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The ninth Spyro the Dragon game, released on the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Xbox in 2004. This is the second home console Spyro game to not be developed by Insomniac Games, instead being made by Eurocom and Travellers Tales, and was published by Vivendi Universal Games.

There's a new dragon in town, a former Dragon Elder called Red, and he's not exactly happy with the other dragon elders and the realms they inhabit. He and his army of Gnorcs and other baddies plant Dark Gems in the Realm; Crystals that radiate dark energy, warping their environment. Spyro is tasked by the Professor to track them all down and break them, freeing the realms of their Dark power, and return the lands to their splendor. In the midst of this adventure, Egg thieves have kidnapped dragon eggs from the nursery too! The Professor and his gadgets, as well as Hunter and Blink too! By now, Spyro's just gotten used to the whole "world-saving" thing—now if only he could figure out what Red's problem is!

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As with Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, it makes use of unlockable breath types; Fire (to kill enemies), Electric (to activate electrical nodes), Water (for puzzles), and Ice (to freeze enemies). The Professor also flexes his knowledge more, as you get to use some of his inventions to help you, such as supercharging, the Ball Gadget, temporary invincibility and more. The game also makes each of the realms much bigger. Each realm has multiple levels to them, which themselves house mini-games and Play-as-Hunter sections, instead of using portals to get to smaller specific worlds from hub area's. The gameplay is best described as a simplified Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, but in a Wide Open Sandbox.

It was succeeded by the Nintendo DS game; Spyro: Shadow Legacy, which continues the plot of this game, with most of the cast returning. This is the last home console game for Spyro, and the second-to-last game overall in the original continuity before the franchise got rebooted into The Legend of Spyro series.

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This game contains examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Since her debut in Year of the Dragon, Bianca does not appear in this game, but does appear in this games' sequel; Spyro: Shadow Legacy.
  • Ability Required to Proceed: Learning new moves from the Dragon Elders is absolutely mandatory to complete the game, as many sections are cut off from access by a specific roadblock or gate where you need a specific move to bypass it, such as the Wall Jump—In fact, the Ice Citadel where you learn the move outright forces you to learn it in order to leave the very area with the Dragon Elder that teaches you the move—the game locks Spyro in place when he falls down into his chamber, meaning a player can't sequence break past it just hovering over to the nearby entrance.
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: As part of the games's redesigning of characters, the dragon elders wear a gem collar, and often glasses too. Pretty much all of the NPC's wear accessories to varying degrees of modesty (such as Ember wearing her Heart Necklace, or the various Gnorcs wearing weather-specific attire), and only a minority of NPC's remain unclothed (Spyro, Flame, the Spiders and the Man Eating Plants come to mind).
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • Gems gotten by killing airborne enemies, killing Rock Monsters, or by shooting out-of-reach/ very far away chests will automatically lock onto your location, so you can receive them risk-free, instead of the gems falling to unobtainable places (the ground which you cannot access, or in the case of Cloudy Domain and Molten Mound, into the Abyss and Lava respectively).
    • Opening locked chests causes an animation to play out, which locks you out of controlling Spyro/ Hunter, and which also makes enemies idle for the duration. This was clearly done to avoid losing health while opening a chest, as you would otherwise be being unfairly hit by enemies that you literally cannot counteract until the Chest is opened. This does lead to an amusing oversight, where if you own a Key and go and fight a Gnorc that's guarding a locked chest, you can go near the chest, the animation will start to play out, and the Gnorc will just blankly stare at you.
    • You can buy items from Moneybags' from Remote Shop Pads, which are found in a number of places in each Realm. This includes places where it makes no sense for Moneybags to be able to set them up to begin with. Averting this would otherwise make backtracking tiresome to do, especially in the Volcanic Isles, which is essentially one long level with multiple gaps and hazards to traverse.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Played with. Unlike past games, gems are not treated as collectibles, rather used as the main currency to buy items from the Main Shop and Remote Shop Pads Moneybags has set up in each Realm. Gems on the ground never replenish, but after reloading an area (or when you get knocked out), enemies respawn and their gems respawn with them. Remote Shop Pads has everything in the store cost more to purchase (about 10% more), but the Teleport Pass always cost 100 gems, regardless of where you purchase it from, so it's often cheaper to buy a teleport pass and warp back to Moneybag's main shop, buy want you want at the baseline price, and teleport back to the area you were originally at. Useful at the start of the game, where gems are harder to get without constant Save Scumming, but once you get midway through game, the increased price doesn't matter as much.
  • Affably Evil: Not evil, but Moneybags' personality in this game is more jovial and lighthearted, often poking fun at himself, as well as lightly jesting at Spyro's naivete of his store prices. Compared to his other appearances where he's intentionally obstructive of Spyro's goals on a regular basis, Moneybags in this game actively helps you, as purchasing from him is treated as if her were a legitimate (albeit excited about gems) merchant, not an all-out gem hoarder as he was previously. To wit, the one Cash Gate he owns is part of a tutorial on using keys, and he never uses the tactic again to corner off area's like he does in the original trilogy. The meanest thing he says to Spyro in this game is "Ah Spyro, my favorite Wallet!" in the shop, and that's about it.
  • Amplifier Artifact: It's implied the Dragon Elders wield them in their staffs. Ineptune has a Power Crystal on her belt that traps Aqua the water fairy, Gnasty Gnorc traps Amp the electricity fairy and uses them in his mace, and Red has a Dark Gem that traps Freezia, an Ice Fairy.
  • An Axe to Grind: Some of the Gnorcs wield these as their weapon of choice.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Collecting all ten pink or red dragon eggs allows you to replace Spyro's character model with either Ember's or Flame's, respectively (Alternatively, you can use a Cheat Code to unlock them earlier). The different model has no bearing on the gameplay or story at all, and can lead to some rather weird situations like Ember hitting on Ember or Flame thanking Flame for rescuing him.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: In the original trilogy, NPC's and dragons wore no clothes and either stood on all fours, like Spyro does, or upright on their hind legs. Here, most of the cast all wear clothes to varying degrees, and are all bipedal for the most part.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • As with other games in the series, Sparx can pick up gems a set distance in front of you, such as gems on pathways. However, while this can be useful, most of the gems you pick up in-game are given in batches when you defeat enemies, meaning Spyro is the one normally picking them up, rather than Sparx, simply for being directly on top of them.
    • There is no lives system in the game, meaning you can die however many times you wish and will respawn at the last save point.
  • Arrows on Fire: Hunter's limited supply of fire arrows can be used to destroy strong chests and breakable walls.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Hunter has been given more detailing, such as spots and a furry white chest, while downplaying his Totally Radical tendancies.
    • Sgt. Byrd has been given an R.A.F pilot makeover, complete with metal plane wings and helmet.
    • The level detailing has improved, with a mixture of flowers, plants and realm-appropriate props (Winter lodges in the Frozen Village for example).
    • Thanks to the graphical improvements the Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox offers over the PS1, The Professor now looks like an actual mole. Whereas the original design was just one flat color, now he has dark brown fur and light brown skin. His Big Ol' Eyebrows are more prominent here, as well as his glasses being translucent. In addition, while he's still very short, his proportions are a bit more normal here. The original trilogy has the Professor's head be much bigger than his entire body, but now they're evenly sized.
  • The Artifact: Sparx's ability to "point" in the direction of gems was removed here, as gems are treated as currency, not a finite collectible.
  • Aside Glance: Spyro is very fond of doing this whenever cutscenes occur.
  • Bag of Spilling: Spyro loses all of his abilities from the previous games that aren't his flame breath or charging. Sparx's ability to point in the direction of gems is also removed since they're used as regular currency here instead of a finite collectible needed for 100% completion.
  • Bathtub Scene: Talking to the Ice Princess after turning on all the heaters mentions now that she's all warmed up, she can go and have a bath, and tells Spyro to go away and "do more important things". Curiously, the premises doesn't have a bath, and she'll never disappear from the level either.
  • Blinded by the Light: Dragonfly Falls has this happen to spiky vines near a Dark Gem. Once the gem is destroyed, the light forces the vines to retreat underground.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: Its safe to say that in the boss fights against then, Ineptune and Red's overconfidence is their weakness. Ineptune can only be harmed when she gets frequently gets close enough to the platform Spyro is on to spray acid at him, leaving the crystal on her belt buckle a sitting duck for Spyro to charge into and damage her, and she never wises up from this. Red, meanwhile, is immune to all of Spyro's attacks and can only be harmed by exploding crates that he sometimes summons into the arena—like with Ineptune, he never wises up that he's putting himself at a disadvantage with this.
  • Boss Arena Recovery: Not only are there butterflies surrounding the areas (with more appearing depending on your death count), but the game will actually save your progress in the middle of the fight when you hit the boss enough times, so if you die, the boss' health remains one-third or two-thirds gone. The only time the game expects you to finish the boss in one go is with the final boss.
  • Boss Corridor: Almost every boss fight is preceded with this type of corridor. In Gnasty Gnorcs case, it leads deep into his cave/ arena.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Pretty much every character except Blink breaks the wall to pieces:
    • Zoe explicitly tells Spyro at the start of the game that "his progress is saved every time she hits him with her wand."
    • Ember asks Spyro if the dark gem next to her would make a good engagement ring. Spyro then turns directly to the audience with an Oh, Crap! look.
    • Moneybags has an animation when you purchase from him that has his window slowly get smaller, with him pushing the sides back to their original place, meaning he's aware the Game's UI exists.
    • In response to a dude-infested, near indecipherable line from Otto the Surfer Dude, Spyro will look at the camera and tell the audience to "just say no".
    • After narrowly avoiding having to listen to a long story from Tomas the Elder Dragon who "takes a really long time to tell stories", Spyro looks at the camera and says "Whew, close one."
    • Hunter knows that Spyro isn't dead after he's been defeated by the Mammoth and captured... because if he was, the game would have reloaded the latest save file.
    • The bosses are aware of their own boss phases, with Gnasty and Ineptune commenting on how they keep getting defeated.
  • Breath Weapon: Available in Fire, Electric, Water and Ice flavors.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: Crocovile Swamp.
  • Bubble Gun: Water breath has a Secondary Fire which shoots a gravity affected bubble. This bubble can only damage two enemy types, both of which are small and float high in the air. It's about as useless as it sounds.
  • Bubbly Clouds: Cloudy Domain, a flying city above Coastal Remains.
  • Characterization Marches On: In addition to being Promoted to Playable, Hunter is significantly more capable in this game than in Spyro 2 or Spyro 3, wielding a bow and arrow that he uses more than once. His eagerness to help Spyro is also amplified here.
  • Call-Back: The Professor talks about Gnasty Gnorc to Spyro at the start of the game, with Spyro mentioning that he defeated Gnasty Gnorc a few years back...
  • Canon Foreigner: Ember, Flame, and the Dragon Elders, though a lot of the latter dragons have names based on dragons that appeared in the first Spyro game.
  • Cash Gate: Surprisingly Downplayed, as the only one in the game is technically run by Moneybags, it's just a locked gate part of a tutorial, in which he tells you to go to his shop and buy a lockpick to open it. After that, you'll only buy shop items from him optionally, though you do need to buy lockpicks from him into order to unlock chests containing Light Gems and Dragon Eggs (Moneybags isn't behind the locking away of these collectibles either).
  • Cave Behind the Falls: There's one in Hunter's section of Dragonfly Falls, and another in the secret area behind the Light Gem door in the same level.
  • Concept Art Gallery: Unlocked by collecting all of the white dragon eggs.
  • Collect-A-Thon Platformer: You collect Light Gems, retrieve stolen Dragon Eggs, and destroy dark gems.
  • Cosmetic Award: Collecting ten flame eggs or ten pink flower eggs unlocks the ability to play as Flame and Ember respectively. Considering these can only be unlocked pretty late in the game, and dragon eggs are not in obvious locations, it's a fairly lackluster reward.
  • The Cameo: Bartholomew can be seen in a picture stuck on Bentleys' fridge.
  • Creator Cameo: The word "Eurocom" is spelled out with fridge magnets in Bentley's home. Eurocom is one of the developers of the game.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Spyro talks to the Ice Princess while on a mission to heat up the Ice Citadel:
    Ice Princess: Please heat this place up! It's colder than a witch's-
    Spyro: I'm on it.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: In this game the charge, breath attack buttons (which were the same throughout the previous four games) are switched for no reason at all. Similarly, if you're used to the modern era of the right stick controlling the camera without southpaw, then prepare to be disappointed.
  • The Dark Side: As the Dragon Elders (eventually) tell to Spyro, Red became evil because he wanted more power for himself, and became so resentful of the Dragon Order that he wanted to destroy the realms and rule over them.
  • The Ditz:
    • Lily the Mermaid in the Sunken Ruins, as she refuses to believe that Spyro isn't some sort of fish, calling him a "Dragonfish", or a "Fishy-Dragon-Guy".
    • Elder Titan is not right in the head, often mishearing words; "about him" becomes "Jim", and he asks Spyro mid-exposition if he likes Origami. He seems to have a very troubled memory, to say the least.
  • Deadpan Snarker: This game has Spyro's snark turned way Up to Eleven. He pretty much only speaks like this.
  • Dem Bones: The skeletons in Gloomy Glacier which can't be harmed by Hunter's arrows.
  • Destruction Equals Off-Switch: Destroying Dark Gems removes their influence, and returns the affected part of the realm to normal. Curiously, this is inverted in Molten Mount and Dark Mines, where destroying Dark Gems opens up new pathways and areas that are intentionally already a part of the existing architecture, meaning the Dark Gems help you at certain points late in the game.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Gnasty Gnorc: Final Boss in Spyro the Dragon, the very first boss in A Hero's Tail. Ironically, he subverts Degraded Boss since he takes more hits to kill here, and puts up more of an offence by using electricity magic.
  • Denser and Wackier: The game is known for being a bit on the silly side compared to the rest of the games.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Invoked in the Dark Mines by Blink, who feels fine for being in the Dark Mines. Spyro points out that it's because they're already underground, so his fresh-air-a-phobia isn't being triggered. Blinks very next line isn't a response to this, but his generic "Shall I explore below ground?" reply he uses in other realms, which is made completely redundant for the above reasons.
  • Distressed Dude: Spyro gets captured by a mammoth in Frostbite Village, while gloating about the usual boss structure, in which the mammoth then averts Talking Is a Free Action, and Spyro has to be rescued by Hunter.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: After unlocking the Professors Teleporter, Spyro points out having two teleportation machines seems redundant, as Moneybags' Remote Shop Pads and the Professors Teleporter seem identical on the surface. The Professor points out his teleporter travels between realms, Moneybags' Remote Shop Pads just act as local teleporters. Spyro isn't so convinced, and refuses to believe there's a difference, asides from the size of the machines.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Almost none of the cast wear shoes, with The Professor and Moneybags being exceptions to this.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Blink and Spyro meet, Spyro asks Blink if he knows the Professor. Blink pretends to get mad and asks Spyro if he thinks all moles know each other, though Blink then says the Professor is his uncle.
  • Door to Before: Appears often, sometimes multiple times in a single hub world. Every portion of a level loops back round to the start. Ineptune and Red have ones that connect back to the main corridor in their respective boss battles.
  • Drop the Hammer: Armored Gnorcs wield these.
  • Dynamic Loading: This game ditches the portals and "Spyro flying through the air" loading screens in favor of slow moving lifts, long tunnels and other dynamic loading tricks. A more conventional Loading Screen is used when travelling between Realms or using a Remote Shop Pad.
  • Easy Level Trick: As soon as you get to Molten Mount, stop using fire breath, and switch to using Ice Breath instead. It has all the necessary benefits of water breath (killing fire-forged enemies), and it lets you bypass the armor on gnorcs by freezing them before they can react.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Red has one, and the final levels have you infiltrate it.
  • Elemental Powers: You have Fire, (good for killing non-armored enemies, and killing sheep) and then you unlock Electricity breath (used to activate certain electrical nodes for puzzles and moving about), Ice breath (to freeze enemies) and Water (to do certain puzzles and slow enemies down).
  • Elite Mook: The robo-gnorcs in the Dark Mines and Red's Laboratory are this in general, but the roboticized gnorc—archers definitely qualify for this; while they're easy to take out up close, they fire their laser guns surprisingly fast in stark contrast to how shot their normal selves shoot their arrows, they have a long range of fire, and they are scarily accurate with their shots to boot, making them a major pain in the butt to deal with.
  • Emergency Energy Tank: Healing Butterfly Jars can be bought at Moneybags' Shop.
  • Equipment Upgrade: You can buy permanent upgrades for Sparx; The "Extra Hit Jar" which increases Sparx's health count by one (from 3 to 4 before leaving Spyro), and the "Keychain", which lets you hold three keys at once, instead of just the one.
  • Eskimo Land: Icy Wilderness/Frostbite Village, which are inhabited by Eskimoles.
  • Eternal Engine: Dark Mine and Red's Laboratory, complete with Mecha-Mooks.
  • Everyone Knows Morse Code: Mergatroid the Maintenance robot. He says "11011010110110101!"note  to Spyro, and immediately claims he was talking to someone else.
  • Exposition Fairy: Zoe at the start of the game, who tells you about saving the game. Trina is the fairy you'll see the most, however, giving you tips on the game as you play, such as how many Dark Gems to shatter in each Realm, what to collect, information on certain doors, and so on.
