- Alternative Character Interpretation: Gabrielle, the fairy who grants Spyro ice breath in Frozen Altars is often believed to be working for the Sorceress considering the "gift" ultimately only serves to inconvenience Spyro by rendering him unable to conventionally melt the giant snowmen rampaging around the realm.
- Anti-Climax Boss: The Sorceress is built up as one of the most powerful threats Spyro has had to deal with, but the two battles she has have issues.
- The first battle has been criticised for only using one of Spyro's friends (Agent 9), having no dialogue between Spyro and the Sorceress and an overemphasis on using different vehicles to damage her, which falls in with the game's Gameplay Roulette but is considered underwhelming regardless. Early game versions also had a particularly Narmy glitch: the boss fight plays the Sunrise Springs overworld theme, sapping the battle of the intended intensity. Thankfully, the latter issue was fixed with the Greatest Hits rerelease.
- The second fight is completely atypical to the norm, as both her and Spyro fight atop flying saucers trying to gun each other down. It's incredibly easy to dodge her shots and get hits in. It's a bit of a disappointment compared to the rest of Super Bonus Round, as well as the sheer amount of effort required just to unlock the fight in the first place.
- Author's Saving Throw: The Greatest Hits rerelease polished up the game to remove a good amount of the glitches and add the missing music tracks into their respective levels.
- Awesome Music: Stewart Copeland's score... as always.
- Base-Breaking Character: Depending on who you ask, Agent 9 is either insanely annoying or insanely hilarious... or both. Add onto that the gamers who thought Bianca should have been the final playable instead of him.
- Best Level Ever: It may be insanely hard, but Fireworks Factory is very well remembered by those who've played the game - Greta's actions while following you through the level, the Twin Dragons miniboss (with the Infinite Superfly and Superflame combo powerup!), and one of the game's best soundtrack pieces are the major highlights. Is it no wonder that it was prominently featured in promotional artwork?
- Breather Boss:
- Scorch is a fine boss by himself but he comes after Spike, the toughest fight in the series save the Final Boss, so the devs decided to throw you a bone. The missiles Bentley throws to you lock in on Scorch so easily that you almost have to try to miss. The battle format also allows you to hit him every time that he attacks, which is often, and Bentley throws more healing items than normal as opposed to Spike's battle where Sgt. Byrd rarely, if ever, throws any healing items. Makes you wonder why didn't they make Scorch the second boss and Spike the third.....
- Sleepyhead is pathetically easy, with a fighting strategy consisting solely of summoning the small gators you've been beating throughout the entire level and throwing a Cartoon Bomb that can easily be headbutted back. In comparison, the Robot Shark of Seashell Shore (the previous Mini-Boss) is far tougher.
- Broken Base:
- The over-focus on other characters instead of Spyro himself. About half the game is spent controlling Spyro while the other half is spent controlling other characters with many, many different playstyles. Some feel it was a good way to spice things up, while others felt it took away from the game, to the point some claim Spyro was mostly there to get you to buy the game in the first place. (The fact that Gameplay Roulette fell out of style near the mid-PlayStation 2 era doesn't exactly help either...)
- Even in regards to Spyro himself, while there's no contest that his base gameplay controls great, there's a lot of discourse to be had over the copious amounts of vehicles that he's placed in, including speedboats, submarines, demolition hovercrafts, and most infamously, skateboards. Just like with the other playable characters, some see this as a good way of spicing up the gameplay with incredibly fun distractions, whereas others see them as needless padding with incredibly clunky and unresponsive controls that serve to not put Spyro's abilities to good use. In regards to the skateboard segments especially, the races in the latter half of the game tend to draw ire, and some aren't fond of the fact that it was massively advertised in promotional material (to the point of being front and center on the European box art).
- There's also some hot debate over whether or not it was an Even Better Sequel to Spyro 2 or if it's a Contested Sequel that shows the original trilogy isn't flawless. Pros often point to the more fleshed out Spyro parts, the pretty good boss battles, and the storyline being surprisingly deep and creepy when you really start thinking about it. Detractors point out how less than half the game is spent actually playing as Spyro, with the other half usually consisting of being bounced around other characters with greatly different playstyles, with quite a few of themnote controlling rather awkwardly at times.
- Catharsis Factor:
- One of the first things you can do post-game is chase down Moneybags and kick the ever-loving crap out of him to get back the gems you've spent throughout the game.
- The bunnies in Midday Gardens—there's a lot of them, they're often bundled close together, you can take them out in any number of ways, and they always react spectacularly. Because there are so many of them together, they're a great farming spot for 1-UP butterflies.
