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NGC/PS2/Xbox Preview - 'The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning'

by Thomas Wilde on April 24, 2006 @ 1:22 a.m. PDT

Discover the true origin of Spyro as he evolves into a living, breathing weapon of explosive destruction! In The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning, Spyro embarks on an epic quest to uncover his roots and realize his destiny.

Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Vivendi
Developer: Krome Studios
Release Date: October 2006

Spyro's newest venture is entitled A New Beginning, and for good reason. With this new game, the reset button's been hit on Spyro; all past adventures have been forgotten in favor of giving one of the hardest-working mascots in video games a fresh start.

In this case, it means shifting the onscreen action's focus from cutesy platforming to surprisingly intense action. Krome Studios, the dev house that gave the world Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, has set out to make Spyro's newest adventure feel like "playing through a Pixar action film." (The exception is the DS version of A New Beginning, which is under development by Amaze Entertainment, and was not available for preview.) Towards that end, they've equipped him with an arsenal of new combat moves, including a highly customizable "weapons system" based off his trademark dragon's breath.

A New Beginning reboots the series' storyline, beginning with Spyro when he's literally still in the egg, and taking him through his first adventure, a run-in with the black dragon, Cynder. Along the way, you'll learn all about his roots and what shaped him into the hero he'll eventually become, as well as how he became friends with his dragonfly sidekick. This is a more linear, story-focused adventure than A Hero's Tail,

You'll also discover that the new Spyro is, well, extraordinarily dangerous. Spyro's received a serious power-up in this game, combining powerful melee attacks with an assortment of breath weapons. Spyro can strafe now, as well as wield his horns and tail on the ground and in the air, utilizing ground, launch, and aerial combos to bring the pain. You can also burn breath meter to use one of his breath attacks, which draw upon one of four elements: fire, ice, earth, or electricity.

The collectible gems of past Spyro games have been reconfigured in A New Beginning as power-ups, restoring Spyro's health and breath meter, or giving him experience points. Those points can be spent to upgrade his breath weapons, turning them from respectable attacks to horrifying barrages of pure death. His ice shards will evolve into something very like a chaingun, while the earth shot weapon – a powerful burst of energy that knocks enemies around much like a shotgun – acquires a high rate of fire. Spyro has never wrought havoc quite like this before. (... although, just to be perfectly honest, Ratchet has.)

Further, that's before we discuss his fury moves, which are basically screen-clearing smart bombs. By spending the contents of his fury meter, Spyro can unleash columns of flame, titanic lightning strikes, or other powerful elemental explosions, destroying or damaging all of the enemies onscreen at a time.

You'll also play through a number of mini-games, such as a speedway-based mini-game and an unlockable arena mode. These, the combat system, and Spyro's customizable breath weapons lend A New Beginning some of the replay value that past games in the series have honestly lacked.

It's a departure from the kid-friendly hop 'n' bop platforming of past outings, but The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning may be the shot in the arm that this series needs to achieve real success. It'll launch in October 2006.

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