  • Fireballs: Fire breath's Secondary Fire. The Man-Eating Plants in Crocovile Swamp also shoot them, as well as most flying enemies.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Spyro's breaths now include Fire, Ice and Lightning (and water) variants.
  • Free Rotating Camera: The game has camera controls mapped to the right analog stick rather than the shoulder buttons as they previously were in the first three games. Because of this, the camera can now be tilted up and down, as well as left and right. This allows the player to look down ledges, pits, and other places for gems and such. Though the games' camera controls for Spyro are southpaw (inverted) by default, and you cannot change the Y axis (but you can change the X axis), which can lead to some Damn You, Muscle Memory! if you're used to, say, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Moneybags has installed Remote Shop Pads everywhere, which includes places that he, by all rights, should not be able to set them up in; such as the Volcanic Isles and Red's Laboratory. Of course, if this was averted, then you'd be traipsing back to the main store constantly, which isn't fun.
  • Genre Savvy: The game's general tone, the characters are significantly more self-aware than in previous entries, with the game lacking a fourth wall as they make direct mentions to other videogame tropes.
  • The Goomba: Strangely, Huge Gnorcs serve as this, being the most common enemy in the game that you face early on; despite their imposing size, their reaction time is very slow, their range of attack is limited to whats standing directly in front of them, and their girth and stationary movement makes them sitting ducks for either Spyro's charge or breath, and they are by far the quickest and easiest enemy to take out.
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: The Ice Princess has them on her ermine-trimmed gown.
  • Giant Spider: A type of enemy in the game. They turn around and shoot bits of web at you. Occasionally you encounter webbed areas which will spawn an infinite amount of them.
  • Girly Run: Spyro's walk cycle looks more like prancing this time around.
  • Global Currency: Some gems are worth more than others; Red Gems are worth one gem, Green Gems are worth 5 Gems, Purple Gems are worth 15 Gems, and Yellow Gems are worth 100 gems.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Gnasty Gnorc reveals his red polka-dot boxers when he's goaded into swinging so hard that his staff/club sticks into the ground. More humiliating is the fact that this is his weak point. Strangely, in his first appearance, he wasn't even wearing pants.
  • Green Hill Zone: Dragon Village.
  • Grimy Water: Can be found in Ineptunes' lair, as well as in certain parts of Sunken Ruins. You need the Invincibility Gadget to swim through it.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: It pops up on occasion, though mostly related to flame/ lava/ gross Grimy Water particles being a bit larger than they look.
  • Hurricane of Puns: A lot of the names are puns, see Punny Name.
  • Homing Projectile: Electric breath's Secondary Fire works like this.
  • Hub Level: Each of the first three Realms have one; The Dragon Kingdom (containing Crocovile Swamp and Dragonfly Falls), Lost Cities (which contains Coastal Remains and Cloudy Domain), and Icy Wilderness (Which houses Frozen Village, Gloomy Glacier, and Ice Citadel). The final Realm (Volcanic Isles) is just a succession of its levels in order (Molten Mount, Dark Mines and Red's Laboratory).
  • The Hyena: Teena the Hyena. She laughs even while sad that her home burned down. Talking to her after she gives you the quest makes her go into full Mood Whiplash, and notes that she has lost everything and everyone around her, while still laughing uncontrollably, and quite clearly upset about everything.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: There are golden chests sprawled about the levels that require a key to get into, as they are otherwise impervious to your attacks.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Dragonfly Falls has one that leads into pirahna-infested waters, so be careful!
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Ice breath: It has all the useful upsides of water breath (killing fire-forged enemies), it lets you bypass the armor on gnorcs by freezing them, and it's quicker to kill such enemies to boot. There is almost no reason to not switch to ice breath as soon as you acquire it by defeating Red for the first time. The only enemy it cannot freeze are the Eskimoles in Frozen Village (who wear big coats), but you can just charge into them anyway, and they'll die.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Water breath: You cannot kill most enemies with it, only stunning them, which at that point, you may as well use fire or electric breath instead. The only real use is powering specific types of machinery. Like with Ice Breath, it does however, kill Fire-forged mooks in the Volcanic Isles....and that's it.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Light Gems. They power the professors gadgets, but can also be used to access specific areas in a level cornered off by Light Gem Gates.
  • Interface Spoiler: Once the player enters the final area of the game, one of the area's objectives is to defeat Mecha-Red, making the twist of the final battle very obvious.
    • A more minor example exists in the third realm. The objective is to defeat Red, but the item percentage screen reveals there are ten more Dark Gems outside of this realm, giving away that there is another realm and that the first confrontation with Red won't be the last.
  • Internal Homage:
    • The Rock Monsters in Molten Mount seem to be directly referencing the same monsters from Fracture Hills seen in Ripto's Rage. They are near-identical design-wise, they sound the same, they both hit you with hammer-shaped objects (Axes in Ripto's Rage, Clubs in A Hero's Tail), and the way you kill them (push them into Lava) is identical here too.
    • The Magma Falls Top Ball Gadget section has clearly been inspired from the trolley section in Breeze Harbor, also from Ripto's Rage, given that all the obstacles are timing-based, as well as certain stations requires the pulling of switches to proceed. Thankfully, with Zoe being at set intervals saving your progress, it's not nearly as frustrating in terms of difficulty, as you're not expected to complete it in one run, so it avoids being a Difficulty Spike for most players.
  • Intrepid Merchant: Moneybags' Remote Shop Pads are scattered everywhere, even in places where both logically and story-wise, it makes no sense for him to be able to set them up. Of course, it's of the few Acceptable Breaks from Reality this game employs, because otherwise traipsing back to the Main shop in the realm wouldn't be nearly as fun.
  • Irony: The critters in Cloudy Domain are... Chickens. Yes, the birds that are well known for not being able to fly are somehow strutting all over a flying city. They look as out of place as you'd expect them to be.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: In rare situations (such as the Sunken Ruins), Professor will give you access to a pad that turns Spyro completely invincible for a short period of time, allowing him to swim through acidic water or wall-jump between boiling hot to the touch pipes.
  • Jiggle Physics: Averted with Lily the Mermaid, as her animations for her breasts are done with baked-in textures.
  • Jump Physics: The game uses these:
    • Double Jump: Spyro, Hunter and Blink. Spyro needs to be taught how to do it by Hunter, though this is one of the first things you learn.
    • Wall Jump: Spyro learns the Wall Kick Move from a Elder Astor, but it only works in very specific areas. Blink can do this by default.
  • Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: Teleport passes always cost 100 gems, irrespective of if they are purchased from the Main Shop or a Remote Shop Pad elsewhere in the Realm.
  • Kill It with Fire: Pretty much how you kill most of the enemies in the game as Spyro. Armored enemies need to be charged first to remove their armor plates, then be set on fire, and the fire-forged enemies in Molten Mount are impervious to your fire attacks.
  • Kill It with Ice:
    • Falling into ice-cold water or being frozen by Red makes the former freeze you to death, with Spyro briefly looking around helplessly.
    • Ice Breath lets you freeze enemies, and charge into them to kill them. The Eskimoles in Icy Wilderness are immune to ice breath, while some of the mooks in Molten Mount like the fire hawks are impervious to fire and electricity attacks, and so need to be taken out with either water or ice breath instead.
  • Kill It with Water:
    • Water Breath is only really useful against fire-forged mooks, such as Fire Hawks. Otherwise, it's used for puzzle solving.
  • Laser Hallway: Some of the rooms connected to the Celestial Showroom have them, with one room requiring you to fly over two moving lasers, and three static barriers to get to a dark crystal, and another requiring you to a similar thing on a raised moving platform to get a Light Gem. The hallway leading to Red's lair is also protected by lasers that need to be carefully traversed.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Being the last major installment of the classic era Spyro games, the game has substantial differences from previous entries. The art and music direction is heavily overhauled, the hub world structure is replaced with a more open-world game structure, and gems are no longer a permanent collectible and now serve as common currency. The tone is also significantly Lighter and Softer than the edgier original trilogy.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Molten Mount and Magma Falls.
  • Level-Map Display: Holding Right Bumper on the controller will bring up a map of the level you're in. This shows the teleport pads, and how much of the level you've discovered (black is undiscovered, brown is where you've been). This same map is also used for when you use a Teleport pass. Boss arena's are blanked out.
  • Lighter and Softer: Arguably the most lighthearted Spyro game in the entire franchise, Classic, Legend, or otherwise. The plot is tamer, the characters and environments are more colorful and Looney Tunes-esque, the dialogue is much more self-aware and humorous, and so on.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The standard way to defeat enemies using ice breath.
  • Logical Weakness: The robot mooks in Dark Mines and Reds Laboratory naturally don't take well to Spyro shocking them with his Electric breath, as it stunlocks them right in place until they go kaput. Oddly enough, spraying them with Water breath doesn't short them out like you'd expect—Red presumably forced Professor to waterproof his roboticized troops armor—though Ice breath makes very quick work of them.
  • Man-Eating Plant: A few enemies like this appear in the first Realm. For some reason, they can shoot Fireballs.
  • Marathon Level: In a manner of speaking. The last world's levels are all interconnected, so it's a lot longer to play through them all back-to-back than just tackling one at a time like the other worlds.
  • Metroidvania: Has some light elements of this. Unlike the classic series, all the worlds in the game are interconnected, and right from the bat there's a good amount of areas to explore. Some areas require certain powers obtained in other areas to be explored, and said areas are more so based around exploration than solid objectives or follow a linear path like the Classic trilogy, with dark gems, dragon eggs, and light crystals often being in fairly well-hidden places that, again, sometimes requires certain abilities obtained in other places to get.
  • Meta Guy: Spyro, Hunter, Moneybags, really the entire cast are more meta that usual.
  • Minecart Madness: Magma Falls Top has one, except you're in the Ball Gadget instead of a minecart, though minecarts do serve as obstacles.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: Light and Dark Gems. Light Gems need to be collected, Dark Gems need to be destroyed.
  • Money for Nothing: Unlike the past games, you can get an infinite amount of gems from killing enemies, looting chests, as well as finding them on the floor, instead of the game having a fixed, finite amount of gems per world. Gems are given to you at such a high rate that it's possible to, by the end of the game, buy all the upgrades except the double gem power up, max out your elemental breath ammo, buy three keys and a keychain, and buy a butterfly jar, and still have a gem total that goes up into the hundred-thousand range. There are some rather pointless upgrades Moneybags sells, such as "The Shockwave", which, despite being the most expensive upgrade Moneybags has, it doesn't have the range to really justify its price, the "Double Gems Powerup" is made largely pointless due to the liteny of gems around the place, and you can go the whole game without ever needing to use the sub-shots the elemental breaths provide, which makes increasing and restocking their ammo by buying them from Moneybags also rather pointless. Of the upgrades that are worth your time, there's only really five items that are useful for you to buy on your adventures;
    • Keys, to open locked gates and chests, and are affordable to buy pretty much any time in the game.
    • The key chain, which lets you hold three keys instead of one. Also pretty cheap, and is a permanent upgrade.
    • The extra hit, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, letting you survive an extra hit of damage. This is also a permanent upgrade.
    • The butterfly jar that lets you refill your health without having to find butterflies to restock health.
    • Teleport tokens, to help you traverse a given Realm faster, and makes backtracking significantly quicker.
  • Mook Maker:
    • There are some huts in Coastal Remains that spawn natives indefinitely, a few web holes in Crocovile Swamp, which will spawn an infinite number of spiders, and an Eskimo Hut that will infinitely spawn Eskimoles in Frozen Village.
