Spyro The Dragon was a successful debut for the purple dragon, and in 1999, a sequel was released. Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! has been considered one of the best platformers of the 1990s and is a game I’ve been playing for well over 10 years. This PS1 game is important to my childhood, but when looking past nostalgia, is the game really that great?
Spyro 2 introduced a few new aspects to the traditional Spyro formula. The general goal of the game is to still get from one end of a level to the other while collecting items, but there are a few changes. Gems are still prevalent, and are used as a currency to learn new moves, open portals, and clear paths in levels, but they no longer come out of enemies when you defeat them. When enemies are defeated, a number is added to a counter, and when that counter reaches a certain number, powerups in the level are activated. I like this idea, as it adds creativity to the level design by putting powerups in. There are also a ton of sidequests inside each level. There are several paths that are off to the side, and if Spyro follows them, he’ll often find somebody who needs him to complete a task. There are several fun tasks, like winning Ice Hockey, finding lost pets, and supercharging through debris. There are also less than fun tasks, but they’re few and far between. Completing these tasks awards Spyro with orbs, which are one of the main two collectables in the game. The other main collectable is the Talismans, which are physical symbols that represent the first 14 levels. These items essentially are used as plot macguffins and means to unlock doors to more levels and boss fights. The boss fights in Spyro 2 are very fun. The bosses require thinking and skill in order to beat them, and I used to replay these fights all the time as a kid. The level design is also really great. The platforming is top notch and there are only a few levels I don’t enjoy. The only levels that I generally dislike are Shady Oasis and Robotica Farms. These levels are just boring and the side missions aren’t fun. Though not perfect, the majority of the levels in Spyro 2 are pretty great. The highlights of the level list for sure are Magma Cone, Glimmer, Skelos Badlands, Aquaria Towers, Zephyr and Breeze Harbor. The home species in each Zephyr are the enemies in Breeze Harbor and vice versa. One annoying part of Spyro 2 is the backtracking.
There are side missions that require you to know a move that isn’t learned until later in the game on your first playthrough of some levels. This isn’t a huge issue, but it annoys me, since I hate having a level unfinished by the time I leave it. The hubworlds that house the portals to levels are large and intuitive. Even though these levels are hub worlds, they have puzzles that can be solved, orbs to be found, and gems to collect. These hub worlds are a lot better than Spyro 1’s, which where just bonafide levels that were easier. The controls in Spyro 2 vastly improve on Spyro 1’s controls. Spyro feels very fluid and is controllable by both Analog Stick and Dpad. Spyro can swim, climb ladders, headbash, and hover now, and all of these added abilities feel great to execute. Hovering adds a whole new aspect to gliding, as now a well-timed hover can get Spyro to even further away platforms than ever before. Climbing can be very situational at times, but in Magma Cone it’s used throughout the level. Other times, climbing is just used to reach new areas or spots in the first homeworld that you couldn’t reach before, since you learn the ability to climb in the second homeworld. Climbing also feels very stiff, and I really don’t enjoy doing it besides in Magma Cone. Headbashing is also very situational, only being used a couple of times in the game. Headbashing feels kind of awkward, but it isn’t used much. Swimming is very fun and with the surplus of water in the world of Spyro 2. The swimming control is amazing, just push the Square Button and Spyro will quickly swim in any direction you want. The ground controls and flaming controls feel great. Spyro moves very fluidly and can stop on a dime. I noticed that momentum doesn’t play that huge of a role in Spyro, which is neither good or bad. Charging feels as good and fast as ever, but every hardcore Spyro fan knows the that there’s a huge exploit that was overlooked in the development of Spyro 2. If you hit the charge button at the apex of your jump, Spyro will charge in the air. This charge kicks Spyro up a lot higher than he should be able to be, and as a result of this you can skip parts of the level by jumping over the boundaries. This exploit is also used for sequence breaking, as it can be used to bypass some ladders in the first homeworld. I enjoy this exploit and while it’s technically an error, it doesn’t make the game worse. Besides the backtracking and sometimes boring side missions, Spyro 2’s gameplay is great, and besides the new abilities of climbing and headbashing, the controls are fine.
Spyro 2’s graphics and sound are beautiful. The game looks a lot cleaner and less jaggy than Spyro 1. The character models are mostly fine, with some of the newer characters looking a bit strange, but most of the new enemy models look great. The environments are more detailed and colorful this time around, and while there can be some polygonal problems and glitches, the graphics still hold up today. The sound is just phenomenal. Stewart Copeland was behind the music again, and as a result the level themes are fantastic. The homeworld tracks are also very ambient and pleasing on the ears. The graphics and music of Spyro 2 are still fantastic for the most part.
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! is still a blast to play through. I’ve beaten this game more times than I can count, and I consider it one of my favorite games on the Playstation. I can easily say that Spyro 2 has aged very well.