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The Legend of Spyro: Cynder's Beginning (CYN)

Original Poster: Great Commander Alex Vaughn

The Legend of Spyro: Cynder's Beginning (CYN)

Great Commander Alex Vaughn

An Introduction

ActiVision-Blizzard's The Legend of Spyro series is the first reboot of the popular Spyro the Dragon series, consisting of three games:

~The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning - Released in 2006

~The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night - Released in 2007

~The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon - Released in 2008

The series was centered on the famous purple dragon locked in a series of quests to prevent the return of the evil purple dragon known as Malefor, or the Dark Master, aided by a young female dragon his age known as Cynder. During the events of A New Beginning, Cynder's egg was kidnapped from the mystical Dragon Temple by an evil army of apes led by their commander, named Gaul. From there, she was hatched and corrupted by Gaul, Malefor, and their respective allies, turning her into a monstrous dragon who hoped to harness the power of the four elemental guardians: Ignitus, Guardian of Fire; Volteer, Guardian of Electricity; Cyril, Guardian of Ice; and Terrador, Guardian of Earth. It was young Spyro's mission to prevent the Dark Master's release by rescuing the guardians, and in the end he not only managed to prevent Malefor's release from his otherworldly prison, but also managed to 'purify' Cynder of her corruption, saving her from certain death. This story gives a twist on ANB's plot, telling the story from Cynder's viewpoint, but soon veering far from the canonized ending.

The Story

I was never a stickler for any games in the Spyro the Dragon series...I mean, I had heard of them, but I never really had a chance to play them. Usually, the most video game consoles I owned at a time were a computer, my GameBoy Color, and one of the older consoles, such as a Sega Mega-Drive/Genesis, the Sega Dreamcast, or a Nintendo 64.

About five or six years ago, my parents bought my siblings and I a PlayStation 2 for Christmas, so, naturally, I went on a buying spree, trying to purchase as many games as I could. For a couple of years, I played such classics as Crash Bandicoot, James Bond, Medal of Honor, and Call of Duty. Then, one New Years Day, I decided I wanted to try to play a Spyro video game, especially after borrowing and playing Crash Bandicoot Purple from a friend.

My father took my siblings and I to a local used video game store, where I was lucky enough to find a copy of The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning for $10. I instantly bought it, and when I came home, I decided to try and play it. When I opened the box, I first noticed that “CYN” had been scratched into the inside of the box, but everything was otherwise pristine. At first, I didn't understand what they meant, but I passed it off as the former owner's initials. I started up the game, and instantly fell in love with it, especially the main character, and even the mysterious Cynder, the primary antagonist of the first game in the LoS trilogy. It was when I had turned on the subtitles and saw the name “Cynder” mentioned that I realized that the “CYN” scratched into the box could have been someone attempting to write Cynder's name.

I can't recall how many times I've played and beat the game, each time is much more enjoyable than the last, and since I've acquired the remaining two games, The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night, and The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon, my love for the series has increased tenfold. In real life, my obsession with the games got to the point where I dreamed of being with Spyro and Cynder, of them being my friends, of them being real, which was comforting considering that I am NOT a social person, I'm more of a Lone Wolf...

Of course, I soon fell into Spyro and Cynder's notorious fanbase of reptile lovers...known as Scalies...and even started looking into and enjoying the questionable art concerning Spyro, Cynder, and both of them together as a couple. Then one day, I discovered ROMs and Emulation, and I decided to try and make my own. Now, I didn't know a whole helluva lot about ROMs, only that the programming was a Copy/Paste of the actual game's programming, translated by the Emulator that can read the data. I popped the LoS: ANB disc into my computer and opened up the game's folders. It was amazing, so many hundreds of data files, the organs of the body that was the game. Utilizing a guy I knew who could build games, I asked him to help me organize the labyrinthine heaps of data core files. As he scrolled through them, I heard him exclaim, “Oh!”

Of course, I asked, “What?”

He then turns to me and says, “This...this doesn't belong here...”

He then showed me a zipped, archive folder labeled, “CYN” lost in the opened folders and files of the rest of the game's data core files. I remembered the carving on the box, and showed him it. He then looks at me with this puzzle look and says, “I wonder what this is, then,” and he unzips and opens the .RAR folder. The files looked normal to me, and he explained that these didn't seem to belong here, they even had a different file extension from the others. I asked him if he could somehow open the files to see what they were, and he left after saying he thought he had something that could probably help me.

