I’ve started to look at the viability of completing Spyro: Year of the Dragon without killing anything.
Spyro 3 is one of my absolute favourite games, and the nature of it means it’s open to various different styles of playthrough. However, because of the way you have to progress through the game, it’s impossible to get through without at least one Rhynoc dying by Spyro’s hand. This is because you have to finish each level in each world before you can move onto the next.
So, rather than a pacifist run, I’ve decided this should be a prime directive run. That is, don’t interfere unless there’s no other choice.
Another rule that I thought about was to count fodder as kills. This would stop you from getting extra health, therefore making the run significantly harder – the only way to restore your health would be to use one of the limited 1-ups dotted around the game. Since I’m streaming this run, I’m going to try not to use fodder unless I’m totally out of health, because constantly dying and game-overing is no fun to watch.
Let’s have a look at each level and see what we can do.
The two collectables in this game are dragon eggs and gems.
Eggs are acquired by completing certain tasks, such as taking out certain enemies or doing other small favours for people. Some can be found just lying on the ground.
Most gems in the game can be picked up off the ground or found inside breakable containers. Almost all the enemies in the game also carry gems – the exceptions being those that come out of infinite spawners. (There’s probably a more eloquent way to write that sentence…) Gems are required to unlock certain levels and progress in others, all thanks to a money-grubbing bear.
100 eggs are needed to face the final boss.
You can 100% this world safely, as there are no enemies about. Watch for sheep, though. Two 1-ups can be found here, which can be saved for emergencies.
You can get at least three eggs here. One enemy has to be defeated to finish the level: a large Rhynoc wielding a giant chicken leg. Otherwise, this one’s super easy to run through; most of the enemies are cowards, and can’t hurt you at all.
Two eggs can be found in the skateboarding section, but unfortunately these require you to kill a bunch of lizards. The in-game dialogue says you’re “catching” them, but c’mon.
I haven’t tried Sheila’s section yet, but I think it can be done with a little agility.
Update: Sheila’s section can be done very easily, in fact. There is a tight corridor with two Rhynocs, one of whom will definitely get a hit on you. Also, be aware that they do chase you around, although they don’t get close enough to hit you. Make sure you don’t get crowded and this bit’s a piece of cake.
This level gives us our first inkling of the difficulties in not killing anything. The small enemies on this level have quite a long reach with their weapons, so you may take a few hits. As a side note, they remind me of Bella from the Tweenies, so that’s how I’ve always referred to them. While the large Rhynocs can’t directly hurt you, they can flap their wings at you and either push you off the edge or direct you towards a lightning-wielding Bella.
In theory, you should be able to get five eggs here. However, there are two eggs which are just laying around. You’d think you’d be able to easily grab them without any fuss, but nooooo. The developers cleverly positioned large Rhynocs in the precise spot you need to stand in order to claim the egg – so unless there’s a way of moving them elsewhere, they’re irritatingly out of reach.
One of the eggs requires you to fly around taking out evil spirits. Since they’re spirits and therefore not technically alive, this one is fair game as far as I’m concerned. In this area, there’s also an egg thief – another very annoying egg that you simply can’t have. Fortunately, there aren’t too too many egg thieves in the game.
This level is far more difficult than I expected, as there are a lot of small spaces and a lot of enemies packed into those spaces. You’ll find sword-wielding armoured Rhynocs, large Indiana Jones types with whips, and hogs.
Oh boy, the hogs. Avoiding them is a pain in the neck, as they chase you around all over. In my research, I discovered that the hogs can take out the sword guys, so that could be useful; but they can also take you out very easily too.
The whip-hands aren’t a massive threat by and large. However, they do block the exit from the first egg you come across, which is down a small ridgeway. If you get that egg, you may have to exit the level and come back in.
There are two egg thieves behind a paywall door, which means two more eggs we can’t have – but also a few hundred gems saved. There are some gems to be found within that area, so it may be worth opening that up just to grab them.
I haven’t yet tried Sgt. Byrd’s area, but it should be pretty straightforward as long as you can avoid the birds.
Update: I was right about Byrd’s section. Just be careful with those rockets.
