Video/Spyro the Dragon/1997 Animation Tests

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Spyro the Dragon · 1997 Animation Tests
Status Released
Transferred by Craig Stitt (gospyro)
Released by Hwd45
File release date May 2, 2021
Media VHS tape
Game Spyro the Dragon
System PlayStation
Genre Platformer
Final build US Aug 13, 1998
EU Sep 10, 1998
JP Feb 26, 1999
Release date US Sep 9, 1998
EU Oct 23, 1998
JP Apr 1, 1999

An extremely early video of Spyro the Dragon for the Sony PlayStation, showcasing animations and testing designs for the titular character.

Download Video/Spyro the Dragon/1997 Animation Tests from external mirror

Notes

A video consisting of three segments:

  • An series of animation tests for Spyro.
  • A set of clips depicting Spyro in multiple different colours, apparently used to experiment with different designs for the character.
  • Animation tests for an enemy that did not feature in the finished game.

As the tape had apparently been overwritten several times, not all of each segment still exists. Additionally, it is unclear over what timescale each of the segments were produced - however, due to the presence of the colour test, it is understood that at least some of this video dates to early 1997. At this point in development, the game would still be months away from even being called Spyro the Dragon, and was instead probably referred to by one of its codenames, Project Pete, around this time.

The VHS originates from one of the game's developers, Craig Stitt. In 2020, he showcased part of this video publicly on his YouTube channel, and the full video was released by Hwd45 in 2021.

Section 1 - Spyro Animation Tests

Animation tests for the main character. A variety of variables are shown at the top of the screen, including the animation state of his head, body and tail. It's likely that these animation states match the way in which they function in the final game - the first two variables being the current animation type and frame, the second two being the next animation type and frame.

Spyro1997vhs-a01.png
Spyro1997vhs-a02.png
Spyro1997vhs-a03.png

Several frames of animation.

Spyro's model differs slightly from the finished product, and in particular the whites of his eyes are vertex coloured polygons in his model, rather than separately textured.

Section 2 - Spyro Colour Tests

As the story goes, Spyro was originally planned to be green, but this was changed at some point in early 1997 to avoid him being difficult to make out amongst all the grass in the game. In addition, it wasn't uncommon for console mascots of the era to be green reptiles or amphibians, and so Spyro needed a design change in order to stand out, both literally and figuratively.

SpyroOriginalConceptGreen.jpg

The earliest known coloured concept art for Spyro, dated roughly February 1997.

This video includes a segment testing over ten different colour schemes for the character, and was intended for use in deciding which one to go for. According to Stitt, Spyro's original green colour was included amongst these, but was overwritten at some point (and so the remaining green coloured Spyro models are actually not the original one he used).

Spyro1997vhs-b05.png
Spyro1997vhs-b06.png
Spyro1997vhs-b07.png

Several different designs.

The location is mysterious and not an obvious match for anything in the finished product, and was likely only created for the sake of giving Spyro a grassy backdrop to compare with. The skybox looks simple and there is a stone structure behind the character which seems to match the structures seen in Stone Hill in the final game. Spyro is seen from two angles, walking in place on a loop. A variety of camera angles are used between clips.

Section 3 - Enemy Animation Tests

According to Stitt, an entire test level was built, featuring a castle and a maze. The enemy seen in section 3 is one which would have featured within this level.

Spyro Concept Map EARLY x4.jpg

The level map created for the test level.

Its design is somewhat similar to the haunted armour which is used in Haunted Towers in the final game.

Spyro1997vhs-c01.png
Spyro1997vhs-c02.png
Spyro1997vhs-c03.png

Several frames of animation.

Screenshots

Video metadata

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Acknowledgments

A huge thank you to Craig Stitt for so kindly allowing the release of this video.