October 24th, 2020 marked the 20-year anniversary of Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon releasing in North America. I still vividly remember how excited I was when my parents gave me a PS1 for Christmas along with the third iteration of the Spyro trilogy. I instantly fell in love with the small purple dragon and despite hundreds of hours invested in all three installments of the original trilogy, I still feel the same level of excitement whenever I begin a new Spyro save.
In honor of the recent milestone, I decided to rank all 37 levels found throughout Spyro 3. From the regular realms to the boss fights and everything in between, I’ve provided thoughts and opinions for all 37 worlds. Enjoy!
Sidenote: I replayed the Greatest Hits PS1 version for the purposes of this article, not the Reignited version that was released in 2018.
37: Buzz’s Dungeon
Sheila describes Buzz as a “wussy green toad” which turns out to be an accurate depiction. The music is cool and this boss battle serves as a fine introduction to the remaining three, but those are about the only two positives. Bland is probably a bit harsh but Buzz’s Dungeon leaves at least a little to be desired.
36: Spike’s Arena
This might be my least-favorite boss fight throughout the entire trilogy, but Spike presents a good challenge (at least in the original version of the game and not the Reignited version). His arena looks intimidating and the atmosphere overall is much better than what you’ll find with Buzz.
35: Honey Speedway
My fear of bees as a young lad always put this speedway pretty low on my Spyro 3 totem pole, but even now I still prefer the other three to this one. The concept is neat but the world as a whole is just fine, and the Hunter egg in this speedway isn’t as fun to get as the other three.
34: Crawdad Farm
Being able to play as Sparx (if only for short spurts) is a nice change of pace and a welcome addition in Spyro 3. The Crawdad Farm world takes about as long to complete as the tutorial where you learn how to control the famous dragonfly but it’s still a neat peak into what’s to come.
33: Sorceress’s Lair
A fitting end to the main story. The boss fight itself isn’t so much an annoyance as it is just something else you have to check off the list to complete the game. Getting to use three different types of vehicles during the battle makes everything a bit more intriguing than it otherwise would be.
32: Harbor Speedway
The highlight of this speedway for me has always been the baby dragon named Kobe. Chasing the flying sheep saucer with Hunter isn’t half bad, either.
31: Scorch’s Pit
My favorite boss fight in the game (yes, even more than the Sorceress). Bentley gives a rousing motivational speech that really sets the scene, and the music helps build up the notion that this is a crucial moment in the game. Scorch himself isn’t terribly difficult to take down but he’s still challenging enough for the fight to be interesting.
30: Mushroom Speedway
Perhaps it’s because it’s the first speedway you gain access to but I’ve always had a soft spot for Mushroom Speedway. The aesthetic is enjoyable for me and getting to shoot down the sheep saucers with Hunter is definitely a big highlight.
29: Spider Town
A bit more intricate than the first Sparx world, Spider Town actually presents a nice challenge. The final boss is still relatively simple but you can have a good time getting through the entire level of spiders and forcefields.
28: Bugbot Factory
It might not be the most visually pleasing Sparx world in Spyro 3 but Bugbot Factory still holds its own. The enemies (including the final boss) are amusing to battle against as you traverse your way through the final world with your trusty dragonfly.
27: Bentley’s Outpost
As an ally, Bentley is likable and a joy to be around. As a playable character, he’s obviously a little stiff because of how large he is which makes his home realm and his subsequent side challenges a bit of a hassle. Bartholomew also seems to be the prototypical younger sibling with the way he acts; I personally always find it comical but I’m an only child so maybe that’s why.
26: Lost Fleet
The common cliché “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work” applies here. Lost Fleet has never been one of my favorite realms but it does have its redeeming qualities that make it enjoyable. The third skate course in the game is fun and Crazy Ed makes for a great ally throughout the world.
25: Midday Garden Home
This is my least favorite homeworld in Year of the Dragon although that’s not meant to be an indictment; rather, it’s a compliment towards the other three. The layout and design of Midday Garden Home is cheerful and it houses some of my favorite worlds in the entire game.