- Defeating the Sorceress twice is also quite satisfying, especially after its revealed she wanted to steal the dragon eggs so she could rip their wings off and use their magic to make her magic stronger.
- Complete Monster: The Sorceress is the cruel ruler of the Forgotten Worlds. Manipulating her apprentice Bianca into abducting 150 dragon eggs under the guise of restoring magic to her kingdom, the Sorceress quickly reveals the true depths of her selfishness and hypocrisy. Completely uncaring of the lives of her men, the Sorceress transforms her own minions into freakish monsters to fight Spyro, and ultimately plans to create a monster to wipe out every dragon, even the hatchlings, all so she can collect their wings for a spell that will give her eternal youth. She nonchalantly states that she doesn't even have to kill them; she just doesn't want them wriggling around while she removes their wings. A genocidal tyrant who only cares about herself, the Sorceress stands out as the darkest and purest villain in the original Spyro trilogy.
- Contested Sequel: Some feel like it's the best of the original trilogy, managing to build on the set formula from the first two games. Others feel it's the weakest of the trilogy, for the above reasons stated in Broken Base. And others feel that it's better than the first game but not as good as the second one.
- Demonic Spiders: The gun-toting T-Rexes in Dino Mines will murder you if you don't murder them first. Their shots are surprisingly accurate and dodging if you're too close is almost impossible. The dynamite-tossing ones are just as bad too, due to them aiming their explosives ahead of Spyro's current position. And even the "seahorse" dinosaurs are bad, not only because the swimming controls are beyond clunky, but because no matter which direction they're facing, their bullets still home in on you, meaning they can shoot behind themselves.
- Designated Hero: The Gnomes from Crystal Islands. They're treated as allies due to stealing magic from the Sorceress, but in using this magic for their magic tricks, they end up crystallizing an entire ecosystem, which sends its residents on a rampage for very justifiable reasons... and yet Spyro still helps them.
- Ensemble Dark Horse:
- Sheila is this among Spyro's playable friends.
- Bianca was quite popular for her role in Year Of The Dragon. Even Legends series only fans find her character and development to be extremely enjoyable.
- Goddamned Boss: The Chinese Dragons of Fireworks Factory are not exactly tough, but they're still annoying to handle due to them being very fast and slim, making them hard to hit with your fireballs. And God forbid if you get hit by their fireballs, causing you to plummet down into the ground, lose them from view and generally waste your time as they regenerate all the damage you inflicted on them..
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Moral Event Horizon: The Sorceress planning to kill 150 baby dragons just so she could use their wings for an immortality spell. And what's worse, she didn't actually need to kill them.
- Most Wonderful Sound: The jingle that plays before an egg hatches in the third game.
- The Sorceress' boss battle on the original NTSC version. Due to a glitch, your final battle is being conducted to the tune of Sunrise Spring. The battle was SUPPOSED to have a unique theme as it is present in the disc, though this was fixed in the Greatest Hits version. Both PAL versions also use an incorrect tune, though the more fitting Spike boss theme.
- While Bianca's arc is poignant, it's somewhat hindered by her especially limited 3D model and perpetual Smug Smiler facial expression.
- Speaking of which, there's Tara and Gus from Desert Ruins. Tara is an obvious Lara Croft homage, which is cool, except for the fact that she's an obvious reskin of Bianca's model. Likewise, while Tara and Gus are clearly meant to be mice, Gus is an obvious reskin of the Gemcutters from Glimmer, who were kangaroo rats. True, kangaroo rats are rodents, but it gives Gus a somewhat-marsupial look in contrast to the more rodent-like Tara.
- Narm Charm: Greta's role in Fireworks Factory is downright hilarious simply because of how over-the-top it's played, particularly the "fwee my mind" scene and the level's story ending with her taking out 5 mooks in a very Matrix-style fashion. This doesn't detract from how utterly badass the entire scene is, however.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: The Mushroom Speedway music sounds like "Music" by Madonna.
- Take That, Scrappy!: One of the last missions involves chasing down Moneybags after he reveals his plans to sell a dragon egg. This mission results in you ramming/torching him around Midnight Mountain, getting back ALL the gems he charged you throughout the game.
- That One Boss: Spike is widely regarded as the hardest boss in the game for various reasons. His fight is structured similarly to Riptos from the previous game, in that both he and Spyro chase down power-ups to use against each other. The trouble is, unlike Ripto, Spike is alarmingly good at leading his base ray-guns shots, which can also destroy some of the munitions Byrd provides you in the fight. To make matters worse, partway through the battle, Spike stomps on and cracks the floor. This causes jets of heat to periodically burst from the crevices, making for even more positioning woes for Spyro. Perhaps most dangerously, Spike gains an unusual projectile from the blue crystal that is also very difficult to avoid: a rope-like beam that Spike trails behind Spyro very closely. Capping it off, Sgt. Byrd does not drop fodder during the fight for some reason, leaving little room for error.
