Relight my fire: Giving Spyro the HD treatment

Ever since the release of the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, players worldwide have been asking for a Spyro remaster. Their prayers have now been answered, with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy hitting shelves today.

“The team at Vicarious Visions did an amazing job on Crash Bandicoot – they’ve set a high bar!” says Paul Yan, studio head at Activision-owned Toys for Bob, the developer that was tasked with re-creating Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon for this remastered trilogy.

Thankfully, it’s not Toys for Bob’s first rodeo – the 29 year old studio developed a good chunk of the Skylanders franchise, including 2011’s Spyro Adventure.

“We’ve always had an affinity for Spyro,” Yan continues. “Even though the Skylanders universe is heavily inspired by the original Spyro games, when the time came to return to Spyro’s roots with Spyro Reignited Trilogy, we consciously decided these were two different characters. We want to make sure we’re returning to classic Spyro and making the distinction really helped guide our creative decisions.”

Spyro might not be as popular as Crash, but that’s not saying he’s not famous. Activision’s president and COO Coddy Johnson said back in May that “pre-orders [were] well ahead of expectations.” With millions of fans waiting for this remaster to happen, the team at Toys for Bob was well aware of the weight put on their shoulders.

“Whenever you have the pleasure of working on an iconic franchise there is going to be expectations and Spyro is no different,” Yan says. “Of course, fan expectations add a certain amount of pressure but we’re confident that they’ll be able to see the level of imagination and detail that has gone into the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, all the while staying true to the spirit of the originals.”

Remaining as authentic as possible compared to the original experience was obviously the studio’s ambition – and surely Activision’s mandate. But it’s one that feels very much fulfilled based on our experience.

“Toys For Bob’s goal was to ensure that the Spyro in the Reignited Trilogy remained faithful to the same classic Spyro that fans remember back in the 90s. We listened to super fans inside and out of the studio to ensure we were paying close attention to the details that made the original game so memorable,” Yan says.

“A remaster is a different beast compared to a new IP, but really all we ever want to do is give fans the best possible experience and a game that they want to pick up and play at any time. Any remaster is a challenge especially as you’re looking to modernise something from 20 years ago.”

To reach their goal, the team had to dig into the original trilogy to rebuild the games from the ground up in HD, Yan continues.

“We built a tool called ‘Spyro-scope’ that helped us deeply analyse the original games so we could extract hard data of all the original metrics, to help us accurately recreate key mechanics, controls, placements, timing and size. This means that each level in Spyro Reignited Trilogy is mapped faithfully from the originals.”

Back at Gamescom, we briefly chatted with Jeremy Anderson, production services associate specialist at Activision, at the Spyro demo booth. He confirmed Toys for Bob’s dedication to being as close as possible to the origin material.

“[Toys for Bob] went back to a lot of the original artwork that was used for the original games. They did consult with some of the members from the original development studio and people who worked on the original title to create the same game experience. And they’ve shown the game to the original game team,” he said, before we asked if the Insomniac team liked the result. “They loved it, they’re in the same vein; if they had been able to create graphics like this back then, that’s what they would have gone for.”

Talking about his favourite aspect of the new trilogy, Anderson continued: “I think the best thing about this remaster is the physics mechanic, how it feels to run around as Spyro. It just feels so good. I love how fast the game is. That was my first real experience with a character that felt that quick outside of a racing game.”

If the Reignited Trilogy primarily will appeal to gamers who played the original titles, Activision very much intends to attract a new audience as well, Yan says.

“This game is the perfect opportunity for new fans to experience why Spyro made such a huge impression on gaming history. New fans will enjoy the experience of playing a classic platformer that’s loaded with an incredible amount of new detail, updated controls and improved mechanics.”

He concludes: “Seeing the community’s reactions to the various announcements and reveals has been really inspiring and motivating for us at Toys for Bob. It’s a real privilege to be a part of something that has been – and continues to be – a big source of joy and happiness.”

About Marie Dealessandri

Marie Dealessandri is MCV’s former senior staff writer. After testing the waters of the film industry in France and being a radio host and reporter in Canada, she settled for the games industry in London in 2015. She can be found (very) occasionally tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate, Hollow Knight and the Dead Cells soundtrack.

Check Also

Google has announced that Stadia will shut down soon

Google is shutting down Stadia, according to an official blog post by Stadia VP and general manager Phil Harrison that went online yesterday