I’ve been working my way through the Spyro remake and it’s kind of fascinating to consider the tone shift between 1 and 2.
Spyro 1 focuses entirely on movement and navigation. The vast majority of the dialogue in the game is stuff like “Hi Spyro! Have you tried pressing X at the peak of your jump to glide?”. It has a paper-thin story, and a world populated entirely by enemies and things you can kill for hit points. It relied entirely on its amazing level design and it’s gorgeously stylized art.
2, on the other hand, is FULL of story. Every new level is a new situation, with an NPC to explain it and beg for your help. It’s also got a few game design ideas borrowed from what we now call “Metroidvanias” - you *cannot* 100% any of the first hub world’s levels until you’ve been to the second hub world and acquired a new skill that lets you access new parts of the levels.
It’s a really huge change. You go from chill places that all have the same story - Spyro is recovering gems, freeing dragons, and catching the odd egg thief - to a series of places with their own problems. Everywhere you go in 2, someone is fighting someone else and wants your help; Avalar is a magical land full of conflict.
I’m finding that I can’t play 2 for as long at a stretch as 1, simply because of this added narrative complexity. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing; sometimes you want to hang out in the chillout room listening to ambient, sometimes you wanna be on the dance floor with the music that makes you wanna shake your ass, you know?
Part of this, I’m sure, is due to technical limitations. Insomniac was pretty much starting from scratch with 1, and had to figure out how to get charming animation into a PS1, how to make fun levels to dragon around in, and lots of other stuff that 2 was able to build on to make a much more complex game. 2 probably has everything they had to leave on the cutting room floor during the process of getting 1 out, plus a ton of new stuff that came up while they were making it!
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