Empty Elegy: The Legend of Spyro

BastianApril 28th, 2013 by Bastian

While I had said last week that my intention for this week was to return back to chronology of Zelda clones in roughly the order in which they were released, I was preparing for the next episode of a similar series (albeit a video one) on Zelda clones on my YouTube channel… and that episode was on the topic of The Legend of Spyro trilogy… so I decided to kill two Keese with one arrow and just use that research for this feature. Sorry!

And I know what you’re thinking: “Spyro the Dragon, really?!” Yes, really. For those who have only played the Spyro the Dragon trilogy, you might think Spyro has more in common with Mario than with Link, and in that you would be right. But The Legend of Spyro trilogy is a very different beast, and this beast looks a heck of a lot like Zelda.

Jump inside to see why I feel this trilogy is borrowing a thing or two from the Legend of Zelda!

First of all: a bit of history. The Legend of Spyro trilogy is actually a reboot of an earlier series of games which have about as much in common as Mario does with Zelda. The Spyro the Dragon trilogy is all about platforming and collecting hundreds of gems scattered everywhere across the landscape with cartoon-y graphics and humorous villains; the stories in these games are ancillary and silly and really the focus of this earlier trilogy was just on exploring and collecting gems.

The combat was extremely simple: either head bash into an enemy (akin to Mario’s jumping on an enemy) or breathing fire on those enemies impervious to the head bash (akin to Mario’s fire power); in either case, it’s a one-shot-and-done deal for the most part. The Legend of Spyro trilogy, on the other hand, is a completely different genre of game. The focus on combat is much greater, and instead of headbutting, most enemies will require some fancy slashing with your front claws; this amounts to about the same as several sword slashes. Sure, you can still breathe fire, but that’s now more of an extra power rather than a requirement, similar to how in Zelda games you could use a Fire Rod or Din’s Fire or some such: it is an extra powerful attack that your “magic meter” limits your use of, but more on those in a bit. The point is the Legend of Spyro trilogy has very little in common with the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy.

Let’s take a look at the actual title of this trilogy: The Legend of Spyro. I feel it is fairly intentional that the developers chose to include the same wording as that from the series title for The Legend of Zelda. I think they were looking at Zelda as their blueprint in how to bring Spyro to a different genre. Rather than the mindless gem-collecting and silly enemies and goofy story, I think they looked to Zelda to show them how to make something still kid-friendly but also a little darker and a little more serious. They used Zelda to show them the path on changing the combat, but then they even went a step further an sort of winked at the gamers by adding “The Legend of” in the beginning to tell us: this is Spyro in the style of Zelda.

The combat. Yes, I know it might be difficult to imagine, but pressing the button and having Spyro swipe at an enemy really does feel fairly similar to Link slashing an enemy with his sword. Okami showed us before that replacing Link with a quadruped really didn’t change the feel of the movement and attacks much. They really could remove Spyro’s model from the game and replace it with Link’s and it would amount to the same thing as far as combat goes. Some enemies take five or so claw swipes just like some Zelda enemies take five or so sword slices. It’s the same thing really. And where in Zelda there are certain bosses who can only be hurt by certain pieces of equipment which can be found in either that dungeon or just before that dungeon, so it is as well in Spyro. Sort of. Instead of different pieces of equipment, you learn different types of elemental breaths, each one having a different status effect on an enemy and each one also used to solve various puzzles.

Which brings us to puzzles. Yes, there are switches which when pressed open doors in dungeons. There are also switches which require blocks to be pushed up onto them to hold that door open. Remind you of any game series which, if I’m remembering correctly, pioneered this type of puzzle. There are also puzzles which require several torches to be lit to unlock a door or way forward. The developers couldn’t have been much more obvious if they had included the same “you solved the puzzle” chime heard in Zelda.

But now let’s talk about some differences: Spyro can glide. Imagine always having the Deku Leaf from The Wind Waker right from the beginning of the game and that it’s always mapped to the same button: it is about the same mechanic. Spyro cannot actually fly until the final game of the trilogy (sorry, spoiled) but even then it’s just sort of like always riding your Loftwing from Skyward Sword and being able land on the ground and run around on it and take back to the sky when you feel like. Again, this doesn’t occur until the final game in the trilogy.

