Game Review of The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning (GBA)

It’s a classic story: ultra-powerful being feels threatened by the prophecy of someone who is destined to dethrone him, so he kills those who might grow up to do so. We’ve seen it in the Bible with Herod and Christ, in Harry Potter with Voldemort and Harry, and now in Spyro with the Dark Master and Spyro.

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning is just that — a new beginning. This is a reboot of the classic PlayStation series, now made for a variety of other systems. I’ve played the Nintendo DS version and the Game Boy Advance version, and they are both different enough (not in story but in gameplay) that I am reviewing them separately. This review is for the GBA version.

As most reboots go, our little hero Spyro is given a different backstory and world. This time, we learn details about his birth and upbringing, and we learn about Sparx the dragonfly. We are introduced to the Dragon Guardians and the Chronicler (not to be confused with the Dragon Elders), and we find many other minute differences in this brave new world.

The story begins by telling us of the rarity of purple dragons (like Spyro!). They are born once every ten generations, and are immensely powerful.

Currently, there is one purple dragon, known as the Dark Master. He is an evil dragon, and he learns of a prophecy about a new purple dragon, who is destined to overthrow him. This dragon will either take his place as an evil ruler, or be a force for good in the world.

The Dark Master feels threatened by this, obviously. So, he sends his minions to the Dragon Temple, where the dragon eggs are stored. Their orders are to smash all of the eggs, regardless of color. The four Dragon Guardians are overwhelmed, and three are taken prisoner. The Fire Guardian, Ignitus, manages to escape…with one egg. A purple dragon egg. Ignitus knows of the prophecy, and he sends the egg down the river in the hopes that it will find safety.

In previous Spyro games, we are never told the details about Spyro’s birth. We never meet his parents, siblings, or anything. We know virtually nothing about him. For that reason, I was glad to have a bit more insight into the backstory of my favorite little dragon.

But this is where the story detracts from previous canon: Spyro’s egg floats down the river and is found by a family of dragonflies. The two of them have never seen a dragon, and when Spyro hatches they are unsure of what he is. They decide to adopt him, and raise him alongside their son Sparx, who was born that same day.

None of this fits with previous stories in the original Spyro the Dragon games. In the earlier storyline, every dragon was paired with a firefly. There was a great ceremony and everything. Although this is very much different from the story I had come to know and love, in some ways I think I actually like this more. Sparx was always kind of overlooked, and I really like the idea of he and Spyro being ‘brothers’. It gives them a stronger relationship, and gives Sparx a reason for being there.

I won’t spoil any more of the story, but I will say that I thought it was pretty well thought out, and very well done. I’m glad this series got a reboot, and I am very happy with the resulting story that came from it.

But now to the ‘not great’ parts of the game. This is where the GBA version differs from the DS version, as I enjoyed the GBA version, but not as much as I loved the DS version.

The sound effects and music in this game were alright, but forgettable. I don’t really mind this, and I still suggest playing with the volume up.

But the graphics? Not so great. This pixelated side-scroller GBA game looked ‘meh’ at best. As the Nintendo DS was overtaking the Game Boy Advance at this time, I have to wonder if the GBA version of this game was somewhat of an afterthought, thrown together ‘just because’. It’s really not that great.

That’s not to say that I didn’t like it, or even enjoy it. It was a good game, just not as good as it could have or should have been (again, talking about only the GBA version here). It has a great story, and I can see anyone playing it a few times through, so it has got more replay value than a lot of other games.

Additionally, it has a lot of cool breath attacks, which was a lot of fun. All around, The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning is a good game, and as a fan of the Spyro franchise, I love it. It has earned a place on my shelf, although the DS version of the game really deserves it (don’t worry, they sit side-by-side).

So although I feel that this version of the game could have been much better, I really do recommend this (although somewhat lame) side-scroller game, especially if you are a Spyro fan.

What do you think? Have you played The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning? Did you play the GBA or the DS version? Let us know what you thought of them in the comments below.

Copyright 2018 Ammon Hansen

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