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Spyro the Dragon: Reignited Trilogy - November 13th, 2018 (PS4, Xbox One)

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On 08/04/2018 at 8:18 AM, Apollo Chungus said:

Now that the trailer's out, and I've watched it a couple of times (along with CrystalFissure's analysis of it), part of me feels like I should do a video on my issues with the visual direction. Not just what I originally said, but I'd also like to cover a couple of other things, such as:

1. The nature of Toys for Bob's intent (which is to faithfully recreate the games), and why this is presents a bit of a quandary given the vast changes.

2. The difference between remasters (which this is being advertised as) and remakes (what this actually is), and how that's important to understanding and acknowledging these changes.

3. The fact that since they're not the original developer, what they're presenting in the remakes as a recreation is actually more of a reinterpretation (e.g. the brighter, less depressing makeover they've given to what seems to be the Beast Makers world, which was originally inspired by Apocalypse Now of all things) of the source material, and why that matters.

4. The overly aggressive lighting and the new skyboxes being very literal and removing that abstract feeling that helped make the original levels so memorable or distinct.

But my question is: should I cover it? Or should I do so right now? We've only got one trailer and a bunch of screenshots, and I'm not sure whether it's the right idea to go critiquing the game when we know so little about it. At the same time, with the footage and screenshots they've put out with the announcement, this is them putting their best foot forward to show us what they can do, and I feel like it shouldn't just be blindly praised because of nostalgia or some other such feeling.

Again, I don't mind these changes out of principle, but I do want to be sure (or at least 75% sure) of what I'm doing. Can y'all let me know what you think? Thanks.

(Also, for those who didn't see my initial thoughts, they're in the spoiler below.)

  Reveal hidden contents

This will be a bit of a long post, since there's a lot to get out, so bear with me on this.

For context, the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy ranks as one of my all time favourite game trilogies, damn near as much as the Mega Drive Sonic the Hedgehogs. I love how good the controls are, Stewart Copeland's music is one of the quintessential PS1 classics, and I especially love how simple, but beautiful the graphics are. It's still impressive after all this time how the games even run to begin with, considering that free-roaming 3D environments were impossible to do on the PS1 (at least, compared to something like the N64).

However, I've never been on here to discuss the PS4 remakes. This was for two reasons:

1. If they weren't outright confirmed, I didn't want to get involved in an eternal session of speculation where we'd keep taking guesses over random points of potentially meaningless evidence.

2. I have no interest in these remakes. Ignoring the fact that I already have all three games, so this wouldn't have meant much to me as is, I'm worried that these remakes will get things wrong. And I'm calling this, and the N-Sane Trilogy, a REMAKE - because that's what it is. It may be an attempt to faithfully recreate the originals by as close an approximation as possible, but that is a remake - making something from the ground up. The 2011 version of Sonic CD is a remake, since it is made within a new engine. Shadow of the Colossus on the PS4 is a remake, since the assets are brand new. And this new Spyro trilogy is a remake, since there will be changes made.

And that's what had me worried since the possibility of these was first brought up. That like the N-Sane Trilogy, the developer (presumably Toys for Bob, but I'll leave it blank for now) will try to create the closest equivalent to the original games as they can, and will therefore be off with a few things. I don't mind changes or deviations from the source material, but when it's attempting to be a very faithful remake of a certain game, they risk hitting an uncanny valley effect where it's close enough, but not close enough that I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it.

I had no interest in discussing these remakes unless asked, but then I saw those screenshots. And we need to talk.

First off, the character models are pretty good. Spyro's a bit chunky at the front (reminds me a bit of a pregnant cat), but I think it works, and he's quite expressive. The enemy designs in Spyro 1 were not that game's strong point, so any change is already going to be an improvement. They look expressive, and could work quite well.

No, my problem is with the environments, and how unappealing they look. Yes, I said unappealing. They don't look bad, in the sense that they're well constructed approximations of the original level designs, but my problems stem from their use of aesthetics and colour.

For a start, they remind way, way too much of those fan remakes where someone takes a level from an old game, sticks it in a new engine, and leaves it at that. (Or they add details upon details upon details until the aesthetic is overly cluttered and busy.) There's so much focus put towards using all this new technology to add little details and cool effects that they don't realize how washed out the colour palette looks, or how its clean design has been utterly swamped in more miscellaneous details than Jim Lee's artwork. Yes, it can look impressive in a comparison to the original visuals, but that eventually fades into the back of your mind and becomes meaningless.

