Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly

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Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly game cover art

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly marked the fall of the purple dragon, forever staining his reputation. But the game was also an important mistake.

ConsolePlayStation 2, Nintendo Gamecube
DeveloperCheck Six Games, Equinoxe Digital Entertainment
PublisherUniversal Interactive
Genre3D Platformer
Release Year2002
Game Number4
Purchase (Nintendo Gamecube)Purchase from Amazon.
Purchase (PlayStation 2)Purchase from Amazon.

Oh boy. We’re at this point now, are we? We’ve finally arrived at the true bad sequel of the Spyro the Dragon series. We’re at Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly.

Even people who are not too familiar with this series might have heard about Enter the Dragonfly and its reputation in the video game industry. The game is well known for being the product of a horribly rushed development cycle, the same kind of reputation that Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) shares. Looking back at this game, it’s like an old relic that the artisan stopped crafting midway. And the sad part is… it wasn’t his fault that it was left in such a sorry state.

So with the release of Spyro Reignited Trilogy today, I figured I should wrap things up and talk about this legendary infamous game. Might as well. Can’t really go through the series without bringing up one of its worst games.

Previously, the series had three successful games on the original PlayStation: Spyro the DragonSpyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon. Then there were two games on the Game Boy Advance: Spyro: Season of Ice and Spyro 2: Season of Flame. Up to this point, the series was enjoying great success and will be remembered for years to come. It seemed like the series was going to put out more good games. After all, the next Spyro was going to use the new-at-the-time 6th generation gaming technology. The purple dragon’s debut on the newest home consoles was going to be a huge one!

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. All it took was a greedy publisher (thanks, Universal…) and a couple of inexperienced development teams filled with dysfunctional work relationships to sabotage the series.

The Spyro series would never be the same again—that is, until the announcement of Spyro Reignited Trilogy in 2018. And recently, I came across an ongoing documentary on the disastrous development of Enter the Dragonfly.

Good god. To think there is even more controversy that needs to be made public. Apparently, the CEO of Check Six Games at the time was a complete whackjob who attempted to murder one of his own employees.

And the part where Universal Interactive refused the Spyro series to appeal to an older demographic? That would explain why the Spyro games on the Game Boy Advance were noticeably toned down to be more kid friendly. It makes so much sense now.

If you’re interested in learning about the behind-the-scenes stuff that led to the game’s downfall, I seriously recommend checking out Mr. FO1’s documentary series and interview videos from former Check Six employees.

It’s pretty much a given that Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is one of the worst points of the series, let alone an infamous moment in gaming history. It is actually the last Spyro game to use the classic gameplay format, before the series branches out to new avenues. But how bad are we talking about here? Is it truly the worst Spyro game of all time?

*groans*

You hear that? That’s my enthusiasm plummeting.

 

Ripto’s Revenge!

So, let’s start this review with one of the worst cutscenes I’ve seen from this series yet. Or hell, one of the worst in my life.

…Allow me to sum up the audience’s general reaction.

There are so many things wrong with this cutscene. Let me count the ways:

12 Reasons Why This Cutscene Sucks Ass

  1. The character models overall somehow look less visually pleasing than their PS1 counterparts.
  2. They have very jerky animations, especially when it comes to their mouth movements. Ripto is the worst one out of the bunch.
  3. Dat Hunter yell. Like, seriously. Did he just NOW notice that there’s a giant Sorceress balloon floating?
  4. Sparx the Dragonfly talking, even though you can’t understand shit he says. And he has that high-pitched, annoying “bzzt! bzzt! bzzt!” voice. At least give him subtitles or something.
  5. Ripto and his minions appearing right the FUCK out of nowhere! And no, I’m not talking about them somehow surviving the events of Ripto’s Rage! I’m talking about the part where they show up in a millisecond to randomly crash a party without any kind of buildup or foreshadowing.
  6. The terribly long-winded dialogue, especially how Ripto just has a casual conversation with Spyro. And he just won’t stop talking, like he’s trying too hard to sound like a James Bond villain.
  7. Gulp TALKING, especially in that stereotypical dumb henchman voice. This is the same problem I had with both Crush and Gulp in Spyro 2: Season of FlameTHEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO TALK!
  8. Ripto’s evil laugh. Both the laugh itself and his mouth animations.
  9. Spyro just standing there the whole time, doing nothing while Ripto babbles on how he’s going to do nasty and EE-VILE things!
  10. There were baby dragons earlier in the cutscene. Then they just suddenly disappeared.
  11. So you introduce a potentially interesting plot point where Spyro loses his companion Sparx. But out of nowhere, they just found Sparx safe and sound nearby. Well, that was a waste of time.
  12. The whole bit about Bianca’s magic spell, which is meant to augment Spyro’s abilities, SOMEHOW SCATTERING THE DRAGON RUNES TO DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE DRAGON REALMS EVEN THOUGH WE’VE NEVER SEEN THIS HAPPEN! And how did she even KNOW all this!? That is so contrived!