He returned with a flash drive, installing some odd program onto my computer before he imported the folder to the program. He then converted the files to a playable format, and burned them onto a blank disc, handing me the result. I asked him how I could play it, and he said that it should be readable on my computer.

I was overjoyed, and that night, I decided to try it, happy about the potential for an unknown Easter egg, something nobody else had discovered before, except for the previous owner of my game. Using my PS2 emulator, I booted the ROM and watched as the game showed a black screen with a small, cartoonish Spyro icon smiling in the center of the screen, the beginning of the normal run. After a few moments, the icon disappeared, showing the beautiful, magma-orange river, lined by emerald green plants with the brilliant golden sunrise in the sky. The egg still rested on the mushroom's cap, floating on the river, the usual main menu screen...but the music was gone, and the egg in the cap was black...not purple. The longer the main menu stayed, the river became more and more red...almost like blood, the green land darkened almost to black, and the skies became a bloody red.

Confused, I watched as it loaded the title, and it now said, “The Legend of Spyro: Cynder's Beginning”. The color of the title was black as pitch, except for the “Cynder's Beginning” which looked to be in Chiller format, and was red as blood, which seemed to be bleeding down and dripping into the river.

I was amazed, astounded, it was unbelievable! Cynder's side of the story for the game? I never felt more joy in my life! I'm ecstatic just remembering it...

I selected “New Game” and it came out with the empty list of save files. I selected the top and waited. After the loading screen, it showed Ignitus' monologue and the attack on the temple, however, after the purple egg had been rescued and Ignitus issued his trademark, “May the Ancestors look after you! May they look after us all!”, it then flashed to an army of apes, led by a massive, big ape, who I recognized to be Gaul, the antagonist of the second game in the series, who had made a cameo appearance in one of the first game's final cutscenes. This cutscene showed Gaul leading his army to the edge of the temple, and he issued a series of inaudible orders in his usual, corpse-like voice.

With a battle cry from the apes, they all scattered, shooting forward, and the screen centered on Gaul, now in the third person. I depressed the “W” key, and Gaul moved forward, “A” and he moved left, “D” he moved right, and “S” he moved back, now facing the screen. I was playing as Gaul!

Using the mouse, the camera angle moved at an inverted angle, and the phrase, “Prologue: Assault on the Temple” appeared, followed by an objective that appeared on screen, “Head to the Temple”. I charged forward through the dark, mushroom swamp, the skies alight with fire, surrounded on all sides by apes. The temple loomed far in the distance, a black shadow against the dark skies. Gaul was extremely overpowered with melee moves, and easily took out the numerous creatures: Frogweeds, Beatles, and the like, that lived around the area. The further I got along, I noticed that the graphics were disturbing...these apes were not just cheaply killing the creatures, they were slaughtering them. Each strike of their claws caused blood to spew and soak into the ground, and the corpses to be mangled beyond recognition. About a third of the way through the temple, there was a roar, and Cyril, the ice guardian, landed and yelled, “YOU WILL NOT COME THROUGH HERE!”

Then, a green health bar, showing Cyril's face, appeared on screen, and I was thrown into a boss battle. My melee moves were effective, but it was at this point that I realized that I could use my swords. Every slash of my swords caused a red, slime-like fluid to shoot out, the first time I slashed, a thin red line appeared, and the more I slashed, the more cut up and bloody the guardian got and the bloodier my swords grew, and by the time I had defeated Cyril and he fell to the ground, I was covered in blood and the front of his torso had been shredded open, to the point where his ribcage was visible out of globs of red. It seemed as if something like Call of Duty: World at War's gruesome detail had been meshed into the game, and even though the cartoony dragons clashed with the bloody sight...it was still very disturbing. Much care had gone into making the blood fit in, even to the point where whomever had built this hidden extension had tried to up the guardian's graphics level a bit, and reduce the gore's realism. The blood on me had a Skyrim effect, as in, the more I moved, the blood faded away until I was normal-looking.

We were now at the door of the temple, and another roar, issued by a command of, “LEAVE HERE, DESECRATORS OF THE TEMPLE” boomed. Volteer landed, rambling on in his usual way, only his comments were lined with insults, and gruesome quotes such as, “I will bathe in your spilled blood,” and “I will feast on your innards.”