Which is another major difference: The Legend of Spyro is structured in the form of a trilogy with each of the first two games sort of leaving off on cliffhangers immediately picked up and resolved in the following game. The story is about as unencumbered by complexity as a Zelda story: it’s pretty straightforward “there a bad guy, let’s go beat him and save various races of creatures along the way” fare, but there are some fascinating twists along the way which I won’t ruin for you. Really, though, the three games are rather short clocking in at only about six hours each. Combined together they form into about one Zelda-sized game.

Another major difference is the voice acting and music. The music is 100% orchestral, and sounds very much like something you’d hear in a film score (the main theme, is absolutely beautiful in its simplicity). The voice acting is usually top-notch with actors such as Elijah Wood (Frodo in The Lord of the Rings) voicing Spyro, David Spade and Billy West and Wayne Brady each taking a turn at Sparx, Christina Ricci, Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, Blair Underwood… the trilogy is bursting with fine voice actors and it shows. In fact, the voice actor for the wise older dragon who mentors Spyro sounds an awfully lot like Gandalf next to Elijah Wood’s Spyro… if anything it gives the story all that more weight and importance.

So while there are many, many surprising similarities to the 3D style of Zelda, there are enough differences to not only make it not a ripoff, but to show that maybe Zelda could learn a thing or two about voice acting. Maybe.

Have you played the Legend of Spyro trilogy? Let us know what you thought about the games in the comments below!

Author: Bastian

The editor-in-chief for Zelda Dungeon, Bastian spends most of his time at the site recruiting, hiring, training, and editing nearly all of the writers you read here. He regrets that he has so little time to do much writing himself, but thoroughly enjoys it when he can. You can sometimes catch Bastian on Zelda Dungeon’s YouTube channel reporting breaking Zelda news, or reporting Nintendo news nearly daily on BastianTime, his own YouTube channel.

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  • http://twitter.com/CinnamonThief Alice

    One thing I liked with the final game (haven’t played the first two) was the armor. It provided some nice and useful collectibles. While Zelda does have its fair share of collectibles most of them aren’t very thrilling. Heart Pieces, bottles and the occasional tool are among the highlights, but really a majority of them consist of rupees or ammo.

    I’d love for Zelda to include some more useful and varied optional rewards. The medallions in SS was a good try but most of them wasn’t that useful. It would be great to have some sets that you could complete (aside from heart pieces). What if there was an optional bow split into three parts and you have to find the pieces scattered across the overworld? Would be much more exciting than recieving 100 rupees that doesn’t fit in your pocket anyway.

  • JuicieJ

    I miss Spyro. I know he’s in Skylander’s, but that’s not REAL Spyro gameplay. Sony… why?

    • The other guy.

      Seriously, so much more could have been done with that franchise.

      • http://twitter.com/ryanloeschner rboy21

        well we will just have to stick to our old ps1 games

    • Justac00lguy

      The original trilogy where amazing, made up a good chunk of my childhood and Its a shame to see the series go extremely down hill.

      As to why… For some reason it seems the developers went down the root of a more “mature” Spyro game, which didn’t suit the franchise in anyway. Spyro is a series that felt the need to adapt and replicate other franchises when the originals where simply amazing in themselves. I too miss one of my favourite past series and its a shame that we may never see a true Spyro game again.

    • Blackbaldrik

      Poor Spyro… *Wipes away tear*

    • diabloaura

      The reason Skylanders is so popular and that Spyro won’t comeback is that Skylanders is a Buisness Mogul’s stroke of genius, combining the gameplay of and Action/Adventure with Gotta-Catchem-All-ness of Pokemon.

      • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

        With one added note: to “catch ‘em all” in Skylanders, you charge the kids money for every additional creature. At least Pokémon games are only $35-$40 and give you 95% of that generation’s Pokémon in a single cartridge.

        • Bob

          So how much do they charge per creature and how many creatures are there?

          • Midna’s Sister

            No idea about number out there, but for a Light-up character, $25 to $30, for a giant about &15 to $20, and for a regular about $10 to $15.

          • Bob

            Wow, that will be a lot of money if there are about 100 figurines and a kid wants to collect them all. That’s (assuming that the person just happens to get all of them for the cost of regular figurines) at least $1000!!!

          • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

            Tell me about it. My brother-in-law collects them :P

          • Bob

            I’m scared to ask how many does he have and how many did he actually use for the game?

          • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

            Every single one he can find, and I don’t know about the latter. I’m pretty sure he keeps most of them in their packaging. With luck all that will be worth a fortune in the future so no complaints.

          • Midna’s Sister

            Yes Owo my mother has upheld a ban on buying them for my brother for the last two months.

          • diabloaura

            I don’t play but at wal-mart little ones are 8-15 and big ones are 10-20, both depending on popularity. They are always making more but I think they have about 35 regulars and 10 giants.

        • Midna’s Sister

          Yus. True

      • Bob

        In Skylanders, do you train the things you have to collect/buy or do you buy one and it has a set and constant set of stats?

        • diabloaura

          The second option. That way you don’t need any skill, time, or statistical ans analytical thinking to play.

    • Midna’s Sister

      Murr, me agrees. My only Spyro game was DoD, but last year the game was lost in a move and I haven’t found a copy since .3.

  • Greenhill Deku

    My 2 Childhood games were actually Spyro and The Legend of Zelda. Spyro, I think, is a bit easier and straight-forward compared to Zelda, so I stopped playing it. Although I do have some epic memories of it :) !

    • Bob

      You have not played Spyro the Eternal Night. My god that game was frustratingly hard. I almost through the ps2 controller at my tv once.

      • Grammar Nazi

        *threw

  • itsameluigi1290

    I don’t see it as a clone at all. But that’s just me. My favorite Spyro is probably A Hero’s Tail.

    • http://youtube.com/bastiantime bastian

      You know, that’s the only main Spyro game I haven’t played. I should try to track down a copy.

      • itsameluigi1290

        Well, I found mine at Gamestop. It’s a really good game! I think they even reference Zelda at one point, but I can’t remember.

    • Lupine Hero

      Owned it for two weeks, still haven’t played it… it’ll be my first original Spyro game.

  • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

    Awww….. I remember Spyro!

    I used to play one of those games all the time! But then my DS broke…

    • Bob

      Get a 3ds! JK, you don’t have to. :)
      I remember Eternal Night. You would have a death count of over 1000 if you ever managed to get past the first half of the game. Sigh… stupid blundertails

      • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

        I’m getting one. As soon as I can…. just…… *ugh*

        save up….. enough…… money………. *whew*.

        Saving up is hard.

  • Ninja Stud

    Frodo?! wow, im inspired.

  • Rainbow Dash

    You know… if you take off spyro’s horns n wings and make the highlights green he looks like spike from MLP…

    • Midna’s Sister

      This is true~ Not g3 or whatever the last MLP generation I grew up with was. Owo. I kind of miss prissy Rainbow Dash and Twilight-like Wysteria.

  • Talicor

    I really enjoyed the Legend of Spyro trilogy! When I was little I always wanted to get a Spyro game, but there wasnt one for our N64, so I had to wait until we got our GameCube before we could get it. I have some great memories of speed running New Beginning and Wind Waker. (We didn’t have a memory card, so it was our only option.)

  • Bob

    Oh man. When I was a child, I was INSANE about the Spyro franchise. Somehow, I got the original spyro game on (i believe) the ps1. With much difficulty, I got to the final boss, but never did manage to beat it. When I picked up The Eternal Night, I was so excited because instead of just breathing fire, you had attacks with ice, earth, and electricity. I was so amazed, yet I never even made it half way through the game because of how HARD eternal night was. Seriously, you need to be a super video game pro in order to beat it. Even with a video guide on the game I couldn’t beat it… Maybe now if I played it I could, but when I was young, I ragequit and sold it. :(

    • Lupine Hero

      That game is seriously the hardest game I’ve ever played in my life. Those cursed Blundertails…

      • Bob

        It took me MANY deaths to defeat the first round of blundertails. I never got past the Ravage Rider after that. When I saw in a playthrough of the game on youtube that there would be ANOTHER set of blundertails later on, I ragequit on the game. Even the final boss took the player I watched MANY tries to beat the final boss (who has a 1 hit KO attack!!!)