[collapse]

So, yeah. This is an absolutely horrible introduction to the game, with its bad animations, bad dialogue and bad story progression. It already spells disaster.

And we’re not even at the gameplay yet. But, for the sake of clarity, let’s recap.

So for those confused on how Ripto survived the events of Ripto’s Rage!, here are some screenshots showing his fate after his epic showdown with Spyro.

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So somehow, he survived being submerged in lava. And since then, he’s been around. He’s been plotting his revenge and he appeared in Spyro 2: Season of Flame as the main antagonist, though he’s portrayed as more of a campy wannabe villain than a real threat. And of course, he survived the events of that game. And here he is, as the main antagonist of Enter the Dragonfly.

You got all that? Good, because there’s more.

So Ripto scattered all of the dragonflies to different areas in the Dragon Realms, then just fucked off even though he could’ve just taken out Spyro right there. And Ripto doesn’t really do much to stop Spyro from collecting the dragonflies either. Yeah, he does have his personal army to stop Spyro this time, but that’s about as proactive as he gets in this game.

Speaking of personal armies, we got a new group of baddies this time! The Riptocs. Uh. How… original…

Well, to be fair, at least they’re different from the Rhynocs. For whatever reason, developer Digital Eclipse decided that the Rhynocs will be the main enemies for their Game Boy Advance trilogy of Spyro games. Even Ripto commanded them a couple of times. After having three games in a row with Rhynocs, it’s refreshing to see a new breed of enemy appear.

But basically, the Riptocs are dinosaur-like creatures that are often covered in horns or spikes. That’s about it, though I’ll admit some of them look unique, which we’ll explore further into the game itself.

So, there you go. Let’s see what kind of trainwreck of a game this is.

 

Leap into the Sixth Generation

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Dragon Realms

…Well, hot damn. Look at this game. It actually doesn’t look that bad, despite the bad first impressions. I would dare say it even looks good for an early PS2/Gamecube game. So I guess you could call this my first real praise to Enter the Dragonfly.

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Aside from some strange-looking character models, the actual environments are well done. It’s so bizarre. This game started off with an awful cutscene. But as soon as you start playing, it looks much better now that you can see the levels themselves.

One small touch I like about the NPCs is that they greet Spyro when he’s passing by. Even when Enter the Dragonfly is a clearly rushed product, this one little addition is nice to see.

But yeah, like I said, some character models look… off.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Dragon Realms Spyro breathing fire animation
ROFL, what the hell is with Spyro’s face!?

I mean, I get he’s breathing fire but why does he look like a pissed off Barney the Dinos—hee hee hee… HA HA HA HA HA! Let’s get a closeup of that face!

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Dragon Realms Spyro breathing fire animation closeup

This is golden content right here.

So yeah, you can clearly see that there is some work done to the environments of Enter the Dragonfly. But unfortunately, we all know that graphics alone don’t make a good game. We’re just getting started here.

 

Blowing Bubbles at Dragonflies

…No, I’m not lying with that header. That’s literally what you do in Enter the Dragonfly. I know. It’s stupid.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Dragon Realms Sparx tutorial

Okay, so here’s what goes on my shit list. Starting from the beginning of the game, Sparx periodically interrupts the gameplay to give you a bunch of tutorials on how to play the game (and yes, he still talks in that stupid voice). And quite a few of these tutorials are unnecessary. He had to EXPLAIN to you that there are gems hidden inside baskets and vases.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Crop Circle Country Sparx tutorial
SHUT UP, SPARX!

