Spyro: Year of the Dragon (Sep 4, 2000 prototype)

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Title Screen
Spyro: Year of the Dragon (Sep 4, 2000 prototype)
Build date Sep 4, 2000 00:00:00
Build name Review
Dump status Released
Released by Hwd45
File release date Jan 21, 2024
Origin CD-R
Labels SPYRO 3 15/09/00
Dump method MPF 2.1 (Plextor PX-W4012TA 1.07)
Ownership Hwd45 (2023-Present)
Game Spyro: Year of the Dragon
System PlayStation
Genre Platformer
Final build US Sep 14, 2000 (Rev 0)
EU Sep 29, 2000 (Rev 0)

EU Oct 24, 2000 (Rev 1)
US Oct 31, 2000 (Rev 1)

Release date US Oct 24, 2000
EU Nov 10, 2000
JP unreleased
Article Crash Bash and Spyro 3
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A prototype of Spyro: Year of the Dragon for the PlayStation. Previously, the September 11th prototype was known as the September 4th prototype - with the release of this build, and a greater understanding of the late development timeline, the aforementioned build has been renamed. As such, one should be aware that there are two review builds that have at one point been referred to as the September 4th prototype.


The Cutting Room Floor research
  • An NTSC-U review build dated about 10 days before the final.
  • Like the first revision of the final game, the file dates do not reflect when the game was actually built. However, there is a build string in the save file information which indicates a build date of September 4th, 2000.
    • A similar string is also seen in the game's demos.
    • The string - SPYRO_3(pal)-v.9.4 - claims the build to be a PAL version, when it's actually NTSC-U. This build string may thus be left over from a slightly earlier version.
    • The string is also present in the later September 11th prototype, but as that build is clearly much closer to release, it's thought that the burn date on the disc is more likely to be accurate than the save file string. By contrast, the date written on the September 4th disc is 15/09/00, a date which is clearly inaccurate to the build date, due to it being after the final build.
  • The game features a different soundtrack to the final release, notably inlcuding tracks that would never be used in any final release as well as tracks that would disappear in the earliest final builds and not be re-implemented until later builds.
  • A number of cutscenes have minor audiovisual differences when compared to their final counterparts.
    • All of the pre-cutscene images are missing, and are instead replaced with an image of an empty Atlas page. Interestingly, the versions of the cutscenes that the final's cutscene images depict appear to be from an earlier point in development than this build.
    • All cutscenes are dialogue-only in this version, missing their music and sound effects (aside from recorded voice-based sound effects, like snoring or burping - rather, sounds used elsewhere in the game and sounds originating from a sound effect library seem to be the ones missing).
    • A number of particles are missing from cutscenes, notably including magic sparkles, fireworks, and the particles produced by Sparx.
    • In cutscenes, Sparx has the wrong color applied to his model, making him appear a very dark blue-black color.
    • The portals to the critter levels are all similarly different in appearance - their level portals are missing, and the portal frames instead appear as if they hadn't been activated yet.
    • In "The Escape!", the camera is much closer to Hunter during the close-up scenes, even including the one where the camera swings in close rather than moving instantaneously. At times, the camera appears to move entirely inside the cage.
    • In both "Bianca Strikes Back" and "Spike Is Born", the cutscene audio ends with a loud popping sound, and the rest of the cutscene stutters dramatically (pausing for roughly 1 second for every 2 seconds of the cutscene).
    • Like other cutscenes, the music is missing from the "THE END" cutscene. The only sound that plays throughout this cutscene are two burping sounds, both of which are identical, and neither match the ones used in the final game. Amusingly, the burps are totally absent in the later September 11th build, despite this build having the music and some of the sound effects for this cutscene.
  • Each of the various anti-crack protection measures are not present in this version of the game.
    • The instance of Zoe in Sunrise Spring which delivers the anti-piracy warning is missing, and thus the text used in this exchange is, too. Additionally, the code associated with this interaction hasn't been implemented, yet. The audio message is present in the STR and assigned to the correct level, however.
    • Modchip protection also appears to be absent.
  • Dongle protection is present in this build, which can stop the game from running on real hardware and certain emulators. The game will reach the Universal logo screen before halting. A dongle file which will circumvent this protection has been included in the release package - this should be inserted into slot 2.
  • Across the game, there are a wide array of missing sound effects, particularly in later levels.
  • Many levels had changes to their moby placement (i.e. the in-game objects), and a fair number of moby models were tweaked slightly, too. This is especially true of the baby dragons, for which a handful were given completely new animations.
  • The title screen audio from Spyro 2 plays instead of the audio used in the final versions of Spyro 3. The music still matches the final, however. The title screen also lacks any of the standard menu sound effects.
  • The game only includes one autodemo, a shortened, altered version of the Sgt. Byrd in Molten Crater demo from the final game.
  • While Skill Points are present, the "Skill Point!" text which displays upon collecting one is not. There's also no Skill Points section implemented in the Atlas, yet.
    • The skill point in the boxing area of Frozen Altars is completely absent in this version. All other skill points are obtainable.
  • The calculations used to determine the player's completion percentage differ from the final game. In addition, both the Atlas and the title screen perform this calculation in different ways, both of which diverge significantly from the final game.
    • The gems collected from the final encounter with Moneybags are erroneously doubled in the title screen calculation, meaning that a full completion of the game can result in the player having anywhere from 98% to 114% completion, according to the title screen. In the final game, this figure is always 117%.
    • A standard full completion of this build will award the player with anywhere from 100% to 103% completion, according to the Atlas, depending on the route the player takes through the game and whether they have (manually) set a progress flag which is erroneously not written to in-game.
  • The final encounter with Moneybags has some notable differences:
    • Moneybags drops exactly 6 individual gems at a time in this build, whereas in later builds he drops many at a time. In addition, the gems he drops seem to be of any variety (with a bias in favor of pink (25) gems dropping more often), rather than only dropping a random selection of yellow (10) and pink (25) gems until the final 100 gems, where he begins dropping gems of any variety. This results in the fight being much, much longer.
    • In the final, the total that Moneybags drops is always deliberately less than or equal to the amount Moneybags has left to give the player. This count is not checked correctly in this build, so it's possible for Moneybags to spit out enough gems to make you go slightly over the intended gem count, causing the HUD and Atlas to desync on how many gems the player has obtained.
  • Many audio dialogue lines are missing or changed, as are a handful of the text dialogue lines.
  • Amusingly, the Atlas contents page lists "Super Bonus Worlds" as "Super Bogus Worlds".
