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Video Game / The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon

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The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is the third and final installment of The Legend of Spyro, following The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night. The game is primarily an Action-Adventure title with some RPG Elements, and its gameplay centers around controlling Spyro and Cynder, who are magically bound to each other at the start, while unlocking and strengthening their elemental breath abilities and switching between the two dragons to make use of their different skillsets.

Three years after the events of the previous game, Spyro and Cynder awaken from their crystalline prison, only to be unceremoniously chained together at the neck by vile servants of the Dark Master. However, Hunter the cheetah tracks them down and helps them escape. During their slumber, the Dark Master, Malefor, rose again, and the world is in turmoil. Now, Spyro and Cynder must work as a team to help stop Malefor.

The game was released for the Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3 in 2008. Unlike the first two games, which were developed by Krome Studios, Dawn of the Dragon was designed by Etranges Libellules and has a notably different art style from its prequels.

This game contains examples of:

  • Action Commands:
    • During the golem battle, when climbing up its arms to strike its head, the player is shown various button commands. Completing them in time lets Spyro and Cynder avoid its attempts to strike them and shake them off.
    • Commands appear again during the battle against Malefor, where rapidly pressing the button flashing on the screen allows Spyro and Cynder to evade the Dark Master's counterattacks.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: In the climax, just as Spyro is about to unleash his Light Aether to stop the destruction of the world, which may end up as a Heroic Sacrifice, Cynder, who refuses to leave Spyro's side, whispers "I love you" to him.
  • Apocalypse How: The Destroyer causes either a Class 4 or Class 5. It's kind of hard to tell if almost all life gets wiped out and the remaining life survives or if it's complete extinction and life returns somehow. However, it can also be a Class X, as the world breaks apart in the process but somehow gets restored afterwards.
  • Armored Dragons: Spyro and Cynder can find various pieces of armor around the world — helmets, bracers, and hip pieces — which can be equipped to provide various stat boosts. Putting on an entire matching set will give them an additional bonus.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: A New Beginning and The Eternal Night use a fairly simple, cartoony look similar to that of the classic games. Dawn of the Dragon uses a much more detailed, realistic one, with notably less stylized proportions and more complex rendering and shading.
  • Bag of Spilling: Spyro starts the game with no powers, as the elemental and time-based abilities he developed in The Eternal Night are lost in the transition between the two games, requiring him to redevelop his breaths from scratch.
  • Beam-O-War: The final battle features one as the deciding move when Malefor tries to kill Spyro and Cynder with his Dark Aether Breath, only for them to counter with their respective Fury Breaths. After a beam struggle, the heroes finally overpower him.
  • Beam Spam: Fury-mode breath. Watch enemies explode into pretty showers of crystals on contact!
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Cynder has a blade on the end of her tail that she sometimes uses as a weapon, particularly in heavy melee attacks and her Scorpion Strike (where it is imbued with her Poison element). She also primarily uses this to attack Spyro when she is temporarily re-corrupted by Malefor.
  • Bizarro Elements: Spyro's elements are still the usual Fire, Ice, Earth, and Lightning. Cynder's are a bit more unusual—she has the standard Wind, the less-conventional-but-still-plausible Shadow and Poison, and the truly out-there element of Fear.
  • Bottomless Pit Rescue Service: The player is automatically forced into flight mode if they fall into an otherwise bottomless pit.
  • Cat Folk: The cheetahs are humanoid felines largely resembling upright panthers with thumbs, and are characterized as fierce and proud, but also seclusive and isolationist.
  • Chained Heat: The game has this as a mechanic — due to the snake chains that tethers them together, Spyro and Cynder can't go too far from one another. They can use the chain to their advantage for maneuvering, such as by swinging each other around like pendulums or having one of them hold onto an object while the other pulls them around, but they can also be pinned down by special anchors.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: In the last two games, the different kinds of spirit gems are distinguished by color — red ones restore health, green ones restore mana, purple ones fill up the Fury meter and blue ones give experience points.