It’s not like I played through a whole trilogy to figure this out. And even during those games, they didn’t need to explain this stuff because it’s so basic. Sparx seems to throw a tutorial at you during random points of the game, even if you’re halfway through. Hell, he explained how challenge gates work THREE TIMES, even though it’s pretty damn obvious how they work.

It’s like if Omochao in the Sonic the Hedgehog games got worse, going as far as telling you that you need to collect rings by touching them. It only wastes more time when you can easily figure this basic info out in less time by playing the damn game!

Spyro the Dragon Oswin

In the PS1 trilogy, it’s more predictable on where the game’s tutorials will be. In the original Spyro the Dragon, Spyro gets advice from the dragons he freed. In Ripto’s Rage! and Year of the Dragon, Zoe the fairy fills that role. Back then, you can easily skip their dialogue and their advice is not super obvious shit like, “Maybe you should break baskets and vases.” They just tell you how the game’s controls work and what kind of moves Spyro can do. Everything else, the games let you figure out on your own.

In Enter the Dragonfly, the game just stops for several seconds before Sparx patronizes you with his irritating voice. And sometimes, these tutorials span actual conversations between Spyro and Sparx, where Sparx berates Spyro for being a dumbass who can’t remember basic shit. This is a good example on how NOT to implement an in-game tutorial.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Monkey Monastery

So if you played past Spyro games, you know how they generally work. Spyro can breathe fire, charge enemies with his horns and glide through the air for a short time. The games are collectathons where you usually collect gems and other things like crystallized dragons, orbs, talismans and dragon eggs. In this case, the main collectibles here are gems and dragonflies.

Spyro’s own dragonfly Sparx serves as his health indicator. When Spyro takes hits from enemies, Sparx changes in color (yellow -> blue -> green) until he’s defeated. If Spyro takes a hit without Sparx protecting him, he loses a life.

So far, so good. The standard Spyro gameplay is definitely here.

But seeing how this IS Enter the Dragonfly after all, there are problems with the basic gameplay. For one thing, the controls are kinda… wonky. For the most part, they help get the job done, but Spyro feels heavy to steer at times. And whenever he needs to rotate, he doesn’t do it perfectly. He just kinda swings around while messing around with your orientation. It just doesn’t feel right.

Enter the Dragonfly introduces another kind of collectible called Runes. There are only four in the game and their purpose is to grant you new abilities. After collecting one, you just need to approach the dragon statue in the Dragon Realms home world to get your new ability.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Dragonfly Dojo bubble breath

The very first one is the Bubble Breath, easily one of the lamest powers that Spyro ever received in this series. The only purpose to have this breath is to catch dragonflies. That’s it. It doesn’t even hurt enemies.

It serves a similar purpose to the Ice Breath in Spyro 2: Season of Flame, which was a required ability to capture fireflies in that game. However, it was also useful as an attack.

So yeah, the addition of this ability just makes dragonflies more tedious to collect. It doesn’t help that most dragonflies actually flee from you and you have to catch up to them. Combined with the clunky controls, getting those annoying little bastards can be a real chore.

And what the hell is up with the names for these dragonflies?

  • Coppertop
  • Damsel (we should just call Princess Peach this name from now on)
  • Doompa (did an Oompa Loompa come up with this name?)
  • Duckweed (more like Dickweed)
  • Goose
  • Iceboy (did Tom Kazansky from Top Gun have a son or something?)
  • Jdubs (sounds like an awful rapper name or an edgy online username)
  • Jeet (… kune do?)
  • Rashomon (I know it’s a reference to the Akira Kurosawa movie, which was named after a famous Japanese city gate, but who the hell names someone Rashomon?)
  • Scuttlebutt
  • Tashistation (…what?)
  • Toons
  • Tweedle (tweedle leedle lee!)
  • Wonky (like this whole game!)

So you got normal names like Alex or Fiona, but then you have a name like fucking Tashistation. I… don’t even…

So that’s Enter the Dragonfly so far. We’re still just getting started. Oh boy, this is going to be one hell of a trip.

