Start your holidays right with a gyros platter and a dragonfruit mojito

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (1999)

We could all do with a holiday, that’s for sure. That’s true at any time of year though, isn’t it? A holiday should be designed to destress you, but if you ain’t careful, then there’s a lot about holidaymaking that can distress you instead. Get your holiday booking very wrong, and it’ll make you wonder why you didn’t just hide behind your papers at work instead, where everything made sense and the teabags didn’t have strings on them.

First of all, and this is the bit I probably enjoy the least, is actually sniffing out a deal for yourself. Since you and I are “ordinary people”, this usually means finding a weeklong break somewhere, anywhere, with a bit of sun and hopefully not too many bottom feeders in the surrounding areas. I like to just find a website that takes care of everything all in one fell swoop – your flight, your accommodatin, your transfer, your bus fare home.

Such convenience costs a few quid extra of course, though that fits in nicely with my usual mantra to life which is to just throw money at the problem until it goes away and I don’t have to talk to anyone. If you start getting clever and decide to book your plane and your shoe-box-room separately, something will definitely go wrong, and best of luck arguing your case over the phone in Greek.

And God help you if you’re the one having to organise a holiday for a group of people, a stag-do or something similar. It really shouldn’t be that difficult, in theory – all you need from people is a picture of passport, maybe a bit of money up front, and an assurance from them that their harridan girlfriends won’t show up the last minute with a face like thunder and an express intention not to let their man have any fun. But even that is too much for a lot of people to prepare.

I think at a certain stage in life, people make that conscious decision about whether they’re gonna be organisers, or whether they’ll be the ones who fall in line, pay the money only when coerced and turn up to the airport at the very last minute on that fateful day, still slightly unsure about where they’re going or what’s going on. Guess which categoriy I fall into?

Then there’s getting through the airport. This is a real pain – thanks, terrorists – and the person in charge of organising the holiday, by their nature, is probably a hysterical type which means that if you don’t show up to the airport two hours before take-off, there’ll be big trouble. Two shagging hours? I think not. They only tell you that to keep you in the shops longer. Full of tat those shops anyway – stick to Burger King, or a Wetherspoons if you should be that lucky, and you can get tanked up at all hours of the day. When you’re in an airport, it seriously does not matter what time it is – just get it into you.

And do not turn up with checked luggage either, for God’s sake. Obviously that’s unavoidable if you are a) traipsing around America for a month or b) a woman, in which case, best of luck with that queue and the accursed luggage belt. I once had a bag go missing, which contained every single bit of my clothes, little panties and all. That feeling when you realise your boy isn’t coming through the gate and down the belt towards you is a horrendous one, believe you me. But it’s not as much of a pain as having to speak pidgin Spanish over the phone to by-the-book merchants, at God knows what phone rates.

The flight could be trouble as well. You’ll always have that niggling feling that this is the one that falls out of the sky, that’s a given. Best to get more drink into you and go completely doolally on the first day of your holidays, writing it off completely. That’ll make the crash painless, if you don’t make it. The plane won’t crash of course, but there might be some pretty dicey, Sharknado-style turbulence. Or worse, you might get caught alongside a stag party, where there’ll always be a giant inflatable penis floating around.

And then you finally land, and now you’ve got to make sure you don’t get robbed, you don’t get sick, you’re not surrounded by too many himey locals, all while hoping that the weather holds out longer than your current account, while obviously trying not to get yourself sunburnt. And if you’re going on a family holiday with kids in tow… God, lots of luck to you, and enjoy whatever beers you can get down you.

Holidays are great, but that’s a lot of things there that can go wrong. And you know how it is, some days everything just goes wrong, right from the very start. This is what happened to poor Spyro in Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage, a subtitle which was strangely renamed to Gateway to Glimmer in Europe, before being reverted back for the excellent Reignited Trilogy..

Anyway, having sorted out Gnasty Gnorc in the first game, Spyro fancies a break from the rain and grind and eyes up a nice stint of relaxation in sunny Dragon Shores. Too bad – he steps through a portal to begin his vacation but instead finds his holiday plans hijacked. All of a sudden, he’s conscripted into the fight against warmongering shortman Ripto. Ever the heroic type, Spyro immediately gets stuck into his new task, knowing that the dragonbeers on Dragon Shores will taste all the sweeter once he’s done.

Apart from that new premise, this game is much the same as the first Spyro, that beautiful hangover cure, with only a number of differences. First, every single level has 400 Gems, as well as a cute little story with stage-unique characters. So now the levels have more structure, and gives you something to shoot for, whether you’re helping a greedy hippo or an Irish fawn or a group of colourful baby turtles through various obstacles to get to the end. Beating level requirements grants you a talisman, which you’ll need to gain access to the next boss battle against Ripto and his crew. Typical MacGuffins, you know how it is.

Once Spyro buys the ability to do so from Moneybags, the local miser, Spyro will be able to climb walls and even swim through water, although the camera can get a bit turbulent and under the weather when Spyro’s submerged. The camera can do that every so often by itself in fact, since it seems to spend a lot of time buried right up Spyro’s backside – like that frightful machine will be for you when you’re drugged and your kidneys are getting harvested.

This camera doohickery only happens every so often though, and for the most part you’ve got more of the same as Spyro 1: an easy to follow adventure that’s colourful, looks pretty and has more of Stewart Copeland’s brilliant music, although none of his tunes made it onto The Amanda Show this time out.

On the whole, Spyro 2 may not have done much different, but nobody wanted it to. This game is like that yearly holiday when you’ve found a great spot – a fellow traveler or group you know well, a familiar trek through the airport, a flight that is a known commodity, and a welcoming people at the other end. It’s cosy, it’s familar, it’s exactly what you need it to be with no hidden, nasty surprises. That’s PS1 Spyro all over, and with the Reignited Trilogy available on all current gen consoles and often on sale for a steal, you really can’t go wrong. Just mind how much you drink in.

23 March 2021

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