- That One Level: Dino Mines is well-justified in being the final level before the Final Boss. It features some of the game's toughest enemies as well as two of the game's hardest side-missions (an Agent 9 Rail Shooter described below and a fast-paced underwater tunnel segment where you cannot get hit once, which becomes ridiculous once you see the number of explosive crates floating around at the tunnel's very end).
- That One Sidequest: Any of them can count, just like in the previous game, but here are some notable ones.
- One of the most infamous is the Escort Mission where you have to protect Nancy from Rhynoc Hockey Players all while the most annoying song (or pleasurable if you're a sadist) in the game plays. Expect to die many times before succeeding and having That's OK ingrained into your skull. That being said, if you stay as close as possible to Nancy, you can beat it somewhat easily.
- All of Agent 9's missions can be really challenging:
- The First-Person Shooter mission in Fireworks Factory is probably the most infamous, where you have to go through several rooms while shooting down many ninjas with your laser gun, which fires too slow in this situation. There can be a lot of ninjas in one room and it can be hard to take them all down, especially when they keep respawning via Mook Maker. To add to that are the wonky controls that are not programmed for a first-person shooter. And that's not all; after you retrieve the egg, Handel is in trouble and you'll have to go back and save him... by going through the hordes of ninjas once more. To make this easier, you can get a hidden weapon (which is also a Skill Point) which fires more rapidly, but eventually, you'll run out of ammo and go back to using the laser gun.
- Another annoying Agent 9 mission, this time in Dino Mines, is done in an automated Rail Shooter and it's about clearing out some dinosaurs. These said dinosaurs are a pain to get rid of; sniping three or four of them on-screen requires you to be sharp-witted with perfect accuracy on top of it. If not, prepare to be constantly shot at. Health restoration is also missing (besides a Skill Point dino being available halfway, but the player would have to be extremely quick otherwise it's a lost chance) so you can only take about four or five hits before going down, and it doesn't help with this mission taking a while to complete.
- And finally there's the Haunted Tomb mission where Agent 9 is shown in an overhead view, and what happens is that the player gets trapped in one of 5 arenas that you'll have to go through while being cornered by tons of enemies. The more you advance the more enemies that appear, and they range from 20 or so cobras who try and Zerg Rush you to large enemies that you'll need to use their weapons against them to destroy them. Thankfully, there is a glitch that lets the player skip all of this.
- The slide in Crystal Islands, which is relatively simple in terms of the later sidequests in the game but the fact that you can lose lives just by falling makes it a lot more dangerous. There's also the matter of Spyro's slippery controls on the slide being a combination with the tight turns you'll have to maneuver and there's also gems (which you might miss and have to return to the beginning to get) along the way to add to the frustration.
- Haunted Tomb also has the tank battle minigame, where you have to blast some tank-riding Rhynocs with your own. The first round is reasonably fair, but the championship round is almost impossible to do normally due to the tank being very slow and 3 or 4 Rhynocs constantly ganging up on you. It's possible to snipe half of them away, but it requires patience and only works for the last remaining ones that are not in the central arena, where you're most likely to be ganged up to begin with.
- The supercharge areas, because Spyro handles like a drunk pig and it's very, very easy to accidentally steer yourself over the side by turning too hard, all while those taunting bastards with the eggs laugh in your face.
- The Sasquatch Six in the Super Bonus World is this in droves. The entirety of the race track is over a bottomless pit, meaning you cant risk falling off once. If so, youre further behind in the race. Even worse is that there are no barriers to keep you from falling. You need to be on point and accurate with your jumps and turning as much as possible. Then there are the Sasquatches themselves. Right from the beginning they can boost faster, but you dont, making the race damn near impossible to beat. Even after realizing you can kill the blue crabs to gain said boost before the race starts, as well as Dynamic Difficulty kicking in and putting in a cheat code to lower said difficulty, theres still the matter of boosting to go faster, making the controls feel stiff. More often then not itll lead to the player falling off the track. By the end, its all near luck base on whether or not you get first place.
- Bentley boxing the Yeti in "Frozen Altars". The first time isn't so bad and the yeti goes down pretty easy, but the second, 3-round fight can be the bane of a player's existence. The yeti is really good about blocking your hits - since Bentley's slow as a tank - and hitting back in the split seconds before you can block. The yeti's health also goes down slower compared to Bentley's, and he regains health after every round. You must knock him out to win, and outcomes for dubiously-connected hits tend to take the yeti's favor over yours.