 

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At Least My Ears Aren’t Bleeding…

So let’s introduce another strong point to Enter the Dragonfly. The game’s soundtrack is pretty good, though it’s quite different from what you usually hear from the PS1 trilogy. This would be the final Spyro game that Stewart Copeland would compose for, before he returns for Spyro Reignited Trilogy.

Usually, Spyro games have jaunty and catchy tunes inspired by rock music. But for whatever reason, Enter the Dragonfly took a more downtempo route. There aren’t really electric guitars occasionally playing in the background, but there is certainly plenty of tribal chanting.

For example, the theme for the Dragonfly Dojo level. It’s not really a catchy tune, but it does suit an Asian-themed mountain temple level just fine.

Then there’s the dark and ominous Crop Circle Country. This tune is pretty odd, as it doesn’t really sound like something you’d hear from a Spyro game. It sounds like it’s more suited for sci-fi horror?

The peaceful foreign atmosphere of Monkey Monastery.

Or even the sinister and mysterious Thieves’ Den, inspired by Middle Eastern music. The subtle vocalizations make this one track particularly haunting.

Even though this soundtrack is quite different from the PS1 Spyro trilogy and maybe not as good, I actually like it. I would go as far as saying that this is the best part of Enter the Dragonfly. Even when we’re dealing with a glitchy, unfinished game, at least the music is great for the most part.

Really, there’s just one track in this game that I feel is badly done, which we’ll get to much later in the review.

I will say that as good as the music is, the game’s overall sound design unfortunately isn’t on par. Some of the character voiceovers sound stiff and insincere, as if they were performed on just one take. Even Tom Kenny, Spyro’s voice actor, sounded like he was reciting his lines halfheartedly. And Gregg Berger’s performance as Ripto only makes his character more over-the-top than necessary.

Sound effects were mismatched with their associated actions or simply don’t play at all. Voice clips were clearly recycled from the PS1 trilogy, probably as placeholders since some of them don’t quite match up with the NPC voices. There were even moments where the sound quality of the voices gave away that they were recorded over a microphone (too much reverb or echo in the background). Furthermore, the lip syncing of the voice clips to the character models is even worse than the whole PS1 trilogy. At least the PS1 had the excuse of being an early innovator for 3D graphics.

Overall, the sound design isn’t as awful as it could’ve been, but you could definitely tell that it needed a lot more work behind it.

 

The Vastness and the Shortness of the Dragon Realms

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Jurassic Jungle

One of the biggest issues (literally) with Enter the Dragonfly is the simple fact that the levels are far too big to work effectively as Spyro levels. And for the most part, there weren’t even designed particularly well. They’re mostly large, open areas with enemies and gems scattered in a slipshod manner. Hell, Sparx sometimes doesn’t pick up nearby gems, which makes it really easy to miss them.

There are many times a level throws you into long hallways filled with gems and enemies, and they’re not at all fun to go through. They just feel like they’re added into the levels to make them feel longer.

Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage (Gateway to Glimmer) gameplay Skelos Badlands

Part of what made the levels of the PS1 trilogy so fun was that they were short and sweet. They’re made for fast-paced action and exploration in small chunks. Any of those levels can take from 10 to 30 minutes to complete, depending on how much time you spent on side quests. And every time you collect everything in a level, it just feels so satisfying.

Unfortunately, Enter the Dragonfly doesn’t have this same kind of satisfaction. But rather, you’d feel more relieved that you can stop backtracking through a particular level because of how incredibly tedious it is. Every time you found all of the gems and dragonflies in an Enter the Dragonfly level, you’re most likely thinking, “Finally!” And that is not a good sign. You’re not really having fun.

Every level has somewhere between 600 to 900 gems, alongside 10 dragonflies each. That’s roughly twice as much to do in a single Enter the Dragonfly level compared to any of the PS1 trilogy levels. But instead of following the same level designs as those games, Enter the Dragonfly has mostly empty areas with gems and enemies scattered about. It also makes backtracking absolute hell.

