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Video Game / Spyro: A Hero's Tail

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The ninth Spyro the Dragon game, released on the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Xbox in 2004.

There's a new dragon in town named Red, and he's not exactly happy with the other dragon elders. He and his army of Gnorcs and other baddies are planting Dark Gems in the Realm—horrible things that radiate dark energy, warping the world around them! It takes a dragon with tough horns—like Spyro—to break them and return the land to its splendor. There's a bunch of kidnapped dragon eggs, 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!


This game contains examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: The only classic era Spyro game since her first appearance where Bianca does not appear.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Played with. Unlike past games, gems replenish after a certain amount of time, or when you get knocked out, which means Moneybags has far more items and upgrades to offer than in past games. However, his main shop is located in the start of each hub world, with other shops setup in the other areas costing more gems to purchase items. However, the teleport pass always cost 100 gems regardless of where you are, 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 once were. Useful at the start of the game, but once you get midway through game, the increased price doesn't matter as much.
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  • 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.
  • Arrows on Fire: Hunter's limited supply of fire arrows can be used to destroy strong chests and breakable walls.
  • 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
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • 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.
    • In response to a particularly indecipherable line from a 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 an 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.
  • Breath Weapon: Available in Fire, Electric, Water and Ice flavours.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: There's one in Hunter's section of Dragonfly Falls.
  • Concept Art Gallery: Unlocked by collecting all of the white dragon eggs
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The Ice Princess is an anthropomorphic fox.
  • 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 and breath attack buttons (which were the same throughout the previous four games) are switched for no reason at all.
  • 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.
  • Distressed Dude: At one point, Spyro gets captured by a mammoth who averts Talking Is a Free Action, and has to be rescued by Hunter.
  • Dem Bones: The skeletons in Gloomy Glacier which can't be harmed by Hunter's arrows.
  • 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 says if Spyro 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 level.
  • Dynamic Loading: This game ditches the portals and "Spyro flying through the air" loading screens in favour of slow moving lifts, long tunnels and other dynamic loading tricks. A more conventional Loading Screen is used when travelling between Realms.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Red has one.
  • Emergency Energy Tank: Healing Butterfly Jars can be bought ar Moneybags' Shop.
  • Eskimo Land: Icy Wilderness/Frostbite Village.
  • Eternal Engine: Dark Mine and Red's Laboratory.
  • Fireballs: Fire breath's Secondary Fire. Some of the enemies also shoot them.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Spyro's breaths now include Fire, Ice and Lightning (and water) variants.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: After meeting the Surfer Dude otter, Spyro gives a deadpan Aside Glance: "Just say no."
  • Giant Spider: Some jump out at you in Crocovile Swamp and other levels. Not fun.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Green Hill Zone: Dragon Village.
  • Homing Projectile: Electric breath's Secondary Fire.
  • Hub Level: Each of the first three Realms have one; the final Realm is just a succession of levels in order.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys
  • 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.
  • Jump Physics
    • Double Jump: Spyro, Hunter and Blink. Spyro needs to be taught how to do it, though.
    • Wall Jump: Spyro learns the Wall Kick Move from a Dragon Elder late in the game, but it only works in very specific areas. Blink can do this by default.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Molten Mount and Magma Falls.
  • Level-Map Display
  • 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 humorous, and so on.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The standard way to defeat enemies using ice breath.
  • 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.
  • Minecart Madness: Magma Falls, except you're in the Ball Gadget instead of a minecart.
  • 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 number of gems from killing enemies instead of there being a definite amount. Of the upgrades you can buy in the game, there's only two that's really useful. (The key chain, which lets you hold three keys instead of one, and the extra hit, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.) The Shockwave, despite being the most expensive upgrade, doesn't have the range to really justify its price, and you can go the whole game without ever needing to use the sub-shots of the elemental breaths, making increasing and restocking their ammo by buying it rather pointless. The only things that are worth buying are the butterfly jar, (which you can only have one of at a time) teleport tokens, and keys. (Which don't cost much, so you'd pretty much always be able to afford them.) On top of all this, it makes the double gem power up pointless as well.
    • And even with only five things being worth wild in the buying department, even that doesn't matter as well. It's possible to, by the end of the game, buy all the upgrades outside of the double gem power up, max out your ammo, keys, and buy a butterfly jar, and still have a gem total that ranks up in the hundred thousands.
  • Money Multiplier: You can temporarily double the value of gems... by purchasing an item using gems. Seems kind of pointless in the long run, really.
  • Mook Maker: There are some which will spawn an infinite number of spiders.
  • 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.
  • 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, for example) but they're still really similar. Without going into the Model Viewer, it's hard to notice.
  • Palmtree Panic: Coastal Remains and Stormy Beach.
  • Promoted to Playable: Hunter after being an NPC or mini game-only character since the second game is finally fully playable.
  • Race Lift: Moneybags went from an upper class Brit to being Indian, complete with an accent that makes him sound like Apu.
  • Scenery Porn: Dragonfly Falls, which is still rather breathtaking due to the good use of color and tropical vibe.
  • 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.
  • Shockwave Stomp
    • A couple of the bosses release shockwaves as an attack
    • You can buy an item to make Spyro create a shock wave when he does a Horn Dive.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The entirety of Icy Wilderness (Frostbite Village, Gloomy Glacier and Ice Citadel).
  • Smart Bomb: Usable in the Sparx minigames.
  • Surfer Dude / Totally Radical: Dude, Otto the surfer dude uses "dude" as pretty much every second duding word. Dude.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Ember. In addition to being pink, she has a necklace and a heart-shaped tail.
  • 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 too. Not only is he fully 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 contrast to being The Quisling in previous games, is actually helpful and on more friendly terms with the heroes in this game. He's still greedy and charges Spyro, but it's for legitimate trade in his store rather than blackmailing you for public passageways he's blocked or allies he's helping keep prisoner.
  • Underground Level: Gloomy Glacier and most of Volcanic Isle. Blink's levels are also always set in caves.
  • Underwater Ruins: Sunken Ruins.
  • 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: Red's final form.
  • 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.
  • Warp Whistle: You can buy a Teleport Pass at any shop location, allowing you to teleport to a shop you have already visited in the current Realm. It's one of the cheapest items you can buy (only 100 gems) so there's not much of a limit on their use.
  • 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.
  • You Have Failed Me: Red has a habit of killing off his Mooks without a second thought for failing him.
  • 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.


Example of: