Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs (GBA)
by Vivendi Universal

Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 11/06/2003

Spyro makes a great transition from the PSone to the GBA.

GZ Review Ratings:
Gameplay 7.9
Graphics 8.5
Sound 7.0
Difficulty Easy
Concept 7.9
Overall 7.9

Reviewer's Scoring Details

All Reviews for Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs

When Sony and Naughty Dog bailed on Crash Bandicoot in favor of something more adult, Universal Games snatched the property as quickly as they could. Shortly afterwards, Insomniac Games abandoned their Crash-esque franchise with similar goals in mind: create a new series with more of an edge. The abandoned franchise was Spyro the Dragon, flying, fire-breathing action/adventure for the PSone. With Crash already on board, Universal completed their collection with the addition of Spyro.

At their new home Crash and Spyro have had the luxury of branching out onto new game consoles. While GameCube has only seen ports of old Crash and Spyro games, Game Boy Advance has had brand-new Crash and Spyro games developed specifically for that platform. Crash worked great as a side-scrolling adventure game. Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs turned out a bit different. For starters, it's not two-dimensional. It's not three-dimensional either; it's somewhere in between. Spyro uses an isometric view. What's that? In simple terms, it means that the view is top-down and partially angled to give the game a Sonic 3D-style look. Another example would be the original Diablo, which also uses an isometric view.

The good thing about an isometric view is that it gives the player the perception that the game is in 3D. You're not just moving toward the top of the screen (as in a game like the original Zelda, which uses a top-down view), you're moving deeper into the world.

Spyro developer Digital Eclipse modeled the controls after the PSone version. You won't find many differences. The A and B buttons are designated to the jump and fire breathing actions. Holding the right shoulder button will cause Spyro to run fast with vase-breaking power. (Vases contain valuable items that must be obtained to complete the game. Most vases can be destroyed with fire, but others are impervious to flames. Spyro must therefore use his "head" the same way that Rex did in Toy Story 2 to break the vases.)

It's been a while since I've played the PSone and PlayStation 2 versions of the game, but at some point in the series a new kind of fire-breathing power was introduced. Actually, it wasn't a fire-breathing power at all, but that of wind. I know what you're thinking; Spyro is paying homage to Abe's Oddysee by using his power from within. That's not exactly the case. His wind power comes from his mouth just as his fire does. Fire is still Spyro's main form of attack, but he has also taken a liking to the power of ice. Apparently dragons have more abilities than was previously thought. Either that or they just have really strong breath mints. The ice breath enables Spyro to combat enemies (and helpless sheep) by freezing them. Then you can switch to fire and break the ice into tiny little pieces! Items will be left behind, and they're much more important than wool, so find some sheep and start freezin'.

Fans of the series will quickly discover that Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs is close to being the easiest game in the series. The puzzles/scavenger hunts are basic at best, making the game more suitable for young gamers who have very little prior gaming experience. You might have to hop around a small area and put out the flame covering 16 different books.

One serious problem this game has is its amount of dialogue. Virtually every non-destructive character in the game has something to say. I've seen this before in games geared at young children, and every time I ask the same question: why? Why would they do this? I've played numerous adult games that barely had an options menu, let alone dialogue. I don't have the patience to read a ton of pointless words, whether they're important to the game or not. I'm sick of every kiddie game trying so hard to tell a story. Just give me my objectives and get on with it. When I was a kid my favorite game had a few lines of dialogue. "We're sorry, but your princess is in another castle." That was plenty.

More likely than not, if you're old enough to be reading this review, you won't get much out of the game beyond a rental. However, if you're a parent looking for a game to pick up for your kids (who either enjoy or don't mind a bit of reading), Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs will likely put a smile on their faces. It plays a lot like the PSone version, so there isn't much of a transitioning period. Insert the game and play. That's the extent of it.

If you kids have never played a Spyro game before then you should probably get a PSone and let them try the versions for it first. They're pretty fun, and have been really popular with the younger crowd. Kids are more likely to enjoy Attack of the Rhynocs if they've played the other games first.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7.9
You've got flying, fire-breathing, platformer elements and frozen sheep that can be shattered. What more could you want? (Alright, so you've got a list, big deal!) Spyro's gameplay is good, its only notable drawback being that it's easy. And it has some dialogue issues. But other than that kids won't have any reason not to play this game. Don't buy it over Mario or Crash, one of my favorite GBA titles but do be sure and check it out.

Graphics: 8.5
Even as the N-Gage swarms in on the ancient technology that's stored inside the GBA, game developers find a way to create a few more graphically impressive titles. Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs has excellent, fully rendered sprites that give the characters a much more solid look. The backgrounds are slightly bland in color, but detailed in objects and in dimensions. The cartoony fire effect is also kinda cool.

Sound: 7
Decent music, annoying sound. Not one to listen to, but not necessarily one to cover your ears for either.

Difficulty: Easy
Some kids might find it difficult, but anyone with experience even children as young as six will not be too challenged by Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs.

Concept: 7.9
Digital Eclipse must've spent a lot of time analyzing this game on the PSone. They took everything that's good about the PSone versions and ported as much of it onto the GBA as possible. When I say "port," I mean a gameplay feature, like Spyro's various attack styles. This is not a rehash quest the levels are all new!

Overall: 7.9
Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs is a great game for the kids. It's a bit too simple for the teen and adult crowd; though I'm sure a few of you will snatch the game from your little brother or sister for a bit.

The isometric view gives the game a closer-to-3D feel than any other game on the GBA. Even Banjo-Kazooie, which used a similar gameplay technique, is not as effective at pulling it off as Spyro is.

The various dragon powers, like ice and wind, add more puzzle variety to the mix. Kids will have some trial and error ahead of them, especially if they've never played a Spyro game before. In that case they'd be unaware of what each power does. This game should keep 'em occupied for a while no matter what though. A great rental, a good buy.



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