  • Colossus Climb:
    • The Golem boss battle involves wounding its arm enough to jump on and climb up to it's head and smash it's brain. Answering the question of why they don't just fly up to do it, the Guardians tried that and failed horribly.
    • The Destroyer is also fought in this manner and plays it much straighter, as the dang thing is bigger than a mountain and serves as it associated level in its entirety.
  • Darkest Hour: The ending is the bleakest part of the trilogy. Ignitus is killed in a Heroic Sacrifice, the Destroyer is getting close to starting the world's destruction and nothing can stop it, and Cynder is once again put under Malefor's control. A Hope Spot comes when the Power of Love frees Cynder, giving them a fighting chance, but it's crushed when the Destroyer finishes its journey and begins the end of the world. It eventually gets better and Spyro manages to perform a World-Healing Wave and fixes the world, but it was certainly a dark moment. Notably, the trope name was the original title for the game, The Darkest Hour.
  • Darker and Edgier: Dawn of the Dragon drops the first two games' cartoony art style for a much more realistic and detailed one, uses far less humor than its prequels, gives much closer attention to the war and devastation caused by the villain, and Ignitus burns to death — yes, he dies offscreen, but still. Malefor alone is much darker than both the Classic villains and the foes of the first two games, and is an Omnicidal Maniac trying to destroy the world.
  • Death by Irony: Ignitus, guardian of fire, dies in the wall of fire left behind by the Destroyer.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Spyro confronts Malefor and Malefor turns Cynder against him, he's left too downbeat to even defend himself against her.
    Cynder: Fight back! ...Why won't you fight back?!
    Spyro: ...Because you've left me nothing to fight for....
  • Demoted to Extra: Volteer and Cyril. Both are chatterboxes in the first two games, but here they each get a single line. A Deleted Scene originally was intended for them to have their normal chatterbox status, but it was cut.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Spyro and Cynder manage to kill the Destroyer, an ancient mythological monster that exists to destroy the world, by destroying every dark crystal in its body, including its heart. Sure, Malefor brings it back to life, but if he hadn't been involved then it would've been dead. It's not like it worsened the situation in any way. It's not even the Final Boss.
  • Disney Death: Well, it's kind of a Disney Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. At the end Spyro and Cynder seem to have a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world but, after the credits the Chronicler informs Ignitus that he can't find any information on Spyro dying... and then we see him and Cynder, joyfully flying around Avalar, but whether they are alive or dead is intentionally left open to interpretation.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Malefor's demise is a bit vague, but it certainly has this feel to it since the spirits of dragons grab him and pull him into the earth's crystal core.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Destroyer walks in a massive circle to destroy the planet; once it returns to its stating point, the world begins to tear itself to pieces. Interestingly, Malefor boasts all it would do is cover the planet in flames.
  • Eternal Recurrence: It's revealed that purple dragons are supposed to destroy and rebuild the world periodically. The problem is that the last one appointed to the position, Malefor, didn't exactly do his job properly...
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Malefor does this to the Apes after they outlive their usefulness. He turns them into undead creatures, forever doomed to remain in the shadows with a hunger for the energy of others that can never be filled. Even Spyro and Cynder, who the Apes had been trying to kill for two games, are horrified at this.
    • Depending on how you view his final scene, Malefor's defeat may also count since it resembles Dragged Off to Hell.
  • Floating Continent: The last level in the game takes place among the chunks of ruins and landscape torn from the ground by Malefor's magic, now floating in a loose archipelago high in the sky. In this case, the danger of falling to one's death is non-existent, as Spyro and Cynder can actually fly this time around.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: The game ends with Spyro and Cynder happily flying around in the sky, and then swooping in towards the camera.