  • The Atlas epilogue section can be viewed from the beginning of the game, rather than requiring you beat the Sorceress and collect 10 skill points, first. All 12 pages of the epilogue can be viewed, too, rather than requiring all skill points in order to view the last six pages.
  • The images used on the level pages of the Atlas are perfectly rectangular and seem to effectively just be cropped screenshots. In the later builds, these images are given an artistic blur effect and the edges of each of these screenshots are worn down.
    • Several of the level screenshots differ from their final equivalents. Most notably, some feature early screenshots of the levels, and Super Bonus Round's uses a recolored version of the Scorch's Pit image with "#50" scribbled over it.
  • The "Quit Game" option in the pause menu quits straight to the title instead of asking the player if they're sure.
  • The locked chest key sprite is a bit different, looking slightly narrower than the one in the final game.
  • There are a few HUD sprites missing in several of the levels late into the game.
  • The world geometry and skybox darkens slightly when the player is underwater, as in Spyro 2. In the final game, this effect was removed entirely.
    • The underwater visuals are particularly noticeable in Evening Lake Home - in particular, the portals appear much darker and cloudier than they do in the final game, and the underside of the surface of the water appears much brighter against the darkened skybox.
    • Additionally, the visuals in the underwater sublevel of Desert Ruins are particularly heavily affected by this effect. The skybox appears much brighter and cloudier than it does normally.
  • Desert Ruins's loading screen skybox has blue lava instead of green, matching the design for the level in earlier builds.
  • Some minigame challenges behave somewhat differently in this version if you finish them and then re-enter the area they're in before leaving the level.
  • The egg requirements for Harbor Speedway and Sorceress's Lair are 100 and 120 respectively, rather than the final's 90 and 100 respectively.
  • Many of the parameters used in the adaptive difficulty system were changed.
  • The save file format in this version mostly matches the final format, but speedway race times are not saved to the memory card.
  • The infamous "speedway bug", wherein the player is locked out of obtaining certain eggs in speedway levels if they've previously failed them, is not present in this version of the game. The issue seems to have arisen following an attempted fix for a different, less serious speedway bug.
  • Similarly, the slightly less infamous bug which causes the "Spike Is Born" cutscene to never play is also absent in this version. The issue seems to have arisen following a slight change in how vehicles determine where to send the player.
  • The "THE END" cutscene is never shown to the player. In the final game, the cutscene is always shown after defeating the final boss, but in this version, the game attempts to check if you've seen the cutscene, first. Unfortunately, it only plays the cutscene if you have seen the cutscene, instead of if you haven't.
  • The credits are not played after the "One Less Noble Warrior" or "THE END" cutscenes, in this version. As such, they can only be seen using the credits cheat code.
  • If a text box or an in-level cutscene plays immediately before a story cutscene starts, the aspect ratio of that interaction will persist into the cutscene.
    • When paying Moneybags to free a critter, the screen borders which are revealed during the dialogue interaction can briefly be seen retreating to the top and bottom of the screen.
    • After defeating the Sorceress, the aspect ratio from the cutscene of her reaching out of the lava remain throughout all of the post-Sorceress cutscenes.
  • The "Level Complete" text does not show up properly in this build. Instead, the "X00/X00" gems counter or the "X/X" eggs counter (whichever was shown most recently) shows up a second time, and "Level Complete" appears very quickly when it disappears.
    • "Level Complete" appears normally upon re-entry to the level, however.
  • Hunter’s cage trap cutscene plays every time the player is in Evening Lake when they’re close enough where the cutscene takes place, rather than only taking place once when the player has finished three of the Evening Lake levels. The corresponding progress flag is not written to by this interaction, so this has no impact on gameplay.
    • If the flag is written to using memory editing or by loading a save file from a later review build, Hunter will disappear as usual. In skateboarding areas, Hunter’s skateboard will still be present despite Hunter being invisible.
  • Exiting Sorceress's Lair sometimes puts the player in an odd position. This is due to some missing spawn data which is present in later versions; without it, the game defaults to spawning them where Sunny Villa's portal exit would usually be.
  • The reticle controls in a couple of the minigames are not up-down inverted as they are in later builds.
  • The tank controls in Haunted Tomb and Sorceress' Lair differ from later builds.
  • A number of changes were made to the Help menus.
  • In Midnight Mountain Home, there is a large hole in the geometry on the back side of the building you start in. This hole was filled in in later builds.
  • Super Bonus Round has a few notable differences:
    • The entrances to each of the sublevels are slightly higher than they are in later builds. As a result, flying into the archways above the doors allows you to enter the sublevels, even if you don't have enough gems to enter the intended way.
    • Boosting in the submarine in this level causes it to move extremely fast.
    • The skateboarding area has many gem baskets, whereas these were all replaced with gems in later builds. Later versions of this level do not include any baskets whatsoever.
    • Bianca is absent from the final area.
    • The dragon is called "Zan Jayna", named after the DC Wonder Twins, instead of "Ying Yang". This is the only dragon in the game with a different name, at this stage of development.
  • Most appearances of Hunter include a pink patch on his arm, as he did in Spyro 2. In some cutscenes, he has brown eyes, as he did in the Japanese version of Spyro 2.
  • In Harbor Speedway, Hunter is, for some reason, standing on the aircraft carrier instead of inside the lighthouse.
  • The model for the Enchanted Towers NPC in Midday Garden Home has a slightly different design, with brown hair and a longer fringe. The hair color still appears to be visible in its low poly LOD model in the final game.
    • This model is present in the later September 11th build, too, but goes unseen in-game in that version.
  • In Enchanted Towers, the explosion sound effect which plays when the sorceress statue gets hit is notorious for how loud it is in the final game. In this version, if anything, it's too quiet!
  • Due to several issues present in this version of the game, only 19950 gems can be obtained under normal means, instead of the full 20000. If you're willing to use some sequence breaking movement and cheat codes to warp to late levels early, this total can be bumped up to 19975.
    • Five green (2) gems in Lost Fleet are set to an incorrect state, causing them to look and act like red (1) gems instead. This loses the player 5 gems they would otherwise have.
    • Some leftover code in Lost Fleet causes one of the submarines to drop gems when it's not supposed to, awarding the player with an extra 150 gems. However, this also results in one of the submarines in Super Bonus Round not dropping its 175 gems, meaning the player loses 25 gems this way. By using cheat codes to play Super Bonus Round first, the player can get around this issue.
    • 20 gems in Haunted Tomb are unobtainable due to enemies not dropping them as intended.


