|Spyro: A Hero's Tail|
|System(s)||PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox|
|Preceded by||Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly|
|Followed by||The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning|
|Series||Spyro the Dragon|
Spyro: A Hero's Tail is the fifth console game in the Spyro series, and the ninth game in the series in all. Developed by Eurocom, it was the first game in the series for the Xbox, as well as the second game in the series for the GameCube and the PlayStation 2.
The game introduces a new antagonist, Red, a former Dragon Elder banished years before the events of the game, and sees the protagonist, Spyro the Dragon, attempt to defeat him with the aid of his best friend Sparx, Hunter the cheetah, flying penguin Sgt. Byrd and mole Blink, who are all playable.
Gameplay in A Hero's Tail is largely the same as in previous Spyro games, but with various tweaks to Spyro's abilities and the game's controller mapping (for example, the right analog stick/C stick now directly controls the in-game camera, a standard mapping for many action and platform games), and less of an emphasis on gems; they now act strictly as the game's currency, and are no longer important to completing the game with 100%. There is also a considerable amount of backtracking in the game, with important items only reachable with certain abilities acquired later in the game; some items also require a certain number of light gems (itself an important item) to be acquired.
Spyro begins A Hero's Tail with most of his standard abilities including gliding and fire-breath. Spyro's gliding mechanics have been tweaked from previous titles, with the addition of a double-jump and the ability to hover downwards by releasing the analog stick.
Similar to previous titles, Spyro also acquires multiple breath types to use throughout the game, including electricity, water, and ice; each element has different characteristics and uses throughout the game—for example, electricity can defeat metal-armored enemies, and water is used primarily to solve puzzles. In addition to these elements, Spyro also acquires a projectile-like "secondary breath" attack with each element, which can defeat most enemies, but the player can only store a limited quantity of secondary-breath attacks. Spyro also gains the ability to jump off of walls and swing from poles, similar to other platforming game series such as Prince of Persia and Jak and Daxter, allowing him to traverse obstacles and reach new segments in a level. Also, Sparx, Spyro's dragonfly companion, returns as a personification of Spyro's current health level, and assists in collecting nearby items for the player.
As well as Spyro, four other characters are playable. Sparx, other than helping Spyro, is also playable in his own rail shooter-style minigames. Blink, an anthropomorphic mole, explores levels set in underground mines and caverns, where the player is tasked to locate and destroy various dark shards with explosives. Sgt Byrd, first introduced in Spyro: Year of the Dragon plays host to several flying-themed minigames in which the player is given a set amount of time to locate and fly through (or destroy) various targets and enemies in a level. Hunter - first introduced in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! - has two standalone portions of the game to himself however, now being able to scale certain walls and attack and snipe enemies using his bow and arrows.
These characters have their own missions, usually being located somewhere in Spyro's levels. Clearing the missions for these three characters awards the player a Dragon egg or a light gem, depending on the difficulty.
As well as the returning playable characters, numerous other characters return as well. The Professor appears for his first console appearance since Ripto's Rage (apart from a brief appearance in Spyro: Year of the Dragon). Moneybags also returns, but is no longer the upperclass salesman of past games, but is now a merchant with an Eastern European accent. Gnasty Gnorc also makes his first appearance in a Spyro game since the original. The game also introduces Ineptune, an evil sea queen, who alongside with Gnasty is working with the game's main antagonist, Red - a fallen Dragon Elder who is using Dark Gems in a plot for revenge.
It has been a peaceful time in the Dragon Realms since Spyro's last adventure. Suddenly, a mysterious dragon named Red is using a group of life-draining stones called the Dark Gems to poison the life of the world. Not only that, he is enlisting Gnasty Gnorc from the first game and his army of Gnorcs to do his dirty work. After freeing a Dragon Elder, Spyro destroys all the Dark Gems in his realm, and defeats Gnasty Gnorc. Eventually, with the aid of the Professor, makes it the Lost Cities realm, destroying all Dark Gems there and defeating Ineptune, a powerful mermaid like being. Making it to the Icy Wilderness realm, he is attacked and captured by a mammoth working for Red, but Hunter and Sparx, working together, free him, and Spyro defeats Red in battle. Red escapes to the Volcanic Isle, where Spyro and the Professor follow him. After entering Red's laboratory underneath the volcano, Spyro discovers that the Professor has been captured and forced to turn Red's Gnorc army into robots to make them stronger. After accidentally turning Red into a robot with the Professor's machinery, and after the Professor accidentally increases Red's size, Spyro battles Red and defeats him in battle. The Professor then returns him to normal, and shrinks him down to a more manageable size.
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