  • Free-Fall Fight: The Final Boss battle with Malefor consists of fighting him as Spyro, Cynder, and he plummet down a volcano to the core of the world.
  • Friendlessness Insult: Malefor tries to break Spyro's spirit by telling him that he is alone and always has been.
  • Genre Shift: Dawn is more of a co-op game where each partner has to stick together, rather than the more relatively free-roaming style of the first two games.
  • Ghibli Hills: The Valley of Avalar is a beautiful, secluded land of lush green meadows dotted with groves of trees and fields of colorful flowers and crossed by a rushing whitewater river, all just outside the cheetahs' village.
  • Golem: Golems are giant lava monsters the sleep under the earth. Only one is actually seen, serving as The Brute to Malefor, although the Destroyer appears to be a supersized specimen of this breed.
  • Grand Finale: Dawn of the Dragon is the conclusion of the three-game saga. Malefor is defeated, the world is saved, Ignitus becomes the new Chronicler and Spyro and Cynder's whereabouts are left open to interpretation by Word of God.
  • Green Hill Zone: After emerging from the Catacombs, the first part of the game takes place mainly in the Enchanted Forest and the Valley of Avatar, areas of wide fields, rich woods, and rolling hills wound through by a rushing river. The enemies are of fairly straightforward sorts, and these areas serve mainly to introduce the game's new graphic style, free-flight mechanic, and story before plunging the player into the harsher environments of the much more action-packed second part.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Downplayed. While Spyro and Cynder broadly the same range of abilities, Spyro has a higher health gauge than mana meter while Cynder is the other way around, encouraging use of the former as a more physical attacker and of the latter as a more magically-focused one.
  • The Hermit: While exploring Avalar, Spyro and Cynder encounter an old cheetah hermit who chooses to live alone in the wilderness rather than among the other cheetahs in the village. His time alone is shown to have taken a toll on him, as while he's wise and well-informed he's also a touch deranged and his advice is couched in taunts and ominous implications and punctuated by bursts of cackling.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Ignitus focuses a fire-dampening spell around Spyro and Cynder, excluding himself to make it work better. He burns to death.
    • There's also a subverted case. In the ending, it seems like Spyro and Cynder make one, and even they seem aware this may be their end. Despite seeing them in the post-credits scene, Word of God confirms that their ultimate fate whether they made it out alive or not is left up to speculation.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: At the start of the game, Hunter manages to hit a Golem in the eye from quite a distance away.
  • Infinity +1 Element: Going into Fury mode lets you use a special, "Fury-type" elemental breath. It's very effective on Elite Enemies.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Equipping all the pieces of Fury armor to either Spyro or Cynder lets them use the Fury-element breath at any time. Most things die quickly. Unfortunately, so does your Mana Meter.
  • Knockout Ambush: Spyro, Cynder, and Sparx are shot with enchanted arrows by the cheetah tribe that immediately render them unconscious. Sparx only has enough time to react with a Slow "NO!"
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Burned Lands are dominated by rivers and waterfalls of lava, which serve as major terrain obstacles alongside vents that periodically loose gouts of fire into the air.
  • Lip Lock: The game was made by a French game studio (Etranges Libellules), so the lip-pinching is intended to match French dialogue and the English dub sometimes makes conversations seem kind of rushed.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Cynder's "Fear" element lets her use superpowered screeches.
  • Marathon Level: While the Siege of Warfang is only somewhat more lengthy than other levels, it's extremely chaotic, and the later half of it is basically an endless stream of combat. There's also constant running back and forth between several places you need to be on a strict time limit.