24: Sgt. Byrd’s Base
Sgt. Byrd’s home isn’t necessarily a bad world but I definitely most of his side missions throughout the game a lot more than his objective of saving hummingbirds in Sgt. Byrd’s Base. Regardless, this is a nice introduction to using another ally that will help you take down the Sorceress.
23: Sheila’s Alp
After paying 300 gems to Moneybags, you’re able to control the first side-character of the game in her home world. Billy, Pete, and Bobby have great personalities and Sheila is very satisfying to control, much more so than the other three controllable allies in my opinion.
22: Country Speedway
My favorite speedway out of the four in the game. The time attack is fun, racing the planes is a good time, and controlling Hunter in a jetpack as he shoots space cows and sheep saucers is the icing on the cake. The farmland world design with the autumnal color palette makes this a great world to experience in the fall as well.
21: Haunted Tomb
The placement of this world might be a bit unpopular but I’ve just never really warmed up to Haunted Tomb. The dogs are all good boys and traversing through the catacombs is exciting but that’s about it for me. The hovercraft tournament and Agent 9 having to fight through the five trials of King Rover have always been more chore-like.
20: Midnight Mountain Home
It doesn’t quite live up to Winter Tundra, but this final homeworld still gets the job done. By this point, you’ve had the opportunity to collect 108 eggs which is more than enough to face off against the Sorceress immediately if you so choose. Aside from that, the inevitable Bianca face turn is great and I’ve always thought the layout of this homeworld is beautiful. It’s a nice way to begin the final leg of your journey to defeat the take down the evil Sorceress.
19: Molten Crater
The atmosphere for this world is a stark contrast to the other Sunrise Spring worlds which is why it stands out to me so much (in a good way). The tikis are cool but I think the enemies are a bit more interesting, especially the bullwhip rhynocs. Getting to chase two egg thieves (including one with the supercharge ability) is a lot of fun too.
18: Starfish Reef
The best Sparx world in the game and it’s not even close. It’s completely underwater and the world itself always makes me think of summer. The stingray at the end is also a nice challenge, especially when it splits into two smaller stingrays. Overall, this is an awesome world to navigate.
17: Spooky Swamp
I was never a big fan of this world as a kid but I’ve grown to like it more over the years. All of the characters (even Moneybags!) speaking solely in haiku is an exceptional touch and the realm itself truly nails the spooky vibe that it’s going for. Using Sheila to help the two bomb-wielding fireflies remains a small hassle but overall Spooky Swamp is solid.
16: Agent 9’s Lab
You get to control an uber-excited, laser-wielding monkey on a remote island in the middle of nowhere. The professor also makes his first appearance of the game after holding a much bigger role in Spyro 2. What’s not to like?
15: Super Bonus Round
I personally enjoyed Dragon Shores more than this, but the Super Bonus Round is a fine alternative. Catching the gem thieves, shooting rhynoc submarines, racing against the Sasquatch Six, taking down the flying sheep saucers, and putting the Sorceress away for good—this realm has something for everyone.
14: Sunrise Spring Home
Where it all begins. I remember being left in awe when I booted up Spyro 3 for the first time as a kid and I still experience that same feeling many years later when I drop into Sunrise Spring Home and begin a new game. From the upbeat music to the beautiful skybox, this homeworld will always be one of my favorites.
13: Evening Lake Home
The best homeworld in the game and you’ll never be able to convince me otherwise; it’s an instant stress-reliever. The tremendous castle, the elite music track, the incredible dusk skybox—Evening Lake is perfect. Swimming into the mouth of a whale to find one of the home world’s five eggs? Yeah, that’s pretty swell, too.
12: Sunny Villa
It’s a basic, almost tutorial-style world but Sunny Villa is still fun regardless. I’ve always loved Councillor George, Mayor Leo, and the citizens, and you’re also presented with the first skate park of the game. Sunny Villa gives you the first opportunity to use Sheila outside of Sheila’s Alp as well. It might not be as memorable as some of the other levels throughout the game but it’s a fun way to get your journey kickstarted.
11: Enchanted Towers
The skybox for this world is lovely and there’s so many things to do. Blowing up the statue of the Sorceress, skating with Hunter in the ultra-cool skate park, helping a dog reunite with its owner, and collecting bones for an old friend from Skelos Badlands with Sgt. Byrd—all of these objectives help make Enchanted Towers a great place. Sidenote: the bone dance never gets old.
10: Charmed Ridge
This realm personifies a fairy tale to perfection and the atmosphere throughout is top-tier. Helping the princess escape to elope with the prince (who has a rockin’ motorcycle) is a nice plotline and helping Jack reach his golden goose with the help of magic beans is something I look forward to each time I visit Charmed Ridge. Shooting down the cat witches with Sgt. Byrd, though? Let’s just say I enjoy collecting other eggs more than that one.
9: Fireworks Factory
As the backdrop to the main menu, Fireworks Factory lives up to the hype as one of the most well-known worlds in any Spyro game. Greta and Handel make their long-anticipated return and while I think I appreciated them in Spyro 2’s Scorch a bit more, they’re a welcome sight here. Some people aren’t fans of shooting down the dragons with your superfly/superflame combo but I personally enjoy it, and the Agent 9 level is good fun as well.
8: Crystal Islands
It’s a quick world but there’s still some neat ways to find eggs, and the purple/pink color palette that was used meshes super well with the night sky. The slide challenge is reminiscent of Mario 64’s, and using the superfly power-up to chase the egg thief’s plane around is a unique way to incorporate another egg thief. The magical gnomes are also some of the best allies in the game.
7: Frozen Altars
Gabrielle giving Spyro the ice breath ability as soon as the world loads up gives Frozen Altars a unique twist compared to the other worlds in the game. The music track is fun to listen to and playing cat hockey against the rhynoc is thrilling, but this realm gets knocked down a couple of pegs because of the chore that is the Bentley boxing side challenge. Moneybags seemingly swindling the entire world kind of makes up for it, though.
6: Cloud Spires
Seashell Shore is my favorite world from the Sunrise Spring grouping but Cloud Spires isn’t far behind. I always thought it was neat how the weather imps are named after clouds, and the enemies are some of my favorites in the entire game. The sun seed and bell tower eggs are fun to get, and chasing an egg thief around is always a good time.
5: Desert Ruins
The upbeat music and bright blue skybox make this a world that is always worth revisiting. Controlling Sheila in what’s essentially a short and simple 2D platformer is actually pleasurable, and Hunter’s manta ray (and, essentially, the general world design) makes a return from Spyro 2’s Aquaria Towers which is a nice touch.
4: Seashell Shore
This was my favorite world out of the Sunrise Spring Worlds as a kid and it remains my favorite to this day. The colors are bright and welcoming and the is music track outstanding. There’s a lot of fun things to do here as well: from helping the seals destroy the sand castle with Sheila to facing off against Bluto’s shark submarine, you’re always in for a treat when you visit Seashell Shore.
3: Dino Mines
An old-timey Western-themed realm, complete with gun and dynamite-wielding dinosaurs? This world was obviously going to be a big hit. Going first-person with Agent 9 to take out the Bailey gang is much more entertaining than the similar challenge in Fireworks Factory, and the world as a whole is easy to get enjoyment out of.
2: Bamboo Terrace
This world was one of the primary reasons why pandas cemented themselves on the list of my favorite animals. The design and layout are top-notch and the music track is one of the best in the entire game. Chasing the egg thief around the map is a fun challenge and shooting rhynocs with the superflame power-up is a nice added bonus.
1: Icy Peak
The skybox, the lighting, the snow falling, the music, the polar bears, the egg thief track, Nancy and the hockey rhynocs—all of these components make Icy Peak one of my favorite realms in any Spyro game. This is a fantastic winter-themed world and I eagerly look forward to replaying it each time I load up Year of the Dragon.
(Photo Credit: IGN)