Spyro: Year of the Dragon

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Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Spyro Year of the Dragon PS1 US cover.jpg
Developer(s) Insomniac Games
Publisher Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date(s) USA October 24, 2000
Europe November 10, 2000
Genre(s) Platformer
Rating(s)
ESRB:ESRB E.svg - Everyone
Console(s) PlayStation
Mode(s) Single player
Media Disc
Input PlayStation Controller
Wikipedia icon.png This page uses content from Wikipedia (view authors), and falls under the compatible Creative Commons license.

Spyro: Year of the Dragon is the third game of the Spyro the Dragon series. It was developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The game was released for the PlayStation in 2000. It is the last Spyro game that was developed by Insomniac. In 2018, the game and the previous two games were remade for Spyro Reignited Trilogy. The original PlayStation version was not released in Japan.

Named for the animal of the Chinese zodiac, Year of the Dragon follows Spyro as he travels to the Forgotten Realms after 150 Dragon Eggs were stolen by an evil sorceress. He travels across thirty different worlds gathering gems and eggs. Upon release, the game received positive critical response; on Game Rankings, Year of the Dragon is one of the top 20 highest-rated PlayStation games of all time.

Story[edit]

The game starts with the dragons celebrating the Year of the Dragon, an event that occurs every twelve years where new Dragon Eggs are brought to the realm. During the celebration, a cloaked rabbit girl, Bianca, invades the Dragon Realms with an army of Rhynocs and steals all of the Dragon eggs. Spyro, Sparx, and Hunter go down a hole to find the thieves and recover the Dragon Eggs.

Pursuing the thief, Spyro discovers a realm once inhabited by the dragons, but long abandoned and forgotten, now known only as the Forgotten Realms, ruled by a queen called the Sorceress, and under firm control of an army of Rhynocs. Of the few who defy the Sorceress' rule, the first one that Spyro encounters is a kangaroo named Sheila. She is locked within a cage, but Spyro pay a fee to Moneybags to release her.

As Spyro travels through each realm, acquiring aid from local inhabitants and bartering with Moneybags for passage to new areas, Bianca abducts and imprisons Hunter. It is later revealed that the Sorceress is seeking not the baby dragons themselves, but merely their wings to concoct a spell that can grant her immortality. Once Bianca finds out she feels sorry for the baby dragons, and defects to side with Spyro, Hunter, and the others who defy the Sorceress.

Celebrations resume after the Sorceress' defeat, although Spyro cannot find Hunter. With help from his friends, Spyro eventually locates Hunter out on a date with Bianca and laments about another hero "falling" for love.

It is later revealed that the Sorceress survived her previous battle with Spyro. She is found in the Super Bonus World, awaiting Spyro on her UFO. The two of them battle again, each in a UFO, above a pool of hazardous liquid. Spyro eventually manages to shoot down the Sorceress, and she drops into the liquid below. After this, it becomes apparent that the Sorceress had the final dragon egg, which hatches a Siamese pair of dragons named Yin Yang. The baby dragons then return to the Dragon Kingdom.

Gameplay[edit]

Gameplay screenshot of Spyro approaching two Rhynocs in Sunny Villa

Spyro: Year of the Dragon's gameplay makes few deviations from the previous two games, especially the second game, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!. There are four Home Worlds, which are the hub areas, and they have portals that lead to a specific realm. Spyro's main goal is to collect Dragon Eggs, which have been scattered across Home Worlds and realms. These Dragon Eggs are either hidden or are rewarded for completing a certain objective. To proceed to the next Home World, Spyro must complete five realms, have at least a certain number of Dragon Eggs, and the Home World boss.

Gems are another collectible item, and they are abundantly scattered across the Home Worlds and realms. Spyro must obtain these gems to bribe a bear named Moneybags to release a captured critter or to progress further into an area. Each Home World has a critter that Spyro must rescue, and that critter is found in front of a portal leading to a realm in which the player plays as that critter instead of Spyro. The critter must be freed before that level can be accessed.

Spyro has several abilities, including charging, flaming, swimming, gliding, and headbutting. Most of the enemies are rhinoceros-like creatures called Rhynocs, and some are only vulnerable to certain moves. There are Powerup Gates, which Spyro can walk through to receive a powerful ability for a short period of time. During this, a bar at the top-right of the screen shows the time remaining. These abilities could be either a stronger flame, full flight control, or invincibility. Like the previous two games, there are certain areas where Spyro can supercharge, which involves Spyro charging at a rapid speed, allowing him to break certain objects along the way.