I don’t know what led to the decision to make this game’s levels absurdly large. I don’t know if this was the original intention for the game from the beginning or if it was a decision hastily made to meet a release schedule. And the reason it could be the latter is because…

Enter the Dragonfly has only one home world, eight levels and one boss fight. Making the levels larger would mean less assets to create, therefore getting the game done faster.

*sighs*

You can probably see why this game has so much padding now. Because otherwise, it would probably last about 2-5 hours of total playtime. Regardless of what led to the massive levels…

Bigger ≠ Better

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly Thieves Den blue thief Foot Pad

The level I probably come closest to enjoying is Thieves Den, because of its dark and foreboding atmosphere, its interesting Arabian theme, its NPCs, its attempt to try to make the enemies different and its awesome music tracks. The blue thieves from past Spyro games are normally enemies to Spyro. But for once, it’s actually really cool to see them get on-screen interactions with Spyro. And for the whole level, you’re exploring their hideout, where they kept their stolen treasure in hallways filled with various traps. And while the enemies aren’t particularly well designed, it’s interesting to see the actual GEMS, that Spyro normally collects, being enemies. It’s like the series’ own version of the D&D Mimic.

With that said though, Thieves Den is still a level that is longer than it needed to be. It could’ve easily been a great Spyro level if it cuts down on its length and reworks some of the enemy behaviors.

 

Glitches Galore

So despite all the padding Enter the Dragonfly has, the game is so broken that you can potentially complete it in less than two minutes of playtime. You read that right. TWO! MINUTES!

If you stand next to the portal where you would usually confront the final boss Ripto, you can perform a headbash at a specific spot to glitch through the floor and allow you to enter the portal to reach the boss. And it will be just an easy one-phase battle that will bring you to the credits almost as soon as you started the game.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gate glitch

Another way to access Ripto’s Arena is to trigger the Swim in the Air glitch in Dragon Realms, which is a multi-step process. By charging through a specific gate that normally requires a special breath to unlock, you can actually glitch through the gate and explore a new section of the map.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly swim in the air glitch

Go to the entrance of Luau Island (the lone island surrounded by water). You can use the headbash move next to the water to cause Spyro to enter the swimming animation in midair, which is the harder method. Alternatively, you can just have Spyro swim through one of the nets on the level’s boundaries, which will cause him to exit the water while in the swimming animation.

Then you can return to Ripto’s portal and Spyro will just glitch through the floor.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Jurassic Jungle Tower of Scary and Ridiculous Heights minigame air walk glitch

Here’s a bizarre glitch that I triggered by accident. In the level Jurassic Jungle, there’s a minigame known as the Tower of Scary and Ridiculous Heights, where you must use Spyro’s climbing ability to navigate through an obstacle course. Trust me, this is a great concept that I wished earlier Spyro games had. Imagine if Magma Cone from Ripto’s Rage! had more ladder challenges and turned it into a tough obstacle course.

But due to the terrible hit detection and the fact that a single hit can knock Spyro off the ladder (and giving him no chance to grab back onto it due to Spyro being stunlocked into his falling animation), this is probably THE WORST MINIGAME IN THE WHOLE GAME AND PROBABLY THE WORST I EVER PLAYED IN THE SERIES! Like, holy fuck, it was THAT poorly executed. It took me a long time to complete this one challenge. And the funny thing is, I didn’t even complete it by the minigame’s own rules.

When I got attacked by spiders in the obstacle course, this somehow caused Spyro to glitch. The attack somehow threw him far away from the tower, but caused him to stand in midair. Because of that weird-as-hell glitch, I was able to reach the top of the tower by skipping most of the obstacles.

Funnily enough, this is one of the few times that the game’s glitches actually helped me. And thank god for that. That one minigame was BAD.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Luau Island

In the level Luau Island, there’s a specific dragonfly that I had trouble getting. To access this dragonfly, you would have to complete a quick target practice superflame challenge, which will raise two platforms that let you reach the dragonfly. But for some odd reason, getting this dragonfly is more difficult than it needs to be. Whenever I land on the first platform shown in the screenshot, Spyro just slips right off as if his character model is not getting the proper collision detection with that particular platform. It took me several tries, until I managed to quickly jump off the first platform and glide to the next one immediately.