    • The Mecha-Mooks by Red and an unwilling Professor. By the time you get to the Dark Mines, Gnorcs from all over the realm are being subject to Unwilling Roboticisation. Part of your mission in Reds Labaratory is destroying the Dark gems that power these machines.
  • Money Multiplier: You can temporarily double the value of gems... by purchasing an item using gems. While this can be useful in areas where the player knows a lot of gems can be found, such as areas with multiple Strong Chests, the uses for this item are severely limited, and overall everything useful from the shop can easily be bought without it.
  • Gem Grinding: It's possible to go into an area, kill all the enemies in that area, get save-zapped by Zoe, and then reload the last save. This respawns all the enemies in the area, so it's a very reliable way to get gems fast in the early levels, where Gem scarcity is more of an issue. This tactic becomes less efficient by the time you reach Icy Wilderness, as you'll be finding more gems than you can spend.
  • Mook Carryover: The Gnorcs initially subvert this for the first world, before playing it straight for the remaining three worlds: Gnasty Gnorc leads them for all of Dragon Kingdom as he did in the first game, but after he's taken out of the picture, Red takes over as the Gnorcs' leader.
  • Mood Dissonance: When Teena the Hyena asks Spyro to kill the Rock Monsters that destroyed her home, she's actually quite upset about the situation, but because she's constantly laughing, it completely throws off the otherwise-sad mood. Talking to her again amplifies this.
  • Motion Blur: When you use the speed boost powerup in the Sergeant Byrd Speedways, Motion Blur is employed when you go faster.
  • Mucking in the Mud: Falling into swamp or mud will cause Spyro to sink.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The Invincibility Gadget works likes this. You have temporary invincibility after stepping on a designated silver pad. You can swim through Grimy Water and walk on Lava.
  • No Fourth Wall: The fourth wall is particularly lacking in this game, with several characters often addressing the player directly, or hang lampshades on specific video game clichés.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Any collectibles found or chests opened remain collected and opened respectively, which saves the need for backtracking to get the collectibles again. Also, any mission-critical enemies killed will remain dead if you reload the last save, or if you revisit the area.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Dark Mines and Red's Laboratory is filled with Mecha-Mooks and Bottomless Pits over hard-to-reach places, Steam Vent Obstacle around every turn, all wrapped in corridors of Malevolent Architecture.
  • No-Sell:
    • Armored mooks are immune to attacks from your fire and electric breaths, though a charge attack will quickly take care of this. Ice Breath is so powerful that it completely bypasses having to break their armor altogether!
    • While the Ice Breath will freeze almost any enemy in the game, the Eskimoles in Icy Wilderness are completely immune to its effects—it won't even stun them. Strangely, other enemies throughout the level do not have this advantage.
    • The flying mooks in Cloudy Domain are, oddly, immune to the effects of the Ice Breath as well.
    • The robot mooks in Dark Mines and Red Laboratory are completely immune to Spyro's Fire breath, though Electric breath is handy against them and Ice Breath makes very short work of them.
    • The Rock monsters in Molten Mount are notably immune to all four of Spyro's breath attacks, and can only be defeated by charging them enough until they get knocked into nearby pools of lava. And it goes without saying that the enemies actually made of fire throughout the level won't even react to Spyro's fire breath.
    • Red himself is immune to Spyro's breath attacks and can only be hurt by exploding crates—at most, he'll just jolt in pain, but it won't actually damage him or even stun him.
  • Notice This:
    • Sunken Ruins has a stylized Target that makes up its roof. Similarly, the Tiki huts in Coastal Remains and the Eskimo Huts in Frostbite Village also have a target shape on their roofs to prevent enemies spawning. These are shorthand to tell players to use your horn-dive, which is first seen on Target Chests, which are impervious to most of your attacks, except from hitting the massive target on the top with your head.
    • Ineptune has a Gigantic Purple Crystal on her belt. Spyro does an Aside Glance during the opening boss cinematic to get the message across to the audience that yes, you need to hit it to defeat her.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Lily the Mermaid in Sunken Ruins. Rather strangely, she doesn't swim in the water, only perching and splashing her tail in the water. She also refuses to believe that Spyro isn't some sort of fish, calling him a "Dragonfish".
  • Palette Swap: Flame is basically Spyro with red scales instead of purple ones though he is not a direct swap. There are some subtle differences (a wider snout on Flame, a different tail, and spikier fins on said tail) but they're still really similar at first glance. Without going into the Model Viewer, it's hard to notice. Averted with Ember as the only resemblance she has to Spyro is being a dragon, as Ember otherwise has a heart motif (heart pendant, heart tail, has a crush on Spyro).
  • Palmtree Panic: Coastal Remains and Stormy Beach. One area of Dragonfly Falls has shades of this, too.
  • Parental Bonus: After meeting the Surfer Dude otter, Spyro gives a deadpan Aside Glance and says: "Just say no".
  • Power-Up Letdown:
    • The upgraded Horn Dive move that you can buy from Moneybags is...unimpressive, to say the least. Despite the great expense of it (ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 gems), it only adds a small shockwave to the stomps, which at most is a minor time saver for smashing multiple chests of gems and for extremely situational moments in combat due to its ability to break armor.
    • The Water Breath is only needed in very specific situations and is otherwise about as useful as a mans nipple, to where one wonders why they even bothered including it in the game at all. It basically functions as a key for a handful of switch puzzles scattered throughout the game, and it has almost no offensive capabilities at all—both its normal function and secondary breath can only stun regular enemies at most (with the exception of Fodder), something which can already be done more reliably with the Electric breath in addition to its advantage of killing enemies with a continued shock, making it wholly redundant as a move. While it can be used to snuff out fire-based enemies, by the time you get to Volcanic Isles (where enemies like these are a dime-a-dozen and would actually warrant using it regularly) you'll already have the Ice Breath, which completely superannuates even that benefit of the Water Breath in combat since it literally freezes enemies in their tracks and makes them sitting ducks for a charge attack and one-hit kills almost every fire based enemy in the realm.
