Game Title: The Legend of Spyro The Eternal Night
Developer: Sierra, Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: DS
NA Availability: Retail
EU Availability: Retail
There are a lot of handheld gamers over in the west that would like to play the Spyro the Dragon games. Europe doesn’t have an issue, but North America does. When you look at the PS Vita, you currently cannot play the Spyro PS One games on the system or on the PSTV. With how much I played Year of the Dragon on my PSP, it is truly a shame.
Spyro fans do not have to fret, though. There are some Spyro games available on the other side of the current handheld world, the 3DS. Since the 3DS is compatible with Nintendo DS games, it can play the reboot trilogy. Well, at least it can play the DS versions of the three reboot games, which are actual Spyro games and not just using Spyro in the Skylanders series.
When choosing which of these games to review, I found it pretty difficult at first. But, I decided to go with the middle game. While this doesn’t make sense for the story, it’ll make sense when I talk about the gameplay. So, here’s my retro review of The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night!
The Legend of Spyro Trilogy was interesting because it was like one big story. Eternal Night comes in right when its predecessor left off. After looking for Cynder and finding that she is leaving the temple to atone for the events of the previous game, Spyro gets caught up in a new plot involving a new villain named Maul that sends an army of apes to attack the temple where Spyro and Sparx live.
The story of the game is as a Spyro game is expected to be. There is a serious element to everything going on, but there’s also a good bit of comedy thrown in as well. You’re not likely to see a familiar sorceress rabbit hopping around, but it’s got a lot of charm to it.
Eternal Night is a 3D plat-former with combat elements thrown into the mix. You will be jumping and gliding around on platforms and fighting enemies with fire breath and physical attacks as you go through the game.
Classic Spyro fans should recognize that kind of description because that’s exactly why I chose to do Eternal Night as opposed to the other two games of the trilogy. Jumping, Gliding, Ramming, and breathing are inspired and come straight from the PS One trilogy. Eternal Night on the DS plays very similar to how the PS One games played.
There are no stages to select, but just stages that are loaded as you progress the story. Each of these stages has you navigating with a combination of fighting off enemies, solving puzzles, and reaching the end to keep the story going forward. Plat-forming is the one element that Spyro fans will be familiar with. You can jump and glide to move from platform to platform and navigate through each area.
Combat and puzzles are a little different this time around. While breath attacks are pretty much the same as they always were, melee attacks have a combo system now. When you approach an enemy, you can hit the attack button rapidly to hit them several times, which will eventually stun them, allowing you to launch them into the air and use the touch screen to apply a finishing move to defeat them. There are also elemental attacks that you gain further into the game.
Puzzles are, by far, the most unique part of the game. You will often come to rooms where the path is blocked. To unblock the path, you must access mirror puzzles where you have a light shining across a grid and use different mirrors to reflect the light onto key areas that will unlock the next area. While this is puzzling in itself, many of these have missing pieces that you must first collect in the immediate area before you can attempt the puzzle.
The way all of this works is one of things that I’m not a particular fan of. Platforming is there, but sometimes it feels a little too robotic. There are many areas where platforms are like stairs. You have to jump. Stop. Jump. Stop. Over and over. There just isn’t a smooth flow of what you’re doing and it gets to feeling a little old and repetitive pretty early in the experience. I remember in the original games, you had a lot of platforming like that, but you could stay in a fast flow of things and tackle them with dashing and gliding, but this feels much more robotic.
Now, this does go on for a good amount of time for an action-ish game. Eternal Night should last you about 5-6 hours, the same amount of time as you’d take in the console versions of the game. With how affordable the game is now, that’s a good amount of content to go through.
The controls aren’t bad but limited. The D-Pad is used for moving around. The R button is used to center the camera, since this is a 3D game. Now we have the face buttons. A is used for breath attacks Y is used for melee attacks. X is used for dodging and B is used for jumping / gliding.
Finally, the touch screen is used for all of the puzzles and the finishing move. That is the one thing I want to say about the controls. Finishers can only be done with the touch screen. Since you have a split-second between hitting an enemy and needing to do the finisher, you pretty much have to be holding onto the stylus all the time as you play, which feels really awkward.
Visually, the game looks similar to the PS One Spyro games. 3D games are hard to come by on the Nintendo DS, but sometimes 3D isn’t always a good thing. Yes, the game has 3D environments and renders, but a lot of them look a bit blurred out and even for the DS, don’t look that polished. People out there who are big on graphics should take note of that.
The rest of the presentation I don’t have any quarrels with, which is something I could get used to doing in reviews. The game runs and plays well and the load times are nice and short. It’s always nice to be able to only take points based on the actual game instead of both the game and how it plays. I’m sure I’ll get more into this if/when I start moving onto different areas of handheld gaming in the future.
The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night is a handheld game that has a console-like experience. It certainly isn’t perfect, with some repetitive platforming elements, among other things. But, it’s the closest 3DS owners will get to a true Spyro experience.