Secondly, the original games had a very strong consideration for colour theory in how it influenced the look of the levels, their mood, and the level design. Most famously, colour theory was used in making Spyro purple - he was originally green, but it blended in too well with the green hills of early levels, so Insomniac went through many different colours until they found one that stood out against any of the game's backdrops. Colour theory was very important in creating levels that had a particular feeling, while still having every element be easily identifiable to the player (which helps them to orient where everything is, and makes things less strenuous for players with impaired vision). And this isn't coming from someone with a very strong knowledge of colour theory: this was the subject of a Gamasutra feature written by the game's original artists back in 2000. This shit's been public knowledge for nearly 20 years!

But these screenshots imply a disregard for that colour theory, with the standard washed out colours, pale sunlight for no particular reason, lighting that blends levels in with the skyboxes, and the other aesthetic problems that plagued the N-Sane Trilogy. Again, when it's trying to be as faithful a remake as possible, the idea that the developer seems to be disregarding the use of colour theory that made the original games so visually appealing is just... bothersome. Like, there's more to faithfully recreating a game than just getting the gameplay right, you know? If you're not going to do the visuals justice, or you replace the iconic soundtrack with a meaningless wall of noise, or you ignore the pacing and mood that made the original so distinct (to name but a few of the countless things that go into remaking a game) - then why bother?

Why not do something different; something new that you can call your own without forcing people to make comparisons? These decisions don't have to be bad (and sometimes aren't; the Magic Crafters world looks quite good), but these are decisions that should be held under greater scrutiny if the intent is to recreate something to the best of one's ability. I know there's not much that can be done about this - this looks quite far along, and I'm not aware enough of game development to know how long it would take to adjust the environments until they were a PS4 equivalent of what the originals' simple and clean designs, so there might not be enough time to do that. And with how pleased people are as to how the game looks (which, like the N-Sane Trilogy, I'd chalk up to the excitement of an old franchise coming back being a strong influence), I doubt the developer will feel much incentive to bother.

I hate that this bothers me so much (particularly since I'm doing that whole "complain about a game that's not out yet" thing that I once criticized - in a shitty video I made back when Skylanders was first announced, to boot!). But I just feel like these visuals could be so much better than they are, especially when this will be the definitive (or most easily accessible) way to play the original games for quite some time. I hope the remakes are good, but this combined with my prior lack of interest has just got me as turned off as I possibly could be.

 

I too have many issues about the visual direction we've seen so far. Although it is still early days, I think it's important that we address our concerns and provide feedback as early as possible while the developers are still listening to fan reactions. I agree that the lighting is very aggressive in some levels - especially the Artisans Homeworld, Stone Hill, Dry Canyon and Blowhard. It's like they read all the complaints about the N.Sane Trilogy needing more contrast and applied it to the visual direction for Spyro :/ However, I do think this lighting would work well in darker levels like Tree Tops, Dark Hollow and Dark Passage etc... but in brighter levels like the Artisans Homeworld and Stone Hill, it just looks unwelcoming.

Here's a quick colour correction I made of Stone Hill... right down to the little yellow flags on the castle, haha! Yeah, I know that's obsessing, but it's definitely more faithful to the original. Like, I really don't understand their decision for making the flags red and the castle roof blue in the remake... was it so hard to just use the original colour palette? I'm not saying it's bad to use red flags on a blue roof, but there simply wasn't anything wrong with the original colours. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Dammit, I just want to play the levels the way I remember them!!

Okay, got a little carried away ranting there, so I think I'll stop now, haha :sweat_smile: Anyway, I would really like to hear more of your thoughts on how they can improve the visuals. If you upload a video, please send me the link. And feel free to use my picture in the video if it helps with explaining anything ;)

Stone Hill Colour Comparisons.png

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I'm been listening to Spyro 2's soundtrack while working, and by heavens, that's soooo good. I sincerely wish they should add an option to enable the original soundtrack, I'm affraid it will be even more hit or miss than Crash NST, Copeland used too many samples mixed together, plus his own style, which will be pretty hard to replicate... not loosing my sleep over it, I'm open for changes, but still...

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4 hours ago, SonicWind said:

New image. No doubt this is the Peace Keepers hub. Please tell me they kept the Gnorcs mooning Spyro...

That one look goooooood. Spyro looks less "fatty" and even less cute here. Awesome, man. Now where's those B-rolls, hmmmmm?

