The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night (Wii, PS2) - Wii version reviewed.

We appreciate that Vivendi Games graciously sent this game to us to review.

The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night is the second in a trilogy of the new Legend of Spyro games. This trilogy is in essence a restart of Spyro's story; the series has been around since the PlayStation release in 1998. Spyro is a small purple dragon with many special powers. In particular, he has the ability to unleash varying attacks using each of the four different elements. The intro of this game takes place right where the previous game, A New Beginning, left off, though all of the power you gained in the last game is mysteriously absent.

What kind of game is this, and how does it play?

The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night is a 3D third person action/adventure game where you control Spyro the dragon and defeat many of your foes on your quest to save the world from the dark powers that abound. You generally see Spyro from behind, though not always, and you jump, glide, slash, and breath fire or other elemental attacks on your enemies to defeat them.

Each area is generally pretty linear, as you progress from one area to another. There are occasional detours which usually involve complex platforming that offer you some reward: either a feather for the special features, or a mask to increase your maximum health or mana. In general, each level consists of hoards and hoards of enemies which need to be beaten up, as well as a few of the aforementioned jumping puzzles.

As you progress, you come to new areas, and there are often interesting story-telling cut scenes in between each. Those who are more familiar with the storyline, or played A New Beginning would probably get more out of them than I did.

Throughout the adventure, there are other story sequences where Spyro finds himself in an odd dream-like world where he unlocks more powers within him. These include the four elemental abilities mentioned before. Each element adds not only a breathing ability, but also some alternate attack. For example, fire has you breathing fire, or the alternate attack which is to dash attack your enemies. After defeating many enemies and gathering certain kinds of crystals from them, you can also perform a fury attack that does lots of damage to those around you. Too bad it's so rare that you can perform one. You also discover your ability to slow down time temporarily. This is particularly handy when performing jumping puzzles, especially since some of them are nearly impossible without it. It also seems to help against certain foes, as you can move slightly faster than normal while time has slowed down.

One area where this game has it out for the player is with the jumping puzzles. Often, without completing the jump to an optional area, you will miss something, and sometimes that includes really valuable powerups. Well.. these jump puzzles are very frustrating at times. It's not just that you have to double jump to reach anything, or that the timing has to be just right for the second jump to register.. it's that so many of the ledges that you land on give you around one half second before they dump you off to the ground (or deadly pit) below. Fortunately, this game offers you infinite lives...

Which you are going to need. In all of my twenty-plus years of gaming, I have rarely found such a frustratingly difficult adventure. It's not just that it's frustrating, or difficult. I enjoy a good challenge. And I am really stubborn to beat games that I really enjoy, to accomplish some goal. It's that the challenge is built into a game that doesn\'t reward the player with enough good gameplay to keep going. Don\'t get me wrong. It's not a bad game per se, it's just not so much fun that I feel like I have to keep going. Each level is filled with hoards of enemies, with many waves in between each area where you can resume when dead. That means that let's say there are twenty enemies until the next turn in the bend, and you have killed eighteen of them, but die because some of the other guys gang up on you when you are down, because when you are knocked down, the enemy can attack you, though that privilege does not necessarily extend to your enemy. Anyhow, upon that likely death, you resume from right where you left off - at the beginning of the wave. So, you now have twenty monsters to kill. Again. Furthermore, you can play for thirty minutes, or even as many as forty-five without the game auto-saving for you. And the only way to save your progress is through the auto-save system, despite what it looks like in the menus. So, if you don\'t like to play for at least forty-five minutes at a time, don't bother. And on top of all of that, there are the jumping puzzles. As mentioned before, they are often absolutely brutal, with the infamous sadistic ledges. This sort of thing happens constantly throughout the game, starting as early as the first or second puzzle.

I rarely get upset at games. I also very rarely get angry to the point of having to hold myself back from foul language or hitting something. This game did all that and more. I found myself punching my chair next to me to relieve stress. Can I make this any clearer? How would you like to die over one hundred times through the course of the first few chapters? How about forty times through one boss fight? I could go on. I generally have a high tolerance for failure and difficulty, but unfortunately this one exceeded it in my opinion. If you have any fear of failure, this game is not for you.

What about the Wii controls?

This game offers two different control modes: Wii remote and nunchuck combo, and the classic controller. The classic controller most likely plays like the PlayStation 2 version of the game. I found that it was pretty accurate for the most part, with a few moves particularly difficult to perform. The Wii remote mode works pretty well, though it often does not have the same accuracy as classic controller mode. To perform a basic attack, you either press a button or wiggle the Wii remote. There are also a few special ones that are activated with waggling the nunchuck attachment.

I found that the Wii remote control scheme was a bit more immersive, though there are a few times where you may like the classic approach. Since the nunchuck's analog stick controls movement, I think it works pretty well, and it is worth a shot before going for classic controller mode.

How are the Graphics?

This game has average, PlayStation 2 level graphics. The animation is all smooth for the most part, and the cut scenes look nice. The only glitch I noticed was in a few places I would get a random white flash. It could have been something with my audio/video setup, but other than that not too much wrong with it.

I was really disappointed that the developers pretty much copped out of making a decent camera. Instead, they default it to behind Spyro, and they allow you to manually adjust the camera, with either the digital pad on the Wii remote, or the right analog stick on the classic controller. Having to rotate the camera while hoping to attack enemies behind you is for more common than I would like.

What about the Sound?

The music was fine. I didn't look to listen to it outside of my time with the game, but it certainly isn't bad. The sound effects are satisfying for the most part. I was a bit surprised that for some of the cut scenes I had to crank up (or down) the volume to be consistent with what I was comfortably hearing otherwise. The best part of this game must be the voice overs. They got some real Hollywood voice talent to do the voices of these characters. The voice of Spyro is Elijah Wood, which brings many flashbacks of Frodo and the One Ring to this person who has seen a bit too much of the Lord of the Rings movies. They also have the talent of Billy West, Gary Oldman, and others. It's just too bad that this game is not more enjoyable, because I feel like this great talent was wasted.

How Appropriate is this game for Christians?

For the most part, the game is fairly family friendly. It does have references to fairy-tale type magic, as you are a fire (or ice, etc.) breathing dragon. You also do lots of beating up of bad guys, like orcs, ogres, various animals like warthogs, and so on. There is no blood or gore to speak of.

With all of this said, this is the first game I have ever reviewed where I just could not bring myself to complete it. Given that, there could be other things in this game that I am not aware of, though it does seem rather unlikely that there will be and real surprises in terms of inappropriate content. If I find anything, I will update this review.

Overall & Conclusion

It's really too bad that this game is so ridiculously challenging that it takes a rather advanced skill set to complete, and yet it's targeted mostly for pre-teen children. Though it's not without some value, I would definitely recommend a good, long rental period before picking this one up to see if it's what you like, and be prepared for some long gaming sessions waiting for that next save spot.

Appropriateness Score:

Violence 6.5/10
Language 10/10
Sexual Content/Nudity 10/10
Occult/Supernatural 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

Appropriateness Total: 44/50

Game Score:

Game Play 12/20
Graphics 8/10
Sound/Music 10/10
Stability/Polish 5/5
Controls/Interface 3/5

Game Score Total: 38/50

Overall/Average Score: 82/100

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