There’s one enemy on this level you have to kill. Otherwise, pretty much a straightforward run. Most of the enemies will stay out of your way.
Sheila can get two eggs here. Now, you may be thinking – as I was – that the sandcastle egg must be impossible! You surely can’t do that without at least accidentally killing something? And I say to you: it can be done. If you stomp the barrel on each turret, it will blow up without the Rhynocs even taking a scratch! So, with some careful jumping, this is totally viable.
The two other eggs require you to kill folks, so skip those.
To get through this level, you need to escort three goats back to their houses. They won’t move if there’s an enemy in front of them. That means, unfortunately, you can’t finish this level without killing literally everything.
Well, I say everything: there’s one moose hidden in a cave that is allowed to survive. Otherwise, this level kinda spoils the whole run. At least it’s three more eggs in the pouch.
All the speedways are kinda gonna be the same deal. You can do the races, since they don’t involve any major acts of violence – just fighting dirty. The time trials are out of the question, since each one asks you to torch some innocent creature to finish it. However, you can use them to collect a few hundred gems, so that’s something.
Hunter’s sections are also write-offs, except for
one the latter two which I’ll get to later.
I think this one’s a complete avoid. It may well be possible to get through it while only killing the boss, but you’d end up massively overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies. Fortunately, it’s only one egg, so it can be safely skipped.
The rest of the Sparx levels follow suit.
Bosses don’t count, much like in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Besides, it’s Sheila that delivers the final blow…
You can very nearly 100% this level. Only snag is that there’s an egg thief, who taunts you no end.
Side note: I must test if you can get into Enchanted Towers without talking to Hunter. If that’s possible, it may well be possible to finish the game without talking to Hunter at all. That’s for a future instalment of Weird Ways to Play Spyro 3, though.
Totally doable. You have to be very careful with the cannons, however, as you might end up hitting a few birds. Pro tip: cannon shots will go through big Rhynocs’ arms.
The gunners are a bit of a pain, but the real trouble lies with the TNT ferrets (or whatever they are). Fortunately, if you guide them towards a big Rhynoc, that’s a good way of clearing some room. The jury’s still out on whether pushing a TNT towards a rhynoc counts as a kill or just a happy accident.
Nancy the ice skater isn’t viable, since it’s all about those kills. Same deal with the egg thieves, sadly.
This one can just about be done, although you’re missing out on a few eggs. One thing you need to be wary of is that there are a bunch of Rhynocs with pneumatic drills, and if one of them aggros, the camera will lock onto it until you’re no longer in focus. For the most part, this is just a case of moving out of range. However, the one right at the start of the level will start chasing a sheep, and that means the camera will stay locked onto it until one of you dies. Kind of awkward.
Thankfully, the two skating eggs can be obtained this time! That is unless you consider beating Hunter to be a killer blow.
Sgt. Byrd can be used to gather a few extra gems, but otherwise, he’s not much use.
Again, very viable. The one enemy I had trouble with was the big lantern Rhynoc directly at the start, who can very easily knock you off the bridge if you’re not careful. Also, I believe the slingshot guys can take out the crocodiles, for what that’s worth.
Sheila can get two eggs here, plus a whole boatload of gems. Rocks are not sentient: I checked.
Lots of kills required here. Once again, it’s a case of the NPCs (pandas, in this case) refusing to move unless you take out certain enemies. I’m not sure which ones specifically need to be taken out, but I’m pretty sure it was always water buffalo. One exception: the big Rhynoc that’s specifically chasing a panda around a house.
Getting past a big Rhynoc is a case of getting just outside his range, then letting him attack. If he misses, he’ll spend ages checking his umbrella, which gives you ample time to simply walk on by.
I haven’t tried Bentley’s area yet, but I imagine it’ll be doable. Just hard.
Update: Bentley’s section isn’t that difficult after all. Use the trick I mentioned above to get round some of the more awkward Rhynocs.
Further update: csavar10 on Reddit has pointed out that the firework-wielding Rhynocs and the water buffalo can be coerced into taking out bad guys on your behalf. This trick can also be used to deal with the egg thief, netting you an extra egg. Combining all these together, it’s possible to whittle the required kills down to just one for this level. Here is their comment, complete with some useful videos, in case you wanted to give it a go.