  • The game features a different soundtrack to the final release, notably including tracks that would never be used in any final release, as well as tracks that would disappear in the earliest final builds and not be re-implemented until later builds.
    • Like other builds, levels not assigned their music yet are instead assigned the music for another level. In this version, a track called "Grape" (which was previously heard on Stewart Copeland's website and in the 2022 official Spyro the Dragon OST release) is used by all levels which have not been assigned their final themes, yet.
      • Sunrise Spring Home, Midday Garden Home, Evening Lake Home and Midnight Mountain Home all lack their respective tracks, and thus use Grape.
      • Buzz's Dungeon incorrectly uses Grape, despite its track being finished and implemented. Its finished theme is not assigned to any level in this build.
      • Starfish Reef uses Grape - considering that it's the only level to do so whilst not being a homeworld or a boss level (all of which would get their own themes in the final release), it's suspected that Grape was intended to be Starfish Reef's theme. In the final, it would just reuse the title theme.
      • Sorceress's Lair also uses Grape, though the build additionally includes an unfinished version of the final Sorceress's Lair theme which is not assigned to any level. This unfinished theme is notably darker and more sinister than the final track, which has a somewhat more optimistic tone.
    • Most levels which did not have their own theme in the earliest final release but would get their own themes in NTSC-U Revision 1 use their final themes in this version, albeit with slightly different audio and instrumentation levelling:
      • Mushroom Speedway, Enchanted Towers, Country Speedway, Honey Speedway, Haunted Tomb and Dino Mines all use their Revision 1 themes.
      • Lost Fleet's Revision 1 theme is implemented but is not used by the level. Instead, Lost Fleet uses an entirely new theme which was not present in any final build. This theme is a finished version of the track heard in the April 25th, 2000 Prototype. It's not known why Lost Fleet has two tracks in this version, or if the Revision 1 theme had been intended to be used elsewhere.
      • Crystal Island's Revision 1 theme is implemented but it is instead used by Bugbot Factory, whereas Crystal Islands uses the title theme, a track which is used by Bugbot Factory in the final release. This appears to be a mixup rather than the intended order of these tracks.
    • Crawdad Farm uses a track called Cherry, which was previously heard on Stewart Copeland's website and in the 2022 official Spyro the Dragon OST release, rather than reusing the title theme.
    • Spider Town uses an entirely new theme which had not previously been known to the public.
    • There are additional differences with respect to sublevel and in-game cutscene music:
      • All critter sublevels use the music used by the wider level, rather than using that critter's theme. This is due to the moby code which activates their music not yet being present. As a result, the main area of Enchanted Towers uses its intended theme, rather than reusing Sgt. Byrd's Base's theme.
      • The Cloud Spires belfry music, the Icy Peak ice dance music and the Enchanted Towers bone dance music is all unimplemented and thus never gets used in-game.