Spyro's health is measured by his companion Sparx, a dragonfly who changes color and then disappears after taking progressively more damage. If Spyro is without Sparx and takes another hit, he loses a life and restarts from the previous checkpoint. Spyro can defeat fodder to release a butterfly, which Sparx can eat to regenerate a unit of his health. There are four Sparx levels, one in each Home World, and as their name suggests, the player plays as only Sparx, who is the focus of these levels. Sparx levels are shown from a bird's-eye-view and involve shooter-like gameplay. In these levels, Sparx must collect keys to open gates along the way, shoot several enemies and collect the gems they leave behind, collect keys to open gates, and eat butterflies, some of which grant him a powerup. At the end of each level is a boss that Sparx must defeat to obtain a Dragon Egg. Furthermore, completing a Sparx level unlocks a special ability for Sparx, such as an extra hit point or retrieving more distant gems.

To achieve 100% completion, Spyro must collect all 150 Dragon Eggs and 15,000 gems. In doing so, a secret world known as the Super Bonus World is opened. It has several gems and features harder variations of minigames from previous realms.

Anti-piracy[edit]

Zoe's message if an illegal or hacked copy of the game is detected

Spyro: Year of the Dragon has two layers of copy-protection: one to detect a PlayStation modchip, in which case the game stops playing, and another to detect attempts at bypassing the first copy protection method. In the latter's case, the game plays normally for a few levels up until Spyro talks to Zoe at the balloon. She breaks the fourth wall by informing him that he is playing a hacked version of the game. From this point on, various changes occur during gameplay, specifically done to make the gameplay more frustrating and difficult for the player.

Several of the changes occur in random parts of gameplay, such as Spyro losing Dragon Eggs that he had collected, gems vanishing from levels, and portals, balloons, and rockets taking Spyro to a random location. In European versions, the game's language also changes randomly. Sparx's color remains green, so his health cannot be increased. An exception is if Spyro gets an extra life without Sparx accompanying him, in which case Sparx returns at full health. Whenever Sparx eats a butterfly, he disappears. Moneybags charges Spyro more than once to access the critter levels, even if they have already been unlocked. Lastly, during the final boss, the game suddenly exits back to the first world, Sunrise Spring Home. When this happens, Spyro's entire progress is erased, forcing him to restart his adventure.[1]

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

Character Description
Spyro The main protagonist of the game, Spyro goes on an adventure to collect the Dragon Eggs and defeat the Sorceress.
Sparx Returning from the previous two games, Sparx once again allows Spyro to withstand extra hits and brings nearby gems to him.
Hunter A cheetah and a friend of Spyro, Hunter returns to help Spyro on his journey. In some levels, Hunter hosts a series of skateboarding challenges, which Spyro can go to by entering a Challenge Portal.
Bianca A young rabbit girl and the love interest of Hunter. At first, she worked for the Sorceress but later joined Spyro and Hunter.
Moneybags A greedy bear with an obsession for gems, Moneybags was hired by the Sorceress to "keep charge" of certain things in the Forgotten Realms. Like the previous game, Spyro must pay Moneybags to get through some levels. He must also pay Moneybags to release critters that are imprisoned in front of their own level. At the end of the game, Moneybags appears in Midnight Mountain. Spyro can humorously chase him down and ram into him repeatedly, to regain all of his gems and a Dragon Egg. If Spyro gets the six eggs in Midnight Mountain and get Moneybags' Dragon Egg as well, the atlas shows Midnight Mountain as having '6/5' Dragon Eggs.

Critters[edit]

The critters are a group of four characters, one in each Home World, that have been imprisoned for defying the Sorceress, and are guarded by Moneybags. Spyro can bribe Moneybags with gems to release a critter of the Home World he is in. The critters each have their own playable levels. In each boss battle, a certain critter aids Spyro. The critters are featured in various missions and minigames, many of which are only accessible from a Challenge Portal.

Character Description
Sheila Found in Sunrise Springs, She is an Australian kangaroo with an exceptional jumping ability. She can also kick with her feet. When freed, she kicks Moneybags in the stomach.
Sgt. Byrd Found in Midday Gardens, he is a penguin and military soldier with a slow waddle. He can fly as well as shoot homing missiles and launch bombs. When freed, he is questioned by Spyro why he didn't shoot his way out of the cage. He responds that he had 'limited ammo' and promptly shoots Moneybags off the platform.
Bentley Found in Evening Lake, he is a smart and strong yeti with a gentle demeanor who wields a club made of ice. He can hit things with this club or rebound snowballs. When freed, he demonstrates his verbose nature by calling Moneybags a stream of wordy insults and hitting him over the head with his club.
Agent 9 Found in Midnight Mountain, he is a space monkey who carries a laser gun and is obsessed with killing Rhynocs. He assists the same Professor from Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, who can only be seen in Agent 9's level and in one of the final cutscenes. In an odd exploit of the game, paying Moneybags to free him isn't actually required; accessing the last boss only requires eggs and not the participation of someone from every realm, Spyro can just ignore his level and he will mysteriously show up to help him anyway in the last fight.