The boss battle with him was similar to Cyril, and both of the guardians' move-sets were nearly identical to Cynder's in the normal game, with exception to their respective elemental breaths. After he was defeated, we marched into the temple, and as I left through the door, the screen cut to black, a loading screen. The cutscene showed Gaul regrouping with what I assume to be his squadron, and he says something along the lines of, “Spread out and find the Purple Dragon egg, it cannot be destroyed! I want it alive!”

After the cutscene, I regained control of Gaul, and a new objective appeared, reading, “Locate the Egg Room”. I found the Egg Room, where another cutscene showed a bloody, gore-covered Gaul walking in, standing as he glanced around the room, a look of pure fury and rage on his face. He walked up to the pedestal where the purple egg would normally rest, and he struck it with his arm. The pedestal went flying off the platform, smashing against the wall, and Gaul roared as he ordered to his congregation of apes, “Destroy ALL of them!”

As the apes commenced their destruction. Terrador, flanked by Cyril and Volteer, had landed, executing a three-part boss battle. Terrador's health bar was green, while Cyril's and Volteer's had been reduced to red. All three were easily defeated, and another objective appeared, reading, “Steal an Egg”. I searched for an egg that was still alive, but almost all of them were smashed, a bloody mess. I couldn't take the carnage for too long, and I soon found the only egg that could be stolen, the black one...Cynder's. The final cutscene of the prologue showed the clip of one of the final cutscenes in the normal game, the one where Gaul stole the egg.

The first cutscene of the first mission showed Cynder, looking very young, and locked in a jail cell...and this is where things grew very disturbing. She was crying as she was dragged by the tail by Gaul. She was taken to an odd portal, and as they entered, the game was swept away to Convexity, where Cynder was thrown to the ground next to the portal that she would place the “batteries” in the normal game. The apes bowed down, and an almost demonic chant emerged from them, as voices, whispers, emerged from the purple beam of light. There was a shaking on screen, and the world slowed, as if Dragon Time was activated...though it didn't exist in this game. The screen became an olive-sepia color. A deep voice, Malefor's, spoke, dominating the speakers, sounding omnipresent, “My child, why do you cry? I mean you no harm, I seek only aide to escape this dark prison.”

“My Lord Malefor, we come to give you the one who shall release you from your prison,” Gaul says.

A ball of light, like the ones the conduits start off as in the normal game, crawls out of the hole, flashing and pulsating with the voice of Malefor as he chants in some strange language. Then, the light becomes an orb with streaks of purple lightning coming out like tentacles. Much to my alarm, the twisted conduit's 'tentacles' enter Cynder's mouth, eyes, nose, every orifice of her body, and violates her. There is a flash of light that blocks out the sight, and her screams, and a deafening, high-pitched ring blasts from the speakers, adding to the whited-out screen. It soon clears, showing Cynder, on her stomach, collapsed, unconscious, with what appears to be purple smoke emerging from her body. Out of the portal, the purple spirits that Spyro had 'cleansed' her with in the main game shoot out, tearing through her. Once it stops and the spirits vanish, she stands...and explodes. From the bloody explosion, a ball of darkness is in her place, and it begins to morph into the silhouette of her dark form, which soon solidifies, completing her corruption. “Yes, my master,” she says, before the cutscene ended.

The first mission was named “Baptism by Fire”, and was one of battles that Ignitus had mentioned in his recount of the war with Spyro early on in the normal game, the only objective really being to annihilate a certain percentage of enemies while burning the islands in the process. The mission was so damn confusing, that I honestly can not remember the details. Each mission ended with Cynder returning to Concurrent Skies, a monologue ensuing where she narrates her feelings on the war and Malefor as the scene shows her, exhausted, walking slowly across her fortress, going to the roof where she collapses and falls asleep, dreaming pieces of her encounter with Spyro in the main game where he comes to rescue Ignitus, and where he battles her in Convexity, as well as saves her life. Each following mission includes her viewpoint on the normal game's missions, the game maintaining its bloody content as she follows Spyro's trial, attempting to locate and kill him. Her bosses, however, were much different. Dante's Freezer didn't have one, but consisted of her burning the place down. Tall Plains was the big group of Atlawa that had worshiped Sparx. When the group was killed, Cain came down, and you were forced to fight and kill him. The final scene showing him kneeling to the ground, gasping for breath, cursing her and all of her offspring before she offed his head. The chase scene remained the same for the Munitions Forge, only now that it was Cynder chasing Spyro, and trying to avoid the collapsing volcano without letting Spyro escape, and the escape was timed, further adding to the frustration.