        • Midna’s Sister

          Myuff, just like an adorable(but evil and deadly) foe in Imressive World.

    • http://marjimusic.com/nwtb Clockwerk Orange

      so true. omg that game. I had problems with some of the platforming in it.

      • Bob

        Platforming was hard. The enemy AI and the amount of damage enemies gave you was ridiculously overpowered. Also, there are ways to elevate your health and magic meter as well as upgrade the power of your elemental attacks, yet they barely increase your stats at all. ie: one orange mask elevates health from 10 hp to 11 hp.

  • disqus_EewPxsM24D

    I Loved this trilogy i played it as a kid b4 i got Zelda…which is probable why i love zelda so much cuz Spyro used its accepts

  • RubyDragonCat

    OH this absolutely made my day. Yes, I’ve played Legend of Spyro. And the originals. And Skylanders…all three styles have their pros and cons.

    I actually grew up with Spyro instead of Zelda!

    • Bob

      Same Here! Spyro was on the first console I owned as a kid: the ps1. When I eventually got a gba, then a ds, and later on a wii, I transitioned to mario and zelda (although it wasn’t until I was around 12 when i got into zelda. WW was the gem that did it).

  • Mseevers95

    Legend of Spyro was the fist Spyro game I played and I love it.
    I also think if Zelda got VAs of the same quality as this game or Kid Icarus Uprising, in other words good VAs that people know (Mark Hamill, Steven Blum, Ben Kingsley) that have proven they can handle game dialog would be perfect choices.

    And on that note how awesome would Ganondorf be if he was voiced by Steven Blum?

    • Midna’s Sister

      Nu, voice actor of Optimus Prime >:D

      • Mseevers95

        Peter Cullen you mean? That would be cool.

  • Ordona

    I grew up with Playstation consoles, and I adored the Spyro the Dragon trilogy, particularly the second game if I recall correctly. I liked Crash Bandicoot, once I got a Wii and bought Galaxy I liked Mario, but nothing could beat the pure awesome-ness of being a purple dragon with a colour-changing dragonfly companion and breathing fire on everything. I haven’t played a Spyro game since the awful Enter the Dragonfly but I’m definitely intrigued to check this out. Spyro in Zelda style, it just sounds cool.

    • Bob

      Did you play Eternal night? my god that game was ridiculously hard.

      • Ordona

        No, I haven’t played any Legend of Spyro games after the first four. I’m definitely considering giving the trilogy a go though, it sounds right up my street. :)

        • Bob

          Make sure you don’t pick up Eternal night because it not only had an okay plot and bad reviews, the game will cause you to throw your controller at the tv because of its immense difficulty.

          • Ordona

            I’ll probably try the first in the trilogy if I can find a copy. If I like it I’ll have to decide if it’s worth the frustration to continue the story. >.<

    • Midna’s Sister

      Sparx: The very incarnation of evil.

  • Spirit Tracker

    Wait, if a game meets the minimum requirements to be an Action RPG, it’s automatically considered a Zelda clone? The name Legend of Spyro was chosen because this new trilogy focused on all of Spyro’s life, and how he became a legend. BTW: the comparison of the Deku Leaf and Loftwing was just bullsh*t, gliding has been a trademark move from Spyro ever since his first game, and the Dawn of the Dragon was released in 08, if anything Zelda “cloned” this mechanic in Skyward Sword.

    • Link_The_Ultimate_Chronomancer

      He said it wasn’t a ripoff: “there are enough differences to not only make it not a ripoff”. This whole series isn’t about ripoffs persay but about games that borrowed from Zelda. He just started the series with a blatant ripoff.

      • Spirit Tracker

        Oh, sorry, I’m sort of new to this empty elegy thing ^^’.

    • http://youtube.com/bastiantime bastian

      If you’re using the term “clone” to mean “trying to make money by only ripping off Zelda” then we’re not using the term in the same way. I do think that the Legend of Spyro developers used The Legend of Zelda as a blueprint for reinventing Spyro as an action-adventure rather than its platforming origins.

  • Emmy Melton

    “The Legend of Spyro” are the only Spyro games I’ve ever played. I thought they were pretty good… And now I know why. Everything mentioned in this makes perfect sense. So THATS why I liked it so much!