Major pain in the ass, man.

There are many more crazy glitches like these, even when you’re not deliberately trying to trigger them. You’ll be passing through walls, falling through the floor, encountering broken boundaries, finding missing textures, causing NPCs to vanish, breaking your pause menu and distorting Spyro’s character model (I especially love the one where Spyro gets stuck in his headbash animation). And this is just to name a few on what kind of batshit insanity you will encounter.

Generally, Enter the Dragonfly is like an unstable train that is trying to stay on its tracks, but stutters a lot until the imminent wreck towards the end. The general performance of the game makes you think your game disc will melt, with its inconsistent frame rates and long load times. In fact, you’re going to see THIS a lot.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly Loading... Please Wait screenThey couldn’t be bothered to put in at least a CG for the loading screen.

And sometimes, you lose complete control of Spyro, as if your game controller just stops working. You know you’re going to be facing pain when that happens.

 

What Else Remains?

With all this said, I think you get the point. Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is a terribly broken game. And the more I talk about it, the more you might be thinking, “NO SHIT! IT’S A BAD GAME!” But I do think it’s interesting to know where the game succeeds and where it fails. That’s why I’m going the extra mile here.

The idea of Spyro gaining new permanent abilities isn’t new, but the idea of new breaths was teased in the PS1 trilogy. Stuff like the Ice Breath and the Lightning Breath are great ideas on paper, but poorly executed in this game—of course, we all know how lame the Bubble Breath is. Aside from just normal progression, the Ice and Lightning abilities don’t change how you play the game in a meaningful way. The Ice Breath is obsolete as it’s slower to kill an enemy with it; you’d have to charge an enemy after freezing one. And because most enemies are vulnerable to the Flame Breath and the Lightning Breath, there’s not much point in using the Ice Breath unless you need it for side quests.

In a similar fashion, the Lightning Breath doesn’t have much purpose in the game. It’s used mainly for solving “puzzles” for side quests, but is similarly effective as the Flame Breath. It’s a cool-looking attack, but that’s about it.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly gameplay Thieves Den Wizard Riptoc Wing Shield

And finally, there’s the Wing Shield. Holy shit, this ability is almost as bad as the Bubble Breath. So basically, Spyro sits in one place while defending himself with his wings. You’d think it would give Spyro protection from most enemy attacks, but nope. There is only ONE SPECIFIC USE for this ability, and that’s to defeat the Wizard Riptocs in Thieves Den. The Wizard Riptocs are immune to every attack, except for their own magic—it’s never explained or indicated why. The Wing Shield reflects their magic spells back at them. But the big problem with this ability is its imprecise aiming. You could literally stand right next to the Riptoc and your reflected magic attack will still somehow miss.

And while powerups exist in Enter the Dragonfly, it’s really easy to forget they exist in the first place. The supercharge, which is a series staple, doesn’t appear anywhere in normal level gameplay. Instead, it’s limited to the speedway sections. All you get in normal gameplay is superflame (which somehow really sucks in this game) and invincibility. Not only does superflame have poor aim, but it doesn’t feel as powerful like before. In past Spyro games, the superflame is this very satisfying exploding fireball with an explosive sound effect. But in this case, it doesn’t have nearly as much bite to it.

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Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly features several minigames, mostly vehicle segments. And while the PS1 trilogy did have these kinds of minigames (and are actually pretty fun), the minigames in Enter the Dragonfly are… okay. Not completely terrible, but just okay. Doesn’t mean they’re fun, though…

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There are also two somewhat infamous platforming challenges in the game. Because of Spyro’s imprecise controls and the camera working against you, it’s no wonder people spent a lot of time trying to beat these segments. Personally, I haven’t had much problem with them—though I adjusted to the clunky controls pretty quickly. But I can see why people hated them.

These platforming challenges are a good concept for sure, but they would definitely be more fun without the clunky controls. And if you fall off, you’d have to restart the whole course, which is a pain in the ass.

Still, I’ll admit, they have some of the coolest scenery in Enter the Dragonfly. The one for Thieves Den also happens to have one of the best (and most chill) music tracks in the series.