The oddest mission was by far the Concurrent Skies one. It didn't exist...her delivery of Ignitus and beginning the draining of his life force was but a cutscene. The mission here was the sum of all of the between-stage cutscenes that was played out. The beginning of the game, she was obviously as pure evil as possible, but as each mission was played, her monologue became less sinister, and more and more lamenting, as if she was growing more humane. The final mission, was by far the most frightening...and the most twisted. It starts with Cynder, her young form, awakening on what looks like one of the platforms of Convexity. There was no music, only the occasional Convexity sound effect, but even THEY were far and few between. The mission that appeared, I remember, was entitled, “Purgatory and Repentance”, and started with the lovely objective of “Kill the Purple Dragon”.

Once I regained control of Cynder, I found myself in an extremely darkened plain. Cynder made a comment like, “It's so dark...I can't see...” and a new objective appeared, reading “Light the Shrine of Malefor.” The mission continued as a series of trial-and-error events where I had to maneuver through a labyrinth of narrow platforms giving way to endless drops that resulted in the screams of a young woman as Cynder plummeted. Plus, the whole level was pitch black with next to zero lightning, you wouldn't know you were at the edge of the cliff until you were already plummeting to your demise. There was a timer that gave me 5:00 minutes, and as it ticked down, each thirty seconds added music. At 4:30, a single bass drum beat sounded, about once every 5 seconds. At 4:00, the drums grew faster and more like a heartbeat. And by the time the timer reached one minute, the drums were frantic, almost like the percussion from “Mausoleum Suite”, a song from Halo 2. Omnipresent whispers sounded every once in awhile, and occasionally, Cynder would yell, “I must hurry! He's coming!”

I soon ran to a darkened arena, where I could see a Malefor statue, surrounded by three circles of candles. Using what would be her “Fear” breath, the candles were lit, and the timer reset to 3:00 minutes. The music still continued, it didn't change, and I was forced to follow the labyrinthine, narrow paths again. The next objective to appear was triggered by a massive earthquake ingame, and Cynder saying, sounding quite depressed and terrified, even paranoid, “He's almost here.”

The next objective was entitled, “Find the Shrine of Repentance”. I noticed that the more I followed this path, the louder the music grew, and the more sinister it sounded, it began to twist and warp, subtle at first, but the more the timer ticked down, the darker the world seemed to become, and the music began to decrease in pitch as it warped. The whispers slowed and became less human and more demonic, chanting something in an odd language, and the light that was seen began to grow red tinted, as if the television screen was slowly turning red, or if one stepped out of boundaries on one of the Halo multiplayer maps.

Then, all of the music suddenly stopped once I stepped onto a large platform. In the center of the arena, there was a single statue, surrounded by three rings of candles, and appearing as if like a stone cross. When the candles were lit, the screen turned red, and the music suddenly returned, deafening and booming. A strange noise, almost like a siren wailed, deafening, and the voices grew louder, chanting a single word over and over again, sounding like “Die”.

Cynder spoke, but I couldn't hear her over the noise of the twisted music, instead, the subtitles I had turned on read, “I must get out of here! He's here!”

This started a new objective, entitled, “Escape Purgatory”. The world constantly began to shake, and the screen began to warp, almost like zooming in and out repeatedly, with the black and all light turned red-tinted. The timer then reset to 1:00 minute, and I continued onto another trail, racing along and following the narrow trail. As the timer, also zooming in and out repeatedly, ticked down, images, shock images, like those seen on Encyclopedia Dramatica's “Offended” page flashed on screen, only for a brief second. Cynder's health bar began to deplete the moment I had lit the candles, and I sprinted using the dash move, trying to escape before my health was depleted, and the timer reached zero. The flashes grew faster and faster in intensity, and finally, I could see a flash of light ahead as a vortex, looking like a swirling galaxy, appeared up ahead, lighting the surrounding platform. Unfortunately, the light also illuminated the sky, and I was horrified to see screaming faces rising out of smoke that belched from the cracked, stony earth. Above the portal, in the sky, two massive, purple orbs flashed on, glowing, and the world shook even harder now. Upon the portal activating, the timer jumped down to 10 seconds, and Cynder was suddenly struck still, she was lifted, and her back legs were kicking as she twitched, her neck stiff and looking up, her mouth open, and her eyes wide with fear and terror, and it appeared as if she was being choked by an invisible force, or the Force choke from Star Wars. Now, her health bar was almost entirely gone. I dashed faster and faster towards the portal. The terrifying images flashing faster and faster, and now, past cutscenes began to dominate the game screen. I would be running, and suddenly, would be thrust into a clip of the attack on the temple. I was running through Cynder's memories...

