Spyro The Dragon: A Childhood Staple

The first few video games we play as children impact us more than we know. We grow up, moving on to bigger, better, faster games, but we always remember those first few video games that really started it all. What video game was a childhood staple for you?

The year is 1998.

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As a kid, I’m naturally excited about everything, particularly video games.

I open a box of my favorite cereal and what does it have inside? A coupon for Spyro The Dragon (that was back when cereal boxes were cool).

I beg and beg my Mom to buy it for me! Eventually she does since I think I aced a test or something in exchange.

So I play it and I’m loving every single thing about it! The cute, simple storyline, the background music, especially from the Ice Cavern level, and how easy it is to play. You can prance around, charge into things with Spyro’s horns, jump and best of all, blow fire! It was the coolest game I ever played at the time, and remained the only game in my life that I could keep going back to play over and over.

Thus I call it a childhood staple, similar to how some people will refer to a food staple, like bread, milk, eggs and butter. It was something I routinely did after a while. It piqued my interest. Even if I’d just turn on my PlayStation console, put Spyro somewhere safe in my favorite level and just listen to the background music while I cleaned my room or read a book, it was that cool to me.

Plus, I loved the name Spyro. So cool…

As the next couple of years passed, Spyro games started to change. I managed to get my hands on the only three original Spyro games for the PlayStation: Spyro The Dragon, Spyro: Ripto’s Rage!, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon. I still have them to this day. The plastic cases are ruined, but the discs still run very well!

The first game in the PlayStation trilogy, Spyro The Dragon, was all about “torching” a creature named Gnasty Gnorc, as Spyro put it in the beginning of the game. You control Spyro and you travel different worlds, solving problems in different levels within those worlds while collecting a lot of colorful gems. You would also release other dragons Spyro knows from a crystal-like entombment that Gnasty Gnorc cursed them all with. The only reason Spyro wasn’t entombed I think was because he was sleeping somewhere underground or he was too short and missed the beams that were hitting all the dragons. Also, he had a cool little dragonfly named Sparx to look out for him (and help collect the gems and serve as Spyro’s health meter)!

The second game, Spyro: Ripto’s Rage!, was completely different. Gnasty Gnorc was long gone and Spyro made some new friends: a faun named Elora, a cheetah named Hunter, The Professor and Moneybags (not sure what kinds of animals they are). Together, they help Spyro save their world, Avalar, from Ripto. The one most challenging thing about this game was the mini-games you had to beat to collect all these pretty little green orbs. If you collected all the orbs, you would unlock certain portals, kill Ripto, collect the rest of the treasure and thus beat the game. It wasn’t as good as the first game, but I still enjoyed the soundtrack!

And finally, Spyro: Year of the Dragon. Spyro has all new friends: Sheila, the kangaroo; Sergeant Byrd, the flying penguin; Bentley, the Yeti; and Agent 9, the space monkey. According to InsomniacGames.com, the object of the game was to collect 150 dragon eggs from the evil sorceress who stole them. Every time you collect one, the egg hatches and you get to see the baby dragon and their name before they disappear back to Spyro’s homeland. Still not better than the first game, but the baby dragons were so cute and the soundtrack was still awesome!

After these three games, Spyro changed. I didn’t play any of the PlayStation 2 Spyro games, so I can’t speak much on them, but Spyro began to evolve more than he had in the first three games. He started to look older, a little bigger, and more fierce. The adventures kept on coming, but they just weren’t the same compared to the original three games he starred in.

So who was behind the soundtrack? Why, it was none other than Stewart Copeland from The Police! I found a really cool video of how Stewart Copeland made the music for each level in the first Spyro game. He would go and play the levels, beat them, and then let his creative musical powers flow forth! Check the video out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Kc2gGycBXc

Fifteen years later, Spyro’s made his grand comeback with a whole gang of friends in Skylanders! For someone who started out as a small purple dragon, he’s done well for himself! He’s sitting at the peak of a kids’ game revolution and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

So what’s your childhood staple?

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I'm a wife, a mother, a video game enthusiast, a lover of video game journalism and music journalism, and overall just a big kid on the inside! Writing is my life!