  • Mordor: The Burned Lands, the area immediately around Malefor's lair, are a wasteland of barren, jagged black rocks interspersed with rivers of lava, fiery vents, and stands of burnt trees, all under a sky-shrouding pall of volcanic fumes and ash. Notably, between them and Malefor's lair proper is a series of floating islands covered in lush green grass, hovering above the ash and smoke and in full sunlight.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Malefor comes very close to winning. At the climax, he's unleashed the Destroyer and the only hope of stopping it is defeating Malefor before it completes the Ring Of Fire. Spyro and Cynder fail to stop him in time and it finishes. Malefor's boss battle with the heroes after that point amounts to stopping him once and for all. The only thing that prevents him from winning is Spyro performing a World-Healing Wave and undoing the Destroyer's power.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Spyro, Cynder, and Sparx have been frozen in crystal for three years, allowing Malefor to run rampant over the world, and when the game starts he days away from succeeding in his ultimate plan to destroy the world. Then some mooks decide to break them out of the crystal to sacrifice to a giant monster and they escape, allowing them to turn the tide against Malefor and save the world. They also tethered the two together with a pair of magic necklaces, but this allows the two to work together much more effectively and ultimately makes them realize their love for one another.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In the final confrontation, Malefor claims that purple dragons were meant to constantly destroy and rebirth the world, and that Spyro has carried that torch that Malefor himself held in this regard. Instead, Spyro ends up repairing the planet. Spyro also considers the possibility of this trope, but Ignitus assures him otherwise.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Spyro is normally an All-Loving Hero who is polite and friendly to pretty much everyone he meets. This goes out the window with Dark Spyro. Wracked by grief at Ignitus's Heroic Sacrifice, he turns into Dark Spyro again and is so determined to go back in and "rescue" Ignitus that he threatens to hurt Cynder, something he'd never do otherwise.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Malefor takes over Warfang's temple and turns it into one of these in the three years between The Eternal Night and Dawn of the Dragon. For added ominousness, there's a massive volcano erupting underneath it that the Destroyer emerges from. The temple is destroyed when the Destroyer completes its path around the world, triggering the volcano to erupt and the world to begin breaking apart.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: The Orcs are Malefor's soldiers and made of roots and dirt, a stronger and bigger counterpart to the diminutive Grublins.
  • Our Wyverns Are Different: Wyverns are flying enemies. They're made from earth, vegetation and minerals like the rest of Malefor's army, and shaped in a mix of flying serpent and manta ray. One of them shows up as an elite enemy in the penultimate level of the game.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Dawn of the Dragon picks up three years after the end of The Eternal Night, and Spyro and Cynder have grown into teenage dragons rather than their smaller selves from the first and second games, despite remaining the same height. This was because of the change in art direction and game developers, and was done in order to better show off the next-gen graphics of the PS3 and Xbox 360.
  • The Power of Love: It plays a rather large role at the end. Cynder manages to break Spyro out of his Dark Spyro form with it following Ignitus' death. He then returns the favor by freeing her from Malefor's control with his own love for her.
  • Purple Is the New Black: Despite being a black dragon in the previous two games, Cynder's scales are rendered dark purple. The characters in the game, particularly the Hermit, still call her the "black dragon" regardless.
  • Real Is Brown: The PS3/Xbox360 versions make heavy use of the bloom effect, leaving the scenery seemingly drenched in honey.
  • Scenery Porn: Twilight Falls and the Valley of Avalar in particular are very lushly rendered, decorated with lush forests and roaring rivers and, in the case of Twilight Falls, huge glowing planets up in the sky surrounded by twinkling stars. Even the later levels, which feature a lot of fire and war, fit this trope — the Burned Lands are comprised entirely of lava rivers and burned spires of rock but still manage to be highly visually impressive with the gigantic volcano looming over the level, and the Floating Islands are just gorgeous.
  • Shattered World: In the end, Spyro and Cynder only manage to prevent the end of the world just after after the planet begins to physically break apart. As a result, although the world is stabilized before it is fully destroyed, it is left as a loose swarm of island- to continent-sized chunks floating through the sky.
  • Shipper on Deck: When Ignitus notices that Spyro and Cynder are tethered together he has a few words of encouragement, punctuated by a sly grin towards Sparx.
    Ignitus: Do not view this chain as a hindrance, but allow it to be a reminder of the bond you two share. Your destinies are now intertwined. And that thought is a hopeful one.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Just before the final battle with Malefor, Spyro tells Sparx he can't come with him and instead asks him to lead everyone to safety underground. Justified, as he would not survive the intense heat in the Belt of Fire.