And lets talk about speedways. Again, they’re another staple to the series; obstacle courses that utilize Spyro’s flight ability. They’re always a lot of fun. So, how did Enter the Dragonfly fuck it up? Well…

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For some reason, they don’t have their own level portals like in previous games. Instead, they’re in the levels as challenge portals, which is really strange. Otherwise, they’re certainly speedways.

While the level designs for them are a bit too spread out and sloppy, they’re actually not too bad. If you’re used to the game’s clunky controls, then you can have plenty of fun with them. In fact, I think the speedway races are decent. They’re honestly challenging and the speed boosters can send you very far away compared to the ones in Year of the Dragon. Just another example of how an extended deadline and more time would’ve vastly improved the game.

 

The Anti-Climax

So you might be wondering where the direction of the story went, considering how it got off on the wrong foot earlier. Well, let me sum it up in two words.

What Story?

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly Ripto

So as the game’s way of reminding you that Ripto exists, a cutscene plays about halfway through. Ripto wonders where the dragonflies went, then CRUSH TOLD HIM (seriously, why does he and Gulp talk?) that the dragonflies were scattered all over the Dragon Realms. You mean they didn’t know this the whole time after literally hours of the playthrough?

Then Ripto just straight up “kills” them for no reason? I don’t know if he did this deliberately or that was just his scepter malfunctioning. Whatever it is, we don’t see Crush and Gulp again after this cutscene. Hell, they don’t even appear as bosses. Even a GBA game like Spyro 2: Season of Flame got that one right.

And Ripto is just straight up cartoonish in this game. He was far more threatening in Ripto’s Rage!, but comes across as a campy villain in this one with his goofy voice, terribly cliché dialogue, bulging eyes and stretchy mouth movements.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly 100% completion atlas

So like the absolute madman I am, I actually bothered to do 100% completion of this game. By using the glitches I mentioned earlier, I already defeated Ripto so I can gain access to Sparx’s treasure-locating ability. And stupidly, the game doesn’t tell you that you have this ability or how you could use it. You sort of just had to figure it out. That’s just swell.

And because I played the Gamecube version of the game, I had to look up what the button combination is. For the PS2 version, it’s L3 + R3. Simple and straightforward. For GC, it’s L + R + Up. What the fuck?

You need this ability to find all of the game’s gems, because trying to find them without it is a rough exercise of patience. It’s simply not worth trying in a game with such massive levels.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly Ripto

So after you find all 7,000 gems and 90 dragonflies, you can gain access to the game’s real ending. Instead of just fighting Ripto in one or two phases, you get the privilege of fighting him in three phases! Ooh~

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly Ripto boss fight phase 1

The first two phases are lame. In the first phase, all you need to do is use the Flame Breath on Ripto’s ice shield. And when it melts away, flame him one more time and he’ll enter his second phase. To shorten your work, keep charging towards him to prevent him from attacking you. But if you’re not used to this boss fight, be prepared for shit.

The camera should be automatically centering on the arena so you can see what you’re doing (just like in Ripto’s Rage!), but there is no such thing in this boss fight. Furthermore, if you failed to track down Ripto, he’ll spam a bunch of homing projectiles at you that are difficult to avoid. And if any of them hits you, Spyro enters his falling animation (which causes a delay) and he can get stunlocked. Yeah, that’s fair.

Also, remember when I mentioned this game had one bad song in the soundtrack? Well, this is it. The final boss theme. It started off okay, but then just devolves into this warzone of instruments.

In Ripto’s second phase, he gets bigger for no reason. Like, his character model just resizes itself. He didn’t even use the scepter. Does it help him? No. In fact, it makes him an easier target. Instead of his ice wall, he uses a flame wall, so you need to beat him with the Ice Breath. This phase works exactly the same way as the first, so it’s just a lazy rehash.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly Ripto final form boss fight phase 3

And if you bothered to go through 100% completion, you get to fight Ripto in his third phase: a giant ogre version of himself. Again, this battle is pretty easy if you know what you’re doing. All he does is slam his staff on the ground like a club, which creates an electrical shockwave. Eventually, his staff will begin to malfunction and that will be your chance to use the Lightning Breath on it. Rinse and repeat. Then Ripto goes, “Curses! Foiled again!”, escapes and we get the ending to this trainwreck of a game.