  • Hyrule’s Hero

    Alduin the dragon from Skyrim will kick Spyro’s ass any day.

    • http://marjimusic.com/nwtb Clockwerk Orange

      but alduin is an adult dragon. spyro is not, hes a teen.

  • Luke the Kokiri

    I hate dawn of the dragon on the wii… no offense spyro fans

    • Midna’s Sister

      Myuff, tis my favorate one, but mm’k. You have your opinion. IjustloveCynder.

      • Luke the Kokiri

        I just feel like the game is making me fly every 2 seconds, and with the flying controlling so awkwardly at times, i don’t wanna fly.

        • Midna’s Sister

          Ah, one of my favourate parts is the flying; I just feel so free.

  • Luke the Kokiri

    If there was a legend of sonic the hedgehog would you call it a zelda clone because of “the legend of” being in its name. No good sir, you would not.

    • http://youtube.com/bastiantime bastian

      If this hypothetical “Legend of Sonic” was created as an action-adventure game that took place is a mythical land and utilized Zelda-based puzzles and had a similar tone to Zelda… probably. :D

      • Luke the Kokiri

        Indeed…

  • Lupine Hero

    Oh, Eternal Night, why must you be so hard? You make my recommendations for this trilogy so complicated! No one gets the storyline unless they play you, but no one wants to because you’re too difficult! AAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!! (listens to Dreams theme to calm down)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?nomobile=1&v=7vITcGQebe8

  • http://www.facebook.com/anatara43 Amber Evans

    I loved that game!! I was thinking the other day that I should play it again. No wonder I liked it so much….it’s like Zelda :)

  • Pewycert

    Why is everyone saying The Eternal Night is so hard? I only beat it in about a week. I didn’t think it was too hard, and it was a ton of fun.

    • Bob

      Because so many people couldn’t beat it that’s for sure. Most people I believe failed at the blundertails in felmuth arena. I failed at the Ravage Rider.

    • Bob

      Also, many thought that the plot was pretty generic and kinda boring at times. Question: if Spyro can fly, why can’t he just fly out of fellmuth arena or fight the pirates when they kidnapped him in the sacred grove?

  • john

    “there are enough differences to not only make it not a ripoff…”
    (Empty Elegy: The Legend of Spyro)
    something seems wrong about this

  • tauntalus

    I only played New Beginning, but was still impressed by how they matured the series, a little like how Mega Man X did to the series. Still a kid’s game, but strong as an adventure for an older audience. Yes, it played like a zelda clone, but a really good one, having something to draw upon other than Zelda, creating a refreshing but similar game; once again, like Mega Man X (instead of robot masters and doctor light, Zero and robot animals)

  • Atheistbigred

    The original 3 spyros were great. Heck i still play them to this day. In my opinion Spyro fell when they made Year of the Dragonfly. That was the worst spyro game i have ever seen. The story was great and all, but the gameplay and graphics made me want to claw my eyes out. I lost all hope in spyro, then A new beginning came out. I laughed my butt off at the idea of david spade playing sparks. Sparks wasn’t a very talkative character and they made him into a sarcastic cowardly butthole.

    The Eternal night was by far the hardest Spyro game i have ever played. The enemies are brutal and if you drop your guard for a single second, you will regret it. I haven’t played the last one of the trilogy, but i am looking forward to it.

    • guest

      I totally agree with you here. Though I don’t think I will be picking up the last Legend game after the disappointment of the first two Legend Games. I much prefer the original series of Spyro games.

  • guest

    I have played the first series of Spyro games since they first came out and love them all. I can’t say I much liked the reboot- it was too serious for me, didn’t seem like Spyro at all.
    I don’t know about similarities being between Legend of Spyro and Legend of Zelda, I certinaly for one didn’t really feel any. But then I never related the two until reading this article. Though I do feel the Legend of Spyro was a way for Spyro’s owners to try and make the Sypro games into something that can contend with classics like Zelda- but they fell short in the epicness department that the Legend of Zelda series seems to do so well in all it’s games.

  • Stanley U.

    Actualy, I’m making a book about both the legend of Spyros and Elda called the legend of zyro on wattpad. If you like you can check it up to see what it’s like… : )