  • Shout-Out: The siege of Warfang is basically one giant Shout-Out to the siege of Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
  • Siege Engines: During the battle at Warfang, Malefor's forces use siege towers and a Battering Ram while the moles defend the city with a catapult.
  • Spirit Advisor: In the ending, Ignitus appears to Spyro in spirit form with advice.
  • The Stinger: After the credits roll for beating the game, the player sees Ignitus become the new Chronicler... and that a glimpse of Spyro and Cynder are spotted somewhere after putting the fractured world back together. Word of God states that Spyro and Cynder's ultimate fate is left ambiguous, however.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Moles share their species, short stature and French accents with the first two games' Manweersmalls, but are never referred to as or identified with them.
  • Teamwork Puzzle Game: A central part of the game is that Cynder and Spyro's elements interact with different obstacles, and the player has to figure out which character's elements are needed to get past a certain obstacle.
  • This Cannot Be!: When Malefor simply resurrects the Destroyer after the heroes' desperate, barely-successful attempt at stopping it, Ignitus is left staring at it dumbfounded whole murmuring "This can't be!"
  • Took a Level in Badass: After spending The Eternal Night as a Distressed Damsel, Cynder awakens from her three years as Sealed Good in a Can and becomes a playable character, as well as an Action Girl.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The Destroyer is supposed to go around the entire world in order to create the Belt of Fire that will destroy the planet, but manages to cross that entire distance in the space of a cutscene at a speed so high that even the dragons wouldn't be able to catch up with it.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The ending song, "Guide You Home", is a triumphant, lyrical reprise of the music used in the Enchanted Forest and Valley of Avalar.
  • Uncertain Doom: Was Malefor sealed within that crystal core, or was that spectacular flash of light from within the core as it broke apart Malefor being destroyed inside it? Or was he Dragged Off to Hell? It was neither confirmed nor denied whether he got a page in the book for whenever a dragon dies, as mention was only given to Spyro not appearing.
  • Undead Counterpart: In the first two games, the most common enemies that Spyro faces are the Apes. Here, he instead faces groups of skeletal Apes, revealed to have been created when Malefor, displeased with their shallow, mercenary loyalty to him, cursed the Apes to become undead creatures with a hunger for the energy of others that can never be filled.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: You start out fighting in a fiery void above the destroyed Dragon Temple, then end up falling down an erupting volcano, and end the fight in the center of the planet as it breaks apart.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Malefor has one when Cynder breaks free of his control thanks to the Power of Love. He reacts by getting enraged for the first and only time in the entire series and instantly cutting straight to the Final Battle.
  • Womb Level: While it's not an organic creature, the culmination of the Destroyer level has Spyro and Cynder fly down its throat and destroy its crystal heart while the lava that functions as its bodily fluids roils and sprays around them.
  • The Worf Effect: All four Guardian Dragons fight the golem, but despite doing damage to it they're each overwhelmed and knocked out of the sky, leaving it to Spyro and Cynder.
  • World-Healing Wave: At the end, Spyro unleashes one to stop the world from breaking apart. Word of God states that Spyro and Cynder's fate after the effort is left up to speculation.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: If the Destroyer completes its march around the planet, it will unleash a wave of fire that will burn the world to ash.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Malefor does this to the Apes by rewarding them with a Fate Worse than Death for freeing him from his prison. Since he quickly replaced them with the Grublins, it's rather clear his intention was to do this from the get go.


Video Example(s):


Spyro and Cynder

As the world is breaking apart around them, Spyro is encouraged by Ignitus's spirit to try and stop it, though there may not be any surviving. Still, Cynder refuses to leave his side, and as he unleashes a powerful fury wave, Cynder whispers one last thing to him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnguishedDeclarationOfLove

Media sources: