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ups: cute purple dragon, easy to play, nice backrgound music
downs: unfinished gameplay, glitchy, repetitive

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Spyro: Shadow Legacy
game: Spyro: Shadow Legacy
two star
posted by: Laurie Taylor
publisher: Sierra Entertainment, Universal Interactive
developer: Amaze Entertainment
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ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
date posted: 10:18 AM Thu Nov 17th, 2005
last revision: 10:17 AM Thu Nov 17th, 2005

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Click to read.Spyro Shadow Legacy for the Nintendo DS changes course from the earlier platform Spyro games into a platform-RPG mixture. As not quite an RPG and not quite a platformer, Spyro: Shadow Legacy could have been a nice combination of elements from both. Instead, Spyro Shadow Legacy suffers from an incomplete and awkward integration of RPG and platforming elements within an overall unfinished package.

While Spyro: Shadow Legacy features cute graphics and decent sound, its biggest failing comes from its gameplay. Spyro Shadow Legacy does feature a somewhat interesting use of the DS\'s touch screen, using it to display and access inventory, to display maps, and to cast spells by drawing shapes with the stylus. While this works well enough, its limited effectiveness actually highlights Spyro\'s larger failing and shows how Spyro could and should have been a better game.

In Spyro: Shadow Legacy, Spyro is a cute young dragon-and the cuteness here is important since this is targeted more at children than adults-fighting to save his world after energy and magic begin to be drained into the shadow realm. Players play with Spyro through both the real world and the shadow realm with different enemies, characters, and events available in each. The doubling of the game world is not a new concept and Spyro: Shadow Legacy doesn\'t manage to do anything new or very interesting with the doubling. The doubled world makes the game bigger, in a way, and longer, but it doesn\'t add anything to the gameplay or the gaming experience.

Working from a decent, albeit rather basic, storyline, Spyro: Shadow Legacy does have some limited success in terms of the graphics and sound. The visuals are extremely cute, which is a definite plus especially for the target child player audience, but players will notice that some of the graphics clip or distort when non-static objects are too close to each other. The sprite-clipping in Spyro are reminiscent of issues like slowdown from the old NES days, only Spyro\'s glitches occur even when very few items are onscreen. The visuals, while cute, are thus impaired and distorted when in motion.

Another positive of sorts is the game music. The background music is good and nicely varied for the most part; however, it\'s combined with sound effects that are sometimes good and sometimes overly basic and cliched. Child players may like this style of sound, but older players will probably find the sound effects annoying and a negative for the game. Building from the uneven graphics and sound, Spyro: Shadow Legacy then begins to truly suffer from its poorly implemented gameplay.

Spyro: Shadow Legacy stays true to its platformer roots with Spyro\'s multiple abilities that are used to explore and to fight enemies. Spyro breathes fire, jumps and glides, charges and rams objects and enemies, and uses magical attacks. A decent portion of gameplay is spent with Spyro running around and fighting enemies. Yet, those platformer roots are disfigured through poor collision detection. For instance, sometimes Spyro jumps and lands on ground, sometimes he does the same thing and yet dies from falling off of the screen. The collision detection and surfaces seem to be either so poorly controlled or so poorly laid out that players will find that many areas just seem to glitch for no reason.

Added to that are RPG elements where Spyro must fight to gain experience to earn new abilities, which are in turn necessary to access new areas and to fight more powerful enemies. Forcing players to level up to upgrade different skills really doesn\'t change gameplay other than to restrict the abilities for earlier levels. The RPG elements actually manage to weaken the platformer elements without adding anything to the game because the back story and gameplay still try to function in a platformer-esque manner.

The RPG elements detract in such a way that Spyro: Shadow Legacy turns from a poor platformer into a poor platformer and a poor RPG leveler where players must fight the same enemies repeatedly in order to gain new skills. As an RPG-hybrid, Spyro: Shadow Legacy does not increase or elaborate on the basic back story and it only offers tacked-on mini-missions. The mini-missions consist of running errands for different townspeople-like getting bugs and worms to make squishy muffins for the Armadillos and cleaning up other dragon\'s houses. While the mini-missions are definitely targeted at and would appeal to children, the missions are still very simple and not integrated into the game, so that they feel like an afterthought rather than part of the actual game. Another minor element that could have been better are the random books are scattered about and Spyro can read selections from them. These also seem tacked on and unrelated to gameplay. Spyro can also purchase goods from one of the bears he rescues, and the purchasing system there again functions as though it were an afterthought-it\'s as if the designers couldn\'t playtest the game and so they slapped on the bear and his shop so that players wouldn\'t get too overly frustrated with the game.

Spyro: Shadow Legacy thus diffuses the benefits of a platformer by being unfinished and then adding the negatives of an RPG without adding the positives. On a minor note, in addition to enemies, players can fight sheep and chickens, who can\'t fight back. As a children\'s game-and even for older players-beating up chickens has it\'s own inner fun meter, but it isn\'t enough to rescue the rest of the gameplay.

Spyro: Shadow Legacy does offer multiple hours of gameplay, even if some of those hours stem from confusing game design or poor collision detection. Still, Spyro: Shadow Legacy does offer hours of gameplay with a cute main character, easy controls, and a simple underlying story. Spyro: Shadow Legacy could be an acceptable game for young players who have more free time and don\'t mind the gameplay deficiencies. Given its negatives, Spyro: Shadow Legacy could be a fair used game purchase or a viable game for players who love everything Spyro or anything with dragons or a similar idiosyncrasy. All other players would be better off with another Spyro game for the platformer elements or a Zelda game for the RPG elements.

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