By the way, Enter the Dragonfly only has about six minutes worth of cutscenes. About half of that time was just the game’s intro alone. That’s depressing.

And I don’t know if this is because I was playing the Gamecube version of this game, but um… what the fuck is this?

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly credits Sparx with no pupils

I know Sparx was supposed to have big, black pupils here. But what I’m seeing now is a dead Sparx with a horrified expression mounted on a plaque. Yeah, let that image haunt your nightmares.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly credits Sparx with no pupils

That could actually make a good creepy jump scare image.

And that is Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly. Is it really the worst Spyro game of all time? Well…

Up to this point in the series, YES! IT’S THE WORST! But nowadays, it’s the worst home console Spyro game of all time, but the purple dragon would eventually find himself in worse games later on. Yes, for real. There are Spyro games out there that are just as bad, if not worse, than this one. Let that sit in the back of your mind.

And the hell of it was that the game could’ve been so much better too, had it been given more time and a better development team. Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly was originally going to include 120 dragonflies and over 25 levels with a constant 60 FPS framerate and fast loading times. Hell, there was even going to be the series’ first major antagonist, Gnasty Gnorc, teaming up with Ripto. Again, this!

Spyro: Year of the Dragon PS1 epilogue Gnasty Gnorc and Ripto

So much lost potential here. Well, kiddies, what have we learned about Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly? Well, a few things, really.

  1. Universal should’ve been more clear and specific about what it wanted to see in a Spyro game, instead of wasting the developers’ times by making them work and outright rejecting their completed projects. This poor communication between developer and publisher only served to waste more time and money. Why Universal thought it could get a big project out in less than a year with two new inexperienced developers is beyond me.
  2. Both of the developers, Check Six and Equinoxe, deserved better staffing and treatment. The internal politics, poor work environments, abusive staff members and the stressful crunch time ultimately brought out a worse product. Even for a big anticipated sequel, mistreatment of workers is NEVER justifiable.
  3. Do NOT rush out a game to meet a strict deadline. If the game is very incomplete and glitchy, it should not see the light of day until it receives more time and care. In 2018, Activision knew this and rightfully gave developer Toys for Bob more time to work on Spyro Reignited Trilogy. And the result? A complete, polished product that is scoring many positive reviews. And positive reviews and a lot of word-of-mouth lead to more sales.

While Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is a poor product, it’s an important lesson in the game industry. Games like these are a constant reminder on what strict deadlines and poor planning will lead to. And sooner or later, we’ll get the full story on what went on behind the scenes with this game’s development cycle and we’ll fully understand how the whole project fell apart. Kudos to those who did try to make the game into a better product at the time. Despite all my gripes about the game, it does show that there was a lot of effort into crafting it. It’s amazing that the game had that much behind it in such a short and chaotic development cycle.

But anyways, this goes without saying. Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly is not worthwhile to play through, even for Spyro fans. You might have some fun here and there, but it’s usually just small moments, whether it’s a deliberate part of the game’s design or a hilarious glitch. To aspiring game developers (and publishers) out there, please take this as a lesson on how NOT to develop a game.

And with this review out, it’s now time to play Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Later, folks!

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly

Price Varies
4.4

GAMEPLAY

4.0/10

STORY

1.0/10

GRAPHICS

5.5/10

SOUNDTRACK

7.0/10

Pros

  • The game certainly shows its leap into the sixth generation of consoles with its improved graphics from previous entries of the series.
  • Stewart Copeland's compositions for the game, which are consistently good—even if they're different from previous Spyro compositions.
  • For those game glitch enthusiasts out there, this game has a lot of bizarre and fun glitches to mess around with.
  • Speedway sections are okay overall.

Cons

  • The game makes a terrible first impression with its lame opening cutscene. Various character models and animations look pretty bad.
  • MANY forced tutorials that appear out of nowhere.
  • Imprecise controls.
  • Overall poor sound design.
  • Massive, tedious levels.
  • Because of the game's unfinished state, there are some game-breaking glitches.
  • The poor execution of the final (and only) boss battle.
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