    • The Wing Shield, which is required for exactly one part of the game (namely, the boomerang wielding enemies in Cloudy Domain) and is otherwise an extremely situational ability that can only deflect specific projectiles (not direct enemy attacks) and makes Spyro a sitting duck for other attacks as he huddles in place.
  • Promoted to Playable: Hunter after being an NPC or mini game-only character since the second game is finally fully playable.
  • Pun-Based Title: The game name is called Spyro: A Hero's Tail, of course a play on words; "A Hero's Tale."
  • Punny Name:
    • Red... because he's red and evil.
    • Ineptune, a pun on Inept (stupid) and Neptune (Roman god of the sea).
    • The Fairies that give Spyro his Elemental Powers all have puns as their name, based on their effects, and also act like their effects in their mannerisms; Amp the Electricity Fairy speaks really fast (and is named after a unit of measurement), Aqua the Water Fairy speaks really softly and slowly (after the blue-green color of water), and Freezia the Ice Fairy is shivering constantly, and her voice reflects that (her name seems to be a pun on "Freezer".)
  • Race Lift: Moneybags went from an upper class Brit to being Russian (despite sounding vaguely Indian).
  • Railroading:
    • While the game has a somewhat open-ended structure, it does require you to gather enough Light Gems and learn certain abilities to access new worlds and levels, or parts of levels cut off by areas you need a specific move (such as the Wall Jump) or by a Light Gem gate. Also, 100% completion of three of the four realms is impossible to do in one go—you need at least 70 Light Gems to access a Secret Area in Dragonfly Falls, and 95 to access another in Icy Wilderness, meaning you can't access them until close to or right by the games end. However, with the exception of two of the Ball Gadget segments, as well as Hunter's trek through Gloomy Glacier to save Spyro, all of the other side-character levels and mini-games are optional and can be skipped if you aren't aiming for 100% completion. One thing that absolutely cannot be skipped in any capacity (at least not by conventional means) however are the Dark Gems, as destroying all of them in each realm is necessary in order to fight the realms boss and move on to the next one.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Elder Magnus is completely pink.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Smashing open chests or baskets rewards you with gems.
  • Same Character, but Different: Moneybags' personality in this game is more lighthearted, with most insults being in jest at Spyro's naivete of his store prices. Compared to his other appearances in the original trilogy, where he's intentionally obstructive of Spyro's goals on a regular basis. In this game, Moneybags actively helps you, as purchasing from him is treated as if her were a legitimate sale. He's still excited about gems, but he's not an all-out gem hoarder as he was previously.
  • Save Scumming: It's possible to rack up a ridiculously high gem count by reloading a save once an area has been cleared it of enemies.
  • Scenery Porn: Dragonfly Falls and Coastal Remains are still rather breathtaking due to the fantastic use of colors, the catchy music, the tropical vibe, and level design that makes them feel rather big.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • The Locked Chests in Coastal Remains only contain gems, not Light Gems or Dragon eggs as you'd expect them to.
    • Unusually, during Gloomy Glacier; Hunter can pick up Keys when killing enemies and opening chests, despite there being a limited amount of chests that would even use them in Hunters' section.
    • A single locked chest underneath a bridge in Frostbite Village only contains Gems.
  • Secondary Fire: All breath types have a longer ranged, ammo limited, secondary fire. Using this feature is completely optional and it's not difficult to beat the game without it.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Spyro points out that Zoe's save-zapping side effect of losing a million braincells seems "Excessively Destructive".
  • Shoot the Messenger: Red has a habit of doing this to his minions when he hears Spyro has defeated Gnasty Gnorc and Ineptune respectively.
  • Shockwave Stomp:
    • A couple of the bosses release shockwaves as an attack, Gnasty Gnorc being the obvious candidate.
    • You can buy an item to make Spyro create a shock wave when he does a Horn Dive.
  • Shock and Awe: Electricity breath. It takes longer to kill enemies, but it has uses to activate electrical nodes, which are common throughout the Realms.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the start of the game, The Professor mentions you need to collect Power Stars to activate the Ball Gadget. Spyro looks at him confused, The Professor says another source of power can be gotten from Red Coins instead. Still bemused, he rattles off Heart Pieces and Gold Tokens, before they both settle on Light Gems.
    • The level "Chains of Lava" seems to be a pun on the song: "Chains of Love", by Erasure. The level itself does have chains holding up platforms, hence the name.
    • The Nanny's real name is Mrs. Shoutfire, a pun on Mrs. Doubtfire.
    • Ineptune is clearly inspired by Ursula from Disney's adaptation of The Little Mermaid, in that she's a morbidly obese merperson and (presumably) a sorceress of sorts.
    • The shield and sword wielding robo-gnorcs in Dark Mines and Red's Laboratory are unmistakably designed as a homage to the RX-78-2. The smaller and larger robo-gnorcs likewise have similar Gundam-like armor.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The entirety of Icy Wilderness (Frostbite Village, Gloomy Glacier and Ice Citadel).
  • Smart Bomb: Usable in the Sparx minigames.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Ice Citadel" has that epic grandiose "end of the game" feel to it's music, but it's not the last level or even in the final world.
  • Surfer Dude/ Totally Radical: Dude, Otto the surfer dude uses "dude" as pretty much every second duding word. Dude. Completing his quest has him say dude repeatedly for a single sentence.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: As with Year of the Dragon, Spyro can swim and breathe underwater indefinitely. Dragonfly Falls has a section where this is averted due to pirahna-infested waters, but asides from that, everything else is fair game.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: The Volcanic Isles has a lot more gems laying about the place in comparison to the other Realms. This appears to be for the purposes of keeping your health full with the Butterfly Jars; which normally cost 1875 gems to purchase, and so need to be purchased fairly often for struggling players.
