The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night (Nintendo DS) Review

By Karn Spydar Lee Bianco 15.11.2007

‘The Eternal Night’ is the second installment in the ‘Legend of Spyro’ trilogy of games which began with ‘A New Beginning’ late last year. The Nintendo DS version – which we will be examining in this review – has been developed by Amaze Entertainment, whilst Krome Studios handled its home-console counterparts. Although the plot continues on from where ‘A New Beginning’ left off, the rest of the game has undergone a thorough overhaul and now features a full-blown 3D game engine, as opposed to the 2D/3D hybrid used in its predecessor. Of course, whether or not this is a good thing for the series is something you’ll have to read on to find out!

As we mentioned, The Eternal Night follows on from A New Beginning, in which Spyro bested the evil dragon Cynder only to discover that she was in fact a dragon much like himself (small and purple) who had simply been corrupted by too much power. As a result, Spyro soon realizes that Cynder was merely a puppet for the ‘Dark Master’, an evil being who was banished by the Elder Dragons many years ago and is seeking to be resurrected on the Night of Eternal Darkness, “when the Celestial Moons come together in a great eclipse”. Spyro sees the Master in a series of nightmares/visions and so begins a search for an all-knowing dragon known as ‘The Chronicler’, who he hopes will have some advice about confronting the impending darkness.

As you start each new level the camera gives a flyby tour of its contents, starting from your destination and ending at your current position. Whilst level design is actually one of the game’s stronger points, its draw-distance is not, so it’s nice to have an idea of where you're heading even though you won’t be able to see much of it at any one time from there on in. Controls are pretty standard for a 3D platformer; Spyro can: jump, double jump, glide and roll/dodge to get around, as well as perform melee and breath attacks to take care of any enemies. Unfortunately, combat it one of the game’s first truly problematic areas. With just one melee button available, most battles end up as little more than semi-frantic button bashing. That is, until the enemy suddenly flies into the air and waits to be ‘juggled’…

Screenshot for The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night on Nintendo DS

Juggling takes the form of a mini-game which forces players to drag the stylus across the screen in order to finish off the last of an enemy’s life force. There are two problems with this idea; firstly, because the rest of the game is controlled almost entirely with buttons alone, you either have to keep putting the stylus away before getting it out a again soon afterwards, or you have to keep a hold of it some other way (we personally found that the mouth was quite a good solution). However, even if you can look past the constant swapping around, the whole concept still has far more of an impact on the flow of gameplay then it should do. Of course, none of this would be nearly as problematic if it weren’t for the fact that combat seems to take up the bulk of the game.

Screenshot for The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night on Nintendo DS

You see, when you defeat an enemy a new one spawns in the same position. This process can happen up to four or five times, by which time you will almost certainly be completely bored of the endless button bashing and disruptive juggling mini-game. And just to add insult to injury, Amaze even decided to create an entire three-part level (and gameplay mode) dedicated entirely to fighting off wave after wave of opponents in an arena setting. With no blocking ability and limited energy for unleashing breath attacks, you’ll soon find yourself avoiding encounters altogether purely because the rewards don’t justify the effort. But that’s fine, right? This is a platformer after all; surely there are other interesting aspects to enjoy before we have to write off the game entirely? Well, yes and no, but mainly no.

The game’s actual platforming sections are fairly enjoyable, if only because of the level design, which stays varied throughout. But there isn’t much in the way of hardcore platform-jumping and there are equally few incentives to explore or deviate from each level’s rather rigid structure (not that such a thing is possible very often given the linear nature of levels). Whilst the original Playstation Spyro titles featured oodles of gems to collect, horde and spend on opening new areas later on, Eternal Night simply uses gems to restore health, fury (used to unleash one-off powerful attacks) and spirit. Although the latter can be used to upgrade Spyro’s various breath techniques, such gems are mainly collected by defeating enemies, and we already know what a chore that is.

Screenshot for The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night on Nintendo DS

So what’s left? Power Crystals are what’s left. Shards of these items are scattered throughout certain stages and must be collected so that they can be used in puzzles which, when completed, open up blocked paths. Puzzles take place inside Reflection Prisms, which each contain a number of light emitters. The light from said emitters must be re-directed using the aforementioned crystals (which are really just prisms and mirrors, etc.) so that it can reach a certain colour-coordinated target. All of this is done with stylus, but it’s not nearly as disruptive as juggling because the puzzles only appear once or twice per level. Over the course of the game you will encounter a large number of these puzzles, but there are also a stack more (80 in total) that can be accessed in a puzzle mode of their own. Some of these are pretty tricky and will certainly get you mind whirring, but they ultimately feel a little out of place in the Spyro world.

There is still one element of The Eternal Night that we have yet to discuss: boss battles. Whilst these sound interesting enough on paper (you get to face off against massive, screen-filling dragons that breathe fire ‘n stuff) they are in fact extremely frustrating, thanks to the fact that your opponent can swap between being vulnerable and invulnerable with absolutely no forewarning (or visual clue). This is particularly frustrating during your first few attempts to discover what the hell is going on, because when you die during a boss encounter you have to repay the entire level leading up to that point all over again! Oh, and speaking of irritating features, did we mention that the game is glitchy as heck? That’s right, just when you think that fighting another slew of uninspiring foes couldn’t get any less inspiring, you find yourself stuck in a wall, or frozen solid, or battling against the wayward camera that doesn’t want to let you deviate from the game’s set path for even a second.

Screenshot for The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Amaze Entertainment’s attempt at recreating the 3D Spyro games of yore on a handheld system is commendable, but unfortunately the final result leaves a lot to be desired. Whilst the game’s core platforming sections show real promise, the repetitive combat, frustrating boss battles, linear level design, game-killing glitches and distinctly short playtime all let the side down. The Eternal Night feels like a game that was pulled out of development a few months too early, and as such we just can’t recommend it. You might want to try the GBA version instead.

Developer

Amaze

Publisher

Vivendi

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date Out now   

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