At 5 seconds left to spare, the glowing orbs condensed, lighting up the gigantic face of one of the purple spirits that had cleansed Cynder in the main game. The spirit was almost upon me, mouth open and wide, and then I reached the portal. There was a message on the center of screen, “Press X to Leave Purgatory”, and I did. There was a hissing sound and the screen grew white, then silence.

After about ten seconds of black silence, to the point I thought the game had crashed, it triggered the beginning cutscene of the final battle with Cynder, only Spyro looked beat up, and worse for wear, bleeding from numerous cuts down his body, and his eyes, white, and without pupils, bleeding. His scales were a deep dark purple, and his belly was a pale yellow. He looked like the living dead, and there was a brief flash where it showed him as he normally looked. It was then that I knew why he looked so disgusting...this was how Cynder saw him.

The world suddenly slowed again, entering that Dragon Time state, and the olive-sepia color returned, as Malefor spoke to her, each syllable of his omnipresent voice causing the screen to shake, “Cynder, my beloved, you KNOW what to do. Kill him! Kill this intruder! Kill your assassin!”

After this, the “Kill the Purple Dragon” objective reappeared, and I was thrown into a three part boss battle against Spyro. Although I was Dark Cynder, had a crapload of powers, all maxed out in level (She knew all of her Dawn of the Dragon abilities), my attacks were worthless! And my mana bar was completely depleted, with no magic crystals to replenish them. I would attack him with my melee powers, and his health bar barely moved, he would freeze me in place, and one attack would nearly kill me. I was lucky I had saved the state before I began the battle, and I reloaded, hoping to be able to win the battle without dying, but I couldn't.

After several powerful hits from him, I died...triggering a cutscene where Spyro had defeated Cynder, shown from his point of view. I regained control, and the objective to appear was, “Resurrect the Dark Master”. I picked up the crystal, and the vortex appeared in the sky. Upon picking up the crystal, I lost control again as Cynder took to the skies, entering the portal.

I was now in Convexity, no cutscene, only Cynder flying through the air. The objective, “Place the Crystal” appeared, and when I did, I was suddenly attacked, and my full health bar was drained a quarter of the way, and I was knocked out of the sky. The twisted Spyro's health bar reappeared, now orange, and I fought again to deplete his health. Once more, I was easily defeated. Upon the draining of my health bar, it refilled again, and I hovered in place, couldn't move, could only “look”. An image of the R2 button appeared, and as I depressed it, I unleashed my fury. However, now I couldn't attack, I couldn't move, only look. And Spyro hit me constantly with his purple beam attack. Soon, my health bar was gone, and he unleashed his own fury, triggering the purification cutscene. Once it was completed, a hellish scream, like a banshee, or some kind of bird of prey, sounded, and the screen faded to white. When color returned, time moved very slowly, showing Cynder's fall from her hovering position in extreme slow motion. Distantly, the “Dreams” music from The Eternal Night played, softly at first, but slowly growing a little louder.

Spyro's omnipresent voice then sounded, and he said, “Cynder...Cynder please...don't do this to me! Help me...”

I was now small Cynder again, in Convexity, but the world was still very slow, there was no sound except for the “Dreams” music, and I moved slowly as well. The objective to appear was, “Save Spyro”, and a timer reading 1:00 minute appeared, but each second seemed to take ten seconds. For what seemed like an hour, but couldn't have been more than fifteen minutes, I ran around Convexity, trying to find Spyro, but he was gone, nowhere to be found. Once the timer ran out, the screen grew white again, and a message appeared, saying, “Spyro has Died,” then, “You killed him. You could have saved him.”

And I found myself back at the dragon temple, outside, trapped on the balcony. The door inside was shut, the sky was frozen at sunset, and I could only run around on this balcony. On the middle of the balcony, Spyro lay, on his side, laying in a puddle of red. The “Dreams” music kept playing the whole time, and I ran up to Spyro, triggering a cutscene where Cynder, with a shocked, saddened look on her face, tried to shake Spyro awake. But he wouldn't move. He stayed on