  • Take Your Time: As with the rest of the games, there's no sudden need to stop Red, you can play all the minigames, travel to all the realms, do all the sidequests you want before defeating him in battle.
  • Technicolor Science: Red's Laboratory has this in spades, with green liquids and cables everywhere. Some of the Dark Mine have this, but to a much lesser degree.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics:
    • Ember. In addition to being pink, she has a heart-shaped necklace and a heart-shaped tail.
    • Phil and Peggy the Penguins. Phil wears a bowtie, a vest, and glasses, while Peggy wears a pink skirt and bow on her head.
  • Tally Marks on the Prison Wall: Elder Astors' Prison cell in the Ice Citadel has these on the walls.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • While he is working for someone else this game, and a bit more of a dork personality wise, Gnasty Gnorc's boss battle is considerably tougher than his final boss fight in the first game. He takes far more hits to take down and has gained some rather hard to dodge electricity-based attacks.
    • Hunter has his own playable section now, making him Promoted to Playable, he's a lot more competent and less goofy in this game than he was in the Classic trilogy, and actually has to save Spyro at one point in a major mission in the game, a direct inverse of most of his missions in the Classic trilogy.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Moneybags, in stark contrast to being a completely greedy and amoral sellout and all around creep in the previous Spyro games, is actually helpful and on much more friendly terms with the heroes in this game. He's still a somewhat smarmy money-grubber and charges Spyro, but it's for legitimate trade in his store rather than blackmailing you for public passageways he's blocked off, or for allies he's helping keep imprisoned.
  • Turncoat: During the final Battle a Target button can be horn-dived to make the enemies fire lasers at Red instead
  • Underground Level: Gloomy Glacier and most of Volcanic Isle. Blink's levels are also always set in caves.
  • Underwater Ruins: Sunken Ruins fits this quite well.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • A random ice elemental appears only once in Ice Citadel.
    • There's a hostile farmer in Dragonfly Falls that will send goats to attack you. He doesn't even respawn when you die or revisit the area. Also in the same level, there are monkey enemies found in the secret area that do not appear anywhere else.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: Reds Minions, and also Red's final form.
  • Variable Mix: The music in boss phases changes to be more intense, while the music in other levels change when you go underwater to be more muted, or they change depending on which area of a realm you go to; Sunken Ruins is different to Coastal Remains, which is different to Cloudy Domain.
  • Violation of Common Sense:
    • You can barge seahorses in Dragonfly Falls to get health back. The health is still portrayed as butterflies, however, just in a bubble. Similarly, anytime Sparx goes underwater, a bubble magically appears with him.
    • In the battle with Ineptune, the easiest way to dodge her attack where she summons lasers to attack you is by standing right on top of the drones that fire them (though this requires a fairly precise jump to pull off).
    • In the first battle with Red, whats the best way to dodge his very fast freezing attack? Simple; by standing right in front of him. While Red will sometimes try to whip you with his tail if you get too close, it works as a great blind spot as he never once thinks to lower his staff to hit you down there. Barring that, its actually possible to destroy his ice blasts with Spyro's fire breath, though the game never hints that you can do this and in practice, this is a much riskier tactic due to the precise and repetitive timing required.
    • Some of the Yeti's in the Ice Citadel can make snow out of dirt.
  • Vocal Evolution: Sparx is still voiced by Andre Soqliuzzo. However, he now uses a deeper voice capable of full English (though blends it with some of his usual high-pitched buzzing akin to the previous titles).
  • Wall Crawl: Hunter and Blink can climb certain walls.
  • Wall Jump: Spyro can learn how to do this move from an Elder Dragon in the Ice Citadel later in the game, though it only works on very specific surfaces.
  • Warp Whistle: You can buy a Teleport Pass at either Moneybags' shop or a Remote Shop Pad, allowing you to teleport to a Remote Shop Pad you have already visited in the current Realm. It's among the cheapest items you can buy (only 100 gems) so there's not much of a limit on their use.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In Icy Wilderness, Spyro comes across a mammoth who happens to be working for Red. Said mammoth then knocks Spyro out mid-cutscene and traps him in a cage, leaving the player controlling Hunter for the segment. The mammoth then disappears from the game altogether, never coming face-to-face with either of them again.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Spyro calls out the Professor for trying to sneak into Red's lair and getting himself captured, resulting in Red's army being upgraded into powerful battle robots.
    Spyro: Professor, I finally found you! What were you thinking, going after Red?
    Professor: I don't know, I thought I could stop him after you had weakened him.
  • Whole Costume Reference: The ermine-trimmed gown the Ice Princess wears is based on an actual gown Ann Boleyn once wore.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: One of the bosses Spyro encounters, a mammoth, says he was hired by Red to capture Spyro. Spyro taunts him by hanging a lampshade on usual Boss Battle structure... only for the mammoth to Avert Talking Is a Free Action and knocks Spyro out mid-sentence.
  • Winter Royal Lady: The Ice Princess is a Fox in a royal dress.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: You'd be forgiven for thinking that Moneybags is meant to sound Indian; He's actually meant to sound Russian.
  • Wing Shield: Elder Titan in Cloudy Domain teaches Spyro about using his wings as a shield to deflect boomerangs and particle projectiles.
  • You Have Failed Me: Red has a habit of killing off his Mooks without a second thought for failing him.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Ember has Pink and Purple Hair on her head and tail.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Throughout the game, Spyro has to find the Elder Dragons to learn (or in the case of returning moves like the Wing Shield, re-learn) how to do moves as physically trivial as flapping his wings to gain height.
  • You Remind Me of X: During their first battle, Red remarks that Spyro reminds him of himself when he was his age, especially in the way he fights. Spyro retorts that he just hopes that he doesn't fight like Red when he's his age.

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