Fairly recently, I played “Spyro: A Hero’s Tail”. After the steaming dung heap that was “Enter the Dragonfly”, I decided years ago to buy this game and give the “Spyro” series another chance, and it’s good to see the series took a turn for the better. The game’s not fantastic or anything, but it is fun, at least, and certainly better than “Enter the Dragonfly”. Because frankly, every game is better than “Enter the Dragonfly”. Anyway, when it comes to the story, apparently an evil dragon named Red (guess what color he is) scattered these Dark Gems (not to be confused with the Dark Crystal) all around, causing the land nearby to turn ugly and evil. So Spyro and his buddies must destroy the Dark Gems and stop Red from whatever his plot is. Because honestly, I forgot.
This game can be rather fun and improves greatly on the game that came before it. As I mentioned, “Enter the Dragonfly” was dreadful. I heard the “Spyro” series was supposed to be good, but my very first console “Spyro” game was a huge letdown. Fortunately, a lot more effort was put into this game. (To read about just how awful the previous game was, you can check out my “Enter the Dragonfly” post, just before this one. If you want. You don’t have to. But, I’ll be mildly sad if you don’t.) The character design is much better, for one thing, and the characters are no longer bouncing about like they’re made of sentient jell-o. The graphics look quite nice and clean, too. The voice acting is much better, as well. The goofiness is still there, but I expected that. (And you must admit Teena the Hyena is a funny name, though her plight saddened me.)
Now on to the game itself. This game has lots of big places to explore, which is fun. There are several large hub areas, from which you can get to various other worlds, such as the lovely Dragon Falls and the awesome Ice Citadel. There are also lots of things to collect. When you’re not breaking Dark Gems, you can collect Light Gems to power the Professor’s machines, which can do things like make Spyro invincible for a limited time or extra strong. There are also dragon eggs you can collect for extras like concept art and for playing as a few other dragon characters (that are identical to Spyro, pretty much, but slightly different looking). You also get different breath attacks as you play through the game, such as electric breath or ice. I like to zap people. Watch them convulse! Ba-ha-ha-ha-ha!!
And while most of the game is played as Spyro, you can sometimes play as other characters, too. Sparx the dragonfly has his own levels, where he flies through this long tunnel area, and you can shoot enemies, and you must survive to the end. Those are my least favorite and fill me with anti-joy because they’re hard. (The falling rocks are impossible to avoid. Impossible, I tell you, impossible!) There are also levels where you control Hunter the cheetah, who is fast and has a bow. He also thinks he’s awesome, and I guess he’s somewhat awesome. There are also two new characters, Blink the mole and Sgt. Byrd the flying penguin (he has a jetpack, kind of like Boba Fett, but less cool). Blink’s levels are underground, of course, and he must destroy Dark Gems. I don’t like Blink’s levels, either. His jumping is terrible and there are spiders and platforms and too much brown and they just make me sad. And they’re annoying. Sgt. Byrd’s levels are the best of the four extra characters, where you get to fly and shoot things and go through rings within a time limit, like some extra levels that “Enter the Dragonfly” had (the only decent parts of that game). These levels are quite fun.
I feel like I should say more about the game. But, I can’t think of anything. It’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot to do. But, it’s pretty much a typical platformer. I did have a silly glitch worth mentioning. I was taking the elevator down from the Cloudy Domain. You can see the ground below, and then it suddenly turns to this tan color. Hmm, weird. I wait and wait and wait, and finally some words tell me I’ve arrived at my destination, but the area has turned black. I can see something green in the distance. I think, perhaps if I jump into the blackness and head for the green thing, the area will get with it and load itself. I jump…and I fall into a light blue screen. Crap. I pause and press quit. The screen goes black and the music keeps playing. Finally, I reset the Cube and get back into my file, ending up back in Cloudy Domain. I found a different way out of there. That’s one of the reasons I hate elevators. And because they are vertically moving deathtraps.
Now I have one more issue to address. Maybe it’s just me, but this game seems to have some suspicious similarities to “Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy”, which came out two or three or four years earlier than “A Hero’s Tail”. I know it’s perfectly possible for two video games to have similar things without it being copying. Like in both games, in the swamp level, you must watch out for these wooden stakes in some places that come out of the ground to stab at your characters. And in both games, there are these pairs of platforms where you stand on one, and the other rotates around it. You wait for it to rotate where you want, and then jump to the next, and the platform you were just on rotates. Not only that, but the main villains, Gol from “Jak and Daxter” and Red from this game, share similarities, as well. Both were originally good (or at least, not evil), but turned bad. Both were known by some of the good characters (but not the main ones). Both had similar roles, one being an Eco Sage, the other, a Dragon Elder. (At least, I think sages and elders are similar.) Both are related to something “dark”, Dark Eco or Dark Gems. But, I suppose at first glance, these similarities may be mere coincidences. Or are they?
There are certain ideas, however, that seem very strange to appear in two unrelated games. Most notably, there’s this mini game that takes place in the swamp. There’s this character in the “Spyro” game named Fredneck the Frog (I kid you not), and his food keeps getting taken by swamp animals. So in this mini game, you have a stationary, first-person view of the swamp, and you shoot at the swamp animals to keep them away from the food. This is quite similar to a mini game in the first “Jak and Daxter”. In the swamp, there’s this dude named Boggy Billy, and he lost his pet HipHog, Farthy. He leaves out food to lure Farthy back, but swamp animals keep eating it. So in this mini game (I’ll just copy and past this part), you have a stationary, first-person view of the swamp, and you shoot at the swamp animals to keep them away from the food.
Anyone else see the similarities? Certainly, you must. Coincidence? I think not. I think the creators of “A Hero’s Tail” thought they could take a few ideas from the first “Jak and Daxter”, like a child sneaking a baked good from a cookie jar. Very naughty. Perhaps the creator of “Jak and Daxter”, Naughty Dog, is not the naughty one after all. It is you, Vivendi Universal! It is you that is naughty! Change your name to Naughty Vivendi, and Naughty Dog, change your name to just Dog. I have exposed your secret, Vivendi! I have exposed it to the world! You thought you could pull a fast one on us gamers, but you can’t get anything past this duck! Think again before you try to commit a crime in front of a duck. We are known for our sleuthing skills. And being adept at proper flossing. Now if I spot any ottsels or Dark Eco in your games, I’m telling Naughty Dog. That’s right. I’ll tattle.
Despite the hideous crimes I spotted in this game and the colorful glitch, it’s a fun game and much better than “Enter the Dragonfly”. It’s fun, a bit challenging, has variety, looks nice, sounds nice. Is nice. Just know, Vivendi, I’m watching you. With my peepers. One question, though. Am I to believe Spryo’s tail is the main character of this adventure? Very odd. It had no character development whatsoever. Now Spyro’s toes, on the other hand…
A Duck’s Tale, er, Tail