Audio Dialogue

  • A number of audio dialogue lines are missing or changed:
    • All Sparx audio dialogue and all but one of Bianca's audio messages are absent.
    • One of Hunter's audio messages in Midday Garden Home ("When you see a ladder...") seems to be a dev recording.
    • One of Bob's audio messages in Icy Peak has an unused duplicate, for some reason.
    • Two audio lines in Bamboo Terrace which are present but unused in the final game are absent from this version. It's not clear why they were given recordings so late into development when they likely hadn't been relevant for months prior to this build.
    • Ling Ling's audio dialogue at the beginning of Bamboo Terrace refers to Evening Lake Home as "Sunset Shore", a previously unheard of name for the level. It's likely that this name had not been used for the level for over 3 months prior to this build.
      • Though not audio dialogue, interestingly, a line of text dialogue in the same level also still refers to a tiger enemy that was likely cut from the game months prior.
    • Two of Hunter's audio messages in Country Speedway diverge completely from his text dialogue, and seem to describe a version of the minigame used in the level which would have been closer to the Mushroom Speedway minigame (even going as far as to mention his plane, which doesn't appear in the mission otherwise).
    • In the final game, The Professor has two unused audio messages in Evening Lake Home. Oddly, in this version he has three!
    • Crazy Ed's "Has anyone seen my pick?" audio message, previously discovered in an earlier demo version of the game, is still present in Lost Fleet. This dialogue is completely unused and was removed in the final game.
    • One of Allgeier's audio dialogue messages ("I've waited 7000 years...") is absent.

Moby Printfs

A number of strings used in debugging are present in this version and are not known to be present in any other version. These are all strings which are printf'd by mobys (the in-game objects).

WARNING!!!  INVALID CLASS %d for spawner %d`

Printed by crawdad and bugbot spawners in Crawdad Farm and Bugbot Factory.

invalid exit data! bossMoby = %d, eggPos = %d

Used by all level exit portals in Sparx levels.

Hey!  MobyUpdate_602 has a path that has no end!  Trying to return to LOS home

Used by the spiders in Spider Town and the ladybirds in Bugbot Factory, relates to issues with moby path data.


Related to moby links in the Spider Town boss, i.e. linking the spider boss to the spawned mini-spiders.

please repair immediately

Two strings used by Hunter in Evening Lake, printed when the moby links used in his cutscene are found to be broken.

SERIOUS ERROR in boss moby #622, sibling spawning failed!

Another moby link message, this time used by the mantaray boss in Starfish Reef, relating to links between each of the mantarays in the boss area.

broken link for moby 953!