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Another great video from VTNVIVI, I never usually go into videos like this but everything in the video I agree with and should/could happen with the trilogy. Also was just listening to some Spyro Year of the Dragon soundtrack, brought back a lot of memories. So the soundtrack will be the hardest to beat with Year of the Dragon, if it's similar to the remade dark hollow track.

Plus remember the leaks that Crash would come to other consoles before the announcement confirming the 1 year exclusivity. Okay not this case with Spyro, as far as the 1 year exclusive goes, because it's launching on 2 systems, possibly 4 with the quick appearance on Nintendo UK and the Crash Bandicoot Steam page being updated on the same day as the Spyro announcement. Now I don't know when both versions release, but my guess within the month of the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Take Sonic Mania for instance, the PC version was originally intended to launch with the other versions but the release was delayed until later that month, and now look we get physical versions later this year, after being digital exclusive for 1 year.

Plus here's another video from VTNVIVI gathering up all the information we know into one place.

I also found this, why would Spyro Reignited need a multiplayer function?

 

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Toys for Bob have actually been working on Spyro Reignited Trilogy since at least a few months before April last year (as they were finishing work on Skylanders Imginators), at the time they said it would use Unreal Engine 4, which is the confirmed Spyro engine. Also the job listings mention PC, which means Spyro will come to PC. Don't worry the Switch version will come, as demonstrated by Nintendo's quick reaction time to remove the listing. We'll see something more for the other Spyro versions soon, as shown by the leaked international Nintendo Switch Crash listings 2 weeks before the multiplatform announcement.

https://www.resetera.com/threads/toys-for-bob-skylanders-devs-hiring-for-new-project.21301/

https://www.neogaf.com/threads/activisions-toys-for-bob-skylanders-star-control-making-an-ue4-service-game.1364173/

Also this Toys for Bob video from March this year, had a Spyro teaser in the picture below.

 

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13 hours ago, Blue Knight/Bluestreak said:

Toys for Bob have actually been working on Spyro Reignited Trilogy since at least a few months before April last year (as they were finishing work on Skylanders Imginators)

As previously stated here, Project Falcon, which is all but confirmed at this point to be the remasters(Falcon McBob anyone?) began in 2015, around the same time as N.Sane.

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There's SNOW way. I loved this, I'm so silly. Spyro model looks so good there. This is Ice Cavern I believe?

Dang, how did that video from TfB passed unnoticed? The fans blinked on that day xD 

I guess no one expected Toys for Bob to be behind this remake? Although it always seems more logical than Vicarious Visions... Watching that video, it looks like they're great people and very passionate about what they do... Eeeeeeeeventhough some one there though the Skylanders' Spyro design was good... But that's in the past. I'm hopefull. 

Just don't fuck with the soundtrack, guys. I'm been listening to all 3 Spyro's OST, and goddamn, is it incredible. It's not something you'd hear in every videogame, this is different. It's special. I can't describe, for example, I've only played Spyro 2 twice, and aaaaages ago, but listening to its soundtrack, I immediately started remembering the visuals and the characters from all those enchanted worlds. 

Spyro is so good, man. 

Speaking of music, I reaaaaally hope they use the Spyro 3 Greatest Hits tracks, I need that Evening Lake remix inside me. Also, every speedway level have awesome music, especially the Honey Speedway, but they all used the same track (I think it was Harbor Speedway) in the actual game :/

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On 4/5/2018 at 9:25 PM, Jovahexeon Omega-Sapphire said:

The plot thickens.

If this is a hoax, it's a ridiculously well-crafted one.

There's a lot of speculation going on that the official announcement for Spyro on the Switch is being saved for Nintendo E3 or a Direct. Could coincide with an announcement of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro being in Smash.

Beaten to the punch, we've known about this since the 5th.

That said, I think it's obvious. They're probably just waiting til NST releases and then after seeing how well that does, announcing it then.

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I'm already picturing the Smash reveal of both of these - friendly competition of some sort, then a portal opens with the energy in it resembling the Smash logo. They jump through, cue gameplay. Then it gets announced that along with N-Sane Trilogy, the Reignited Trilogy is coming as well.

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On 4/19/2018 at 4:54 PM, NegaMetallix said:

While I don't doubt that a Switch version of the trilogy will come, I do wonder if it may come out at a later date than the PS4/XB1 versions. Hence why there's been no official word from Activision or TFB about a Switch release yet.

You'd think they would do it to meet the 20th anniversary date, unlike Crash which met the 21st anniversary (22nd for other platforms)

Plus we could get a Spyro artbook like other game franchises like Ratchet & Clank and Sonic.

 

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