- Spooky Swamp's Escort Missions can be just as much of a pain as the Nancy one... to be honest, the first one is quite easy because the first firefly at least follows the road. The second one is a different story... also, unlike with Nancy, you can't just stay close to the firefly, because, while breaking boulders with Sheila is easy, ground-pounding the mushrooms takes longer, and the firefly changes direction at the last second.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Bianca is a major supporting character throughout the game, eventually making a HeelFace Turn just before Spyro reaches the final world. Despite being built up as the perfect character to become Spyro's final playable ally against the Sorceress, she remains an NPC and the game instead introduces Agent 9 as the last playable character to free. As a fledgling sorceress, Bianca would have had just as much room to be an interesting playable character, and was much more relevant to the story.
- In fact, given that every playable character has reason to have a personal beef with the Sorceress the fact that Agent 9 is the only one of them who turns up to help fight her is this trope in itself. The entire fight could've been a multi-stage fight with the whole crew going at the Sorceress in their way.
- She's a perfectly good villain, but the total absence of interaction between the Sorceress and Spyro was felt and noted; especially since the Snark-to-Snark Combat between Spyro and the previous Big Bad was a highlight of that game (and no doubt among the reasons he returned in the sequels, while the Sorceress never appeared again). Spyro doesn't even meet her until the Final Battle, and they don't have a single word to say to each other.
- Underused Game Mechanic:
- Enchanted Towers has both Spyro and Sgt. Byrd playable in its main portion, letting you switch between them via a warp gate. Exploring the same area as two different characters had lots of potential, but this is the only level with such a mechanic; everywhere else, companion characters are restricted to their areas.
- Two of Bentley's four levels are relegated to minigames - while he at least can move around and attack as usual in Crystal Islands' whack-a-mole sublevel, his sublevel in Frozen Altars is dedicated entirely to yeti boxing.
- Supercharge. The Supercharge mechanic was rather prevalent throughout Spyro the Dragon and Spyro 2, and for the most part, it controlled rather well, making it feel like a series staple. However, whereas Spyro the Dragon had Supercharge in seven levels, and Spyro 2 had Supercharge in five levels, one being a boss, Year of the Dragon only features Supercharge in two levels. In fact, whereas Sunrise Spring has Superfly, Midday Gardens has Superflame, and Evening Lake has Supershield, there's no power-up gate for Midnight Mountain, which feels like a perfect fit for Supercharge with the chase after Moneybags in the postgame.
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While we're expected to side with the Seals, the plot of Seashell Shore is kicked off by them stealing the Rhynocs' submarine, taking it for a joyride, and causing it to crash.
- What an Idiot!:
- In each homeworld is a playable character locked in a cage guarded by Moneybags. Moneybags naturally will release them for a bribe, and in every case, the playable character then proceeds to attack him.
You'd Expect: Moneybags after the first attack and especially the second to realize that the next one is probably going to do the same thing and either refuse to release the next playable character for any amount of gems or at least have the foresight to book it immediately after freeing them so they can't.
Instead: Moneybags not only keeps letting the playable characters out but just walks right up to them after doing it and seems to genuinely think that each of them will be grateful for the fact that he released them only to get attacked yet again.
- Moneybags has a new business idea that will make him a fortune: Selling dragon eggs.
You'd Expect: Him keeping it a secret, or at least not talking about it within the earshot of a dragon.
Instead: He outright tells Spyro about it directly in front of him, pissing him off and causing him to attack him and chasing him around Midnight Mountain, making him drop some of his gems as a result.
- Bianca is willing to collect dragon eggs for The Sorceress because she believes The Sorceress needs those eggs to bring magic back to her homeland.
You'd Expect: The Sorceress to keep up the lies and not telling her about what her actual plan with the eggs/babies AT ALL.
Instead: She tells her anyway, sparking her disappointment/dissatisfaction which ultimately leads to her defection to Team Spyro.
- In each homeworld is a playable character locked in a cage guarded by Moneybags. Moneybags naturally will release them for a bribe, and in every case, the playable character then proceeds to attack him.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: In Evening Lake, there is a whale swimming in the deeper regions of the lake. If you swim up to its mouth, the whale will eat you, revealing a dragon egg inside its stomach. The dragon inside the egg is called "Jonah." On the other hand, a lot of these dragons have joke names.
- The Woobie: Bianca. She just wants to become a sorceress and save her magic-dependent homeland, and in the process is constantly degraded by her boss, beaten up by Spyro and Hunter, and then is told that her boss isn't going to take care of the baby dragons, she's going to kill them all.
YMMV / Spyro: Year of the Dragon