Used by a moby related to the Hunter mission in Harbor Speedway.

WARNING... bad init path!, curNode = %d

Another pathing message, used by the bugbot spawner in Bugbot Factory.

bad moby in level 48 boss, #%d

ERROR!!!  %d is following the wrong dude after %d's death!  Status table follows:
%d's state is %d

Several strings used by a moby relating to the boss in Bugbot Factory. The latter is used to print a table of all of the linked moby states.

Test Level

For some reason, leftover data from different builds are included in place of one of the cutscenes:

  • In the final game, this cutscene - occupying level ID 72 - is totally absent. In its place, there are three empty WAD files.
  • In this build, there are three non-empty files - a cutscene overlay, cutscene models and sound effects, and a cutscene level model.
  • The cutscene overlay is unremarkable and just seems to reflect the overlay of an empty cutscene.
  • The cutscene models and sound effects are the ones used in the level intro cutscene for Aquaria Towers in the Japanese version of Spyro 2.
  • The cutscene level model is actually a standard level in a rather unusual format. Analysis of its contents has proven that it is a previously unseen format from some time before the April 25th prototype, and it is just about close enough to that build's format to make it possible to update the level to be playable in that build.

Some notable features of the format of this level:

  • The dragon names component and the dragon models (and their WAD header offsets) are entirely missing, indicating that the build is from before their implementation.
  • The difficulty flags are not set for any moby. These are generally set for mobys in the April prototype, where a very early version of the adaptive difficulty feature is present.

Included with the release are instructions on how to get this level playable. Its most notable features:

  • The test level is for Sheila. Sheila has an early design which somewhat matches her concept art, and notably she has horns on the top of her head.
  • The level contains platforms for testing Sheila's jump heights. Each platform has a number written onto it using a texture, to communicate the height of the platform. These number textures are not seen in any standard level.
  • Several gem baskets are placed throughout this level. Several mobys never seen anywhere else in this game, nor in Spyro 2 - classes 169 and 195 - are also present in this level. As we do not have the level overlay for this level, we can't confirm the behavior of these mobys, but they appear to be for testing each of Sheila's abilities.
  • The Spyro sprite in the HUD animates particularly weirdly. Spyro's eyes are not offset from the rest of his head correctly, and there appears to be a few extra frames for some reason.

Once in the level, Sheila can be played by changing her state to 3, and then to 1. Each of the following GameShark codes can be used in turn to perform these actions:

300A76EC 0003
300A76EC 0001

Cheat Codes

Like the final release, a number of cheats are present in this version, but they differ dramatically from the final game and generally exhibit more debug / QA-like features. All of these can be enabled by inputting the following codes in pause menu.

99 lives R2, L2, R2, L2, Up, Up, Up, Up, O
Big head Spyro Up, Up, Up, Up, R1, R1, R1, R1, O
Dialogue test Square, Square, O, O, Square, Square, O, O
Color change Up, Right, Down, Left, Up, Square, R1, R2, L1, L2, Up, Left, Down, Right, Up, ? The last button determines the color

Red' = O | Blue = X | Pink = Square | Green = Triangle | Black = Down | Yellow = Up

Extra hit point Square, Up, Square, Down, Square, Left, Square, Right, O
Flat Spyro Left, Right, Left, Right, L2, R2, L2, R2, Square
Global difficulty O, Square, Right, Left, Right, Square, O, ? The last button determines the difficulty mode. A lower number means an higher difficulty.

30' (easy) = O | 0 (normal) = X | -40 (hard) = Square

Local difficulty override Left, Right, Square, O, Square, Right, Left, ? The last button determines the difficulty mode. A lower number means an easier difficulty. -1 turns the override off.

-1' = Triangle | 0 = O | 1 = X | 2 = Square

Max collectable totals Square, Square, Square, Square, O Sets all level gem and egg counts to their maxima,

'the total collected gems to 20,000 and the total eggs collected to 154 (which displays as 150)

Level warp Up, Down, Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Square, ?, ? The last two buttons determine the level ID - does not support cutscenes in this version

O' = 0 | 1 = X | 2 = Square | 3 = Triangle | 4 = Right | 5 = Down | 6 = Left | 7 = Up | 8 = R1

Permanent invincibility O, O, O, O, X
Permanent superflame R1, R2, L1, L2, R1, R2, L1, L2, O Causes crashing in levels where the superflame is not present
Squidboard Up, Up, Left, Left, Right, Right, Down, Down, Square, O, Square
View credits Square, O, Square, O, Square, O, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right

The treasure finder cheat isn't present in this build.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Game is emulatable: Yes (as of January 21, 2024).
  • Game contains dongle protection: Yes.