of the Rhynocs as I played those back in the day as well. In retrospect, converting a huge 3D platformer into an isometric portable game was an ambitious feat, but Digital Eclipse managed to make it playable.

I really like that you can save at any time, collecting gems is fun, as is fighting Rhynocs and finding out what they'll look like with each new level, as they're in different costumes and you'll have to use different strategies to approach them. The Sparx shooting levels (inspired by Year of the Dragon) are a lot of fun, although I'm not a fan of enemies respawning after you die.

With that said, this game does have a lot of flaws. Switching to an isometric angle allows the game to run smoothly on the GBA, but as is with most people's criticism of this game, the angles and depth perception make it near impossible at times to judge where you can glide and where you can't. The trick is to look at what platform you're on. If it's the same color scheme as a further one, you can jump on it. But it's still brutal in levels like Hummimgbird Fort.

Second, I hate the enemy placement, as many Rhynocs are placed right next to bottomless pits, and since Spyro falls back as he's hit, you'll see a lot of cheap deaths. Third, enemies don't respawn after you die (thankfully), but restarting certain missions after doing so is annoying (lighting certain objects on fire for example). The speedway races of old are back, but they're way too hard.

Perhaps my biggest complaint is the level design. It's not terrible, but all the areas in levels look the exact same, and it's difficult to tell where you're supposed to go at many times. This game desperately needed a map and thankfully it was added in Season of Flame. Some of the missions have variety, but for the most part the game is pretty repetitive, and I hate how you have to 100% the game to fight the final boss.

Overall, I do enjoy the earlier levels of this game, and looking back on it is fascinating, if not infuriating. It's essentially a demo of what was to come on the platform, and the developers treated it that way, as they apparently listened to a lot of feedback from this game to improve the gameplay experience in the next two Spyro GBA games. The sprites look great, though, and the music, for the most part, is pleasant and catchy.

I'll get Season of Flame and AOTR soon so I'll post my thoughts on those as well. Overall this game is alright, but it has way too many flaws that hold it back. Still, the game deserves credit for offering a playable, portable version of the PS1 classics.

Buttermancan
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Re: Spyro: Season of Ice (GBA)

Postby Buttermancan » July 6th, 2019, 6:21 am

Great summary. You should add a few more things and stick this in the readers review section

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Re: Spyro: Season of Ice (GBA)

Postby VideoGameCritic » July 6th, 2019, 10:34 am

I never knew there were portable Spyro games. When I was reading your review I was afraid the game was going to be 3D, which would prove problematic on the GBA. Looks like I was right. I wonder how well Spyro would have fared in a 2D game?

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Retrology
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Re: Spyro: Season of Ice (GBA)

Postby Retrology » July 6th, 2019, 3:36 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote:I never knew there were portable Spyro games. When I was reading your review I was afraid the game was going to be 3D, which would prove problematic on the GBA. Looks like I was right. I wonder how well Spyro would have fared in a 2D game?


Just got Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs in the mail today and it's in the same style of isometric gameplay but assured it is a far, far, far better game than Season of Ice. The level design is far more intuitive, the color schemes are way better, and the gameplay is also far less tedious. Gone is the requirement for blind jumps, instead it's pretty clear where you can jump this time around.

The game itself is totally different from Season of Ice, however, as you're required to accomplish quests by traveling between twelve lands and collecting items. You also collect new moves, similar to an RPG. Early in the game but so far it's a lot of fun and is way better than Season of Ice.

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Retro STrife
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Re: Spyro: Season of Ice (GBA)

Postby Retro STrife » July 7th, 2019, 10:36 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote:I never knew there were portable Spyro games.


There’s at least 6 or so different portable Spyro games, most released during the 2000s decade. Some might be decent, but none are worth writing home about. After the successful initial trilogy, they began saturating the market with inferior Spyro games, including on GBA and then DS. (Similar to how Crash Bandicoot was killed off, which also had a bunch of portable games). With Spyro, they stretched out the series averaging at least one release per year til like 2010, when people finally stopped falling for the scam and the publishers gave up on Spyro- and then salvaged him with the Skylanders brand.

Now they bring back the series with remakes and pretend the trash games never happened.

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Re: Spyro: Season of Ice (GBA)

Postby MSR1701 » July 8th, 2019, 11:12 am

The initial portable Spyro (and Crash) GBA games were pretty good, and not what I would consider "trash" given the typical shovelware state of console-to-GBA releases.

Then again, the Crash/Spyro crossover games were pretty lame, though not the worst I have played. (Heavy Nova makes those two look GREAT...).

The GBA had a few games that tried to imitate/replicate the big consoles, and some were just junk (Simpsons Road Rage), and some were great (Stuntman).


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