Bosses[edit]

Character Description
Buzz A giant toad-like character with a pair of strong legs. When pushed into lava, Sheila stomps on him to deal damage.
Spike A tall, muscle-bound monster who uses a laser-like weapon to shoot at Spyro. His main attacks are trying to crush Spyro under his fist or shooting plasma balls at him. Later on in the fight he can pick up the ammo Sgt. Byrd drops and briefly power up.
Scorch A giant winged beast that can produce a forcefield to protect himself. He is defeated via the powerups Bentley throws.
Sorceress The final boss and main antagonist, the Sorceress can conjure up some powerful magic when necessary. There are two times she must be defeated: the first time is reached by collecting one hundred dragon eggs to gain entry into her lair and the second time is a saucer battle for the last dragon egg. In the first fight, Agent 9 helps out even if Moneybags was not paid for his release.

Mini-Bosses[edit]

  • Bluto and his Shark Sub - Fought in a giant tank of water. He is a clever and skilled in using his submarine.
  • Sleepy Head - Fought in a dome like room surrounded by a piranha filled moat. He is lazy and has no desire to defend his territory, but he gets mad if Spyro wakes him up though.
  • Boxing Bully Yeti - Fought by Bentley in a boxing ring. The Yeti from Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! has made a complete recovery and is causing havoc once again.
  • Double Dragon - Fought in a fireworks based area. With the double power up portal from Spyro 2, perfected Spyro uses it not to fight sheep, but two other dragons this time.

Sparx Level bosses[edit]

Fodder[edit]

  • Sheep in Enchanted Tower
  • Chicken Diving in Seashell Shore
  • Frog in Sunny Villa
  • Gull in Sheila's Alp
  • Peacock in Cloud Spires
  • Slug in Molten Crater
  • Ant in Bamboo Terrace

Worlds[edit]

There are four Home Worlds, and each are named after a time of day. The later ones have more dangerous environmental obstacles, although none of them have enemies. Each Home World has four realms, a Sparx level, a protestor level, and a Speedway level.

Name Description
Sunrise Spring Home The starting homeworld for Year of the Dragon. This world is set during the morning with lush green hillsides, small woods and lakes.
Midday Gardens Home The second homeworld. Midday Garden is set during the day with a brilliant blue sky overlooking wide gardens and large towering castles.
Evening Lake Home The third homeworld is set during the evening inside a large lake containing parts of a submerged tudor-style castle.
Midnight Mountain Home The final homeworld set at night on top of a high mountain. One of the most dangerous homeworlds featuring multiple clifftops linked by bridges and small castles.

Levels[edit]

All four Home Worlds have 400 gems; the first three also have 5 Dragon Eggs, but Midnight Mountain Home has 6 Dragon Eggs.

No. Level Gems Dragon Eggs
Sunrise Spring Home
1 Sunny Villa 400 6
2 Cloud Spires 400 6
3 Molten Crater 400 6
4 Seashell Shore 400 6
5 Mushroom Speedway 400 3
6 Sheila's Alp 400 3
7 Boss level: Buzz's Dungeon None 1
8 Sparx level: Crawdad Farm 200 1
Midday Gardens Home
9 Icy Peak 500 6
10 Enchanted Towers 500 6
11 Spooky Swamp 500 6
12 Bamboo Terrace 500 6
13 Country Speedway 400 3
14 Sgt. Byrd's Base 500 3
15 Boss level: Spike's Arena None 1
16 Sparx level: Spider Town 200 1
Evening Lake Home
17 Frozen Altars 600 6
18 Lost Fleet 600 6
19 Fireworks Factory 600 6
20 Charmed Ridge 600 6
21 Honey Speedway 400 3
22 Bentley's Outpost 600 3
23 Boss level: Scorch's Pit None 1
24 Sparx level: Starfish Reef 200 1
Midnight Mountain Home
25 Crystal Islands 700 6
26 Desert Ruins 700 6
27 Haunted Tomb 700 6
28 Dino Mines 700 6
29 Harbor Speedway 400 3
30 Agent 9's Lab 700 3
31 Boss level: Sorceress's Lair None 1
32 Sparx level: Bugbot Factory 200 1
33 Super Bonus Round 5,000 1

Gallery[edit]

For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Spyro: Year of the Dragon.

Trivia[edit]

  • The first production run of Spyro: Year of the Dragon featured lenticular artwork on the case cover.
  • Several of the skateboarding tricks in the skateboarding minigames are named after bosses from the first Spyro the Dragon (such as Gnasty Gnorc).
  • The game's release date is astrologically correct; 2000 was the year of the dragon in the Chinese zodiac.
  • A level in the game, Desert Ruins of Midnight Mountain, parodies the Tomb Raider franchise. In it, Spyro is sent to rescue a girl named Tara who is "raiding the Tomb of Stone Golum". Tara is dressed like the series' protagonist Lara Croft. In Desert Ruins, Sheila's missions, "Krash Kangaroo I" and "Krash Kangaroo II" is a parody of the Crash Bandicoot franchise.

External links[edit]

References[edit]