The Legend of Spyro
Spyro returns to handsets once again - can Legend surpass VU Mobile's previous effort?
The Legend of Spyro from Vivendi Games Mobile is a significant improvement over the company's last mobile Spyro platformer Spyro the Dragon, but a convoluted control scheme (oddly present in nearly all mobile 2D platformers) ultimately limits the fun factor.
Spyro does outshine its platforming peers in game structure, however. Levels are accessed via an overhead map, and once a level has been cleared, it's possible (and indeed, encouraged) to revisit previously-cleared levels. A level-select feature should really be a must in all mobile adventure titles, thanks their inherent value as time-killers to consumers.
In Spyro's case, this design decision also significantly increases the value of the package. The game itself isn't really any longer than any other mobile platformers, but every level contains hidden power-ups that can't be accessed until Spyro has earned skills later in his quest. Only by going through the levels at least twice can Spyro completely max out his health and magic bars.
Breaking up the gameplay into flying, platforming, and boss stages also increases the replay value. I found myself much more willing to pop into Legend knowing I could quickly hop into a boss battle or flight stage, instead of the experience being pure platforming.
It's unfortunate that the simplistic (but enjoyable) platforming is hindered by its overly-complex control scheme. By the end of the game you'll be using nearly all twelve keys on the number pad! It makes you wonder whether mobile developers would be capable of creating a platformer on the GBA, with it's two face buttons. 1, 2, and 3 jump left, straight up, and right, respectively. 4 and 6 handle left and right movement, while 5 fires Spyro's projectile weapon. 7 and 9 attack left and attack right, and 8 is used to look down. * and # are used to toggle between Spyro's various projectiles.
It wasn't until literally the game's final level that I stopped wrestling with this setup. Why do we need attack left and attack right? Why can't we have a single attack button and have Spyro attack in the direction he's facing? Ditto for jumping. I have never played a game on any other platform but mobile that had three buttons designed for jumping in different directions. Do we really need a separate button to cycle through projectiles, so we can sift through the four of them forwards and backwards?
Control issues aside, Legend of Spyro is still ultimately an enjoyable experience. The levels are varied and full of big, colorful enemies. The boss battles are among the best I've seen on mobile and bring back lots of 16-bit enemies. The game's replay value is also top-notch. Legend might be one of the better mobile platformers I've played lately, but that isn't necessarily saying too much. So far, I haven't seen any proof that a truly great platformer is achievable on this medium.
What's Hot: Good replay value
What's Not: Convoluted controls