Spyro, the little purple dragon originally created by Insomniac Games, has appeared in more than a dozen different games since his debut in 1998. His games span just about every modern platform, but the little guy hasn't aged well at all. It's without surprise, then, that Spyro has found his way to the Nintendo DS in the form of Spyro: Shadow Legacy. Spyro's spotty reputation isn't going to be rectified with this release, because Shadow Legacy lacks any sort of depth or challenge, making it suitable only for very young or otherwise undemanding audiences.
Spyro makes his debut on the DS with a half-hearted action adventure game with some thin RPG elements tacked on.
The game begins with Spyro on vacation at a tropical resort, when all of a sudden a strange storm approaches and draws everyone into an alternate dimension known as the shadow realm. Spyro is unaffected by this weirdness, so it's up to him to free the Dragon Elders from their confines in the shadow realm. Once freed, the elders help Spyro develop his magical powers and special abilities, empowering him to save the world and defeat the mysterious evil that has shrouded the land in shadow.
The world is full of dimensional gates that Spyro can use to hop between the shadow realm and the real world. These gates are always conveniently placed to make it abundantly clear exactly when and where you're supposed to switch from one world to the other. The reason you need to do this is that some items and creatures exist only in the shadow realm, and vice versa. The creatures in the shadow realm are predictably more fearsome, and everything is a bit more purple and gray, but otherwise the two worlds are identical. Spyro's abilities do change ever so slightly depending on which realm he's in. He can glide a bit further in the shadow realm, but he can't burn objects like tree stumps or shrubs with his fire breath while he's there. Again, these limitations never hinder your progress, because there's always a dimensional gate nearby when you need one.
The world in Shadow Legacy is divided into four small continents, which are each further divided into habitats for various species, including moles, armadillos, cheetahs, bears, wizards, cavemen, fairies, and, of course, dragons. You travel from spot to spot freeing each of these creatures, at which point you can choose to accept miniquests from them to get extra experience or helpful items. Some of these quests are required to complete the game, and others can be ignored--though the game annoyingly offers no indication of which are required and which are optional. The quests are all simplistic collection tasks that don't take much time or effort to complete. You'll have to find some ice cream for a fairy, collect ingredients to make medicine for a sick cheetah, find bones to build an altar for the cavemen, and so on. If they were more fleshed out, the quests would provide a nice diversion, but as is, they're just too simple and short-lived to be any fun at all.