Sgt. Byrd’s Base
For the most part, you can get through this level without harming a soul. Unfortunately, it’s yet another case of animals being wimps. This time, there’s a section right at the end where the hummingbird won’t budge until you clear out a few bad guys. I’m not sure if she’s looking for a specific kill or just everything between her and the end of the level.
The hummingbirds can be freed without much trouble. One of them is hidden underground, and you need to use a bomb to get to her. Where you need to drop the bomb, there are two Rhynocs hanging around. Fortunately, the bomb’s blast radius just misses them.
See Mushroom Speedway, but with even fewer gems to snag. Poop.
You can get everything here – hooray!
One (1) kill is required here – the second snowman. Only the second, you say? Why, yes – I discovered that you can safely glide past the first snowman if you jump up onto the pyramid first. I couldn’t find a way to get past the second one safely; trying to kite it then run past was fruitless, and freezing an elephant doesn’t quite get you enough height, either.
Also, this is the one level where Spyro’s able to neutralise enemies non-violently: by freezing them! If only we had access to that ability all the time.
Beware of the elephants, because they can get you in a lot of trouble.
You should be able to get all the eggs here, as yeti boxing doesn’t count as a kill. Unless you play as Balrog.
Update: two more eggs from yeti boxing. The trick is to just keep jabbing – if you get the timing down right, you can walk all over that yeti.
Only two available here: Crazy Ed’s treasure, and swim through acid. The first skateboard race could potentially be viable, if you manage to dodge every crab. Depending on how you look at it, the submarines may be allowed – from what I recall, nowhere is it stated that there’s anyone inside the subs. So, I guess it’s up to you.
Also, you need to make sure you’re quick on your feet; otherwise, those crabs will rip ya’ a new one. Surprisingly, the ghosts aren’t too much of a problem – just make sure you keep moving so they can’t throw stuff at you.
Update: a third egg can indeed be picked up from the first skateboard race. But, of course, you need to watch out for crabs: both en route to the race and on the course itself. I suggest taking the long way round and swimming through the acid to get to this area’s entrance, otherwise you’ll take a lot of unnecessary hits.
Surprisingly doable! The ninjas aren’t much of a threat, since after they’ve finished jumping around, they tend to just stand there gormlessly. The big Rhynocs are easily avoidable, too. One thing to look out for are the gunners; though, these have the benefit of allowing you to take out ninjas indirectly.
You should be able to get at least three eggs here.
I haven’t managed to do Ninja HQ yet, and I haven’t tried Agent 9’s section either. However, I expect that with a little perseverance, both should be just about doable. The twin dragons, of course, are off the table.
Update: Ninja HQ is a doddle. Another egg get!
A tricky one, but you can walk away with five eggs from this level. The crossbowmen aren’t terribly challenging as long as you keep out of their way as much as possible – it’s the lancers you need to be wary of, for the same reason as the crabs. However, if you manage to lure them over the edge (or get a stray crossbow bolt to hit them), you’re laughing.
Sgt. Byrd’s section is, of course, out of bounds.
only first flight in the game where you can play as Hunter! Hooray! I haven’t done it yet because he was still imprisoned when I got here, but since the minigame simply involves him boating down a river, it’s totally valid. Update: I’ve done it, and the sheep crashes into the boiling honey river of his own accord. No kills, and an egg for us!
Otherwise, same as before: get a few gems from the Time Trial, and win the race against the exotic bees. Two more eggs in the bag.
We’ve got another scaredy-cat situation here. Bartholomew will not move until you clear his path of enemies. Unlike Sheila’s Alp, however, this doesn’t count every enemy in the level: and you don’t actually have to kill the Rhynocs in the caves! I found out that if the camera isn’t pointing towards a bad guy, they won’t attack. This isn’t completely infallible, but could help get around some sticky situations.
You can get everything
except for the egg thief. Honestly, I’m not sure what the criteria is for getting Egg for Sale, though I believe it’s just a case of buying everything from Moneybags. I’ve avoided buying certain things because I didn’t need them – for example, the ice skating minigame in Icy Peak – so I wonder what’ll happen in that case. Maybe it’ll open up automatically, and just not give me the gems I didn’t spend?
Update: you get Egg for Sale after defeating the Sorceress, and everything you didn’t buy gets opened up automatically – including something very interesting which I’ll talk about later on. Also, something very interesting happens: I didn’t take out the egg thief, but when I beat the Sorceress, his egg was just lying on the ground outside Desert Ruins. So you can, in fact, 100% Midnight Mountain.
You can take four eggs home from here – however, you’ll need to kill two flying beavers and a bear, otherwise the associated gnomes won’t talk to you.
Again, there’s a little ambiguity here: so it’s up to you if Whack-a-Mole counts as killing or just, ahem, “light taps on the head”.
I was surprised to find that you can get five out of six eggs here! It’s quite difficult, though, since everything has a somewhat ranged attack. Once again, make sure you’re good at constantly charging. The only one you won’t be able to get is Shark Shootin’, because, unfortunately, there are Rhynocs sat on top of the sharks. Maybe you could handwave that one as collateral damage, since you were aiming for the sharks…
Sheila’s section is tricky, but doable, and stray scorpion shot can take out some of the bad guys too! It’s turning out useful, all this projectile-based malarkey.
Only three eggs are available here. Not much else to report in terms of the enemies; they’re a lot easier to deal with in this level. Keep an eye on the exploding rocks, and take out the spawners, and you’ll have no trouble. Even the charging Anubis dogs are pushovers, since they have to go through a lengthy wake-up animation first.
Agent 9’s knockoff Smash TV section is entirely out of the question, as you probably guessed.
Once again, a surprisingly high turnout – four eggs! The trick of turning the camera away is also very helpful here, although a lot of the time, the camera will point directly towards the various machine-gunning triceratops. Watch your flanks.
The mine shaft can be completed without hitting the enemies inside, unlike the one in Seashell Shore.
Once again, Agent 9 is of no use here. Poor guy probably feels really lonely…
I totally forgot that Hunter’s minigame here is pacifist-friendly too! Clock this one, along with the race against the non-blue-footed-blue-footed-boobies, and you’re onto a winner.
Agent 9’s Lab
You’ll note that we did precisely none of Agent 9’s levels throughout the game. As a matter of fact, I never unlocked him at all. He stayed in the cage until the bitter end. So what happened?
Well, because I beat the sorceress and gave Moneybags a good hiding, it opened everything up. Including Agent 9’s Lab. But, instead of just opening the level, he was stood outside.
It seems that at some point during development, there weren’t any cutscenes planned for freeing the animals; they’d simply stand outside their home worlds and welcome you in with a short greeting. This was, obviously, changed before release, and we got to see Moneybags getting his arse kicked several times instead. However, the greetings still exist within the code, so if you were to hack the game to remove the cage – or move whoever was inside – you’d be able to see this unseen interaction. The funny part is that, even though Agent 9’s is the only one of these interactions you can see during normal gameplay, his was the only one they didn’t record voice lines for.
The Cutting Room Floor has more details on this, plus the voice lines that were recorded despite these interactions not making it to the final game. Oh, and one other thing: for some bizarre reason, these voice lines were re-recorded for the Reignited Trilogy – despite still being unused! What’s all that about?
It’s an interesting little look at what could’ve been – and thankfully wasn’t, because what we ended up with was much cooler.
I think that while we must totally discount the idea of completing this game without killing anyone at all, it’s possible to limit your damage to only what’s necessary and still beat the game. In the end, I finished up with a total of 103 eggs – the final three were Defeat the Sorceress, Catch the Thief, and Egg for Sale. And I believe these to be the absolute maximum you can get while avoiding unnecessary carnage – though, if you find any more, I’d love to hear about it.
For the record, I also snagged 8,944 gems overall. You could get more, but I wasn’t religiously going for gems beyond the ones I needed.
All in all, this was a very fun experiment, and I encourage you to give it a try. Now, how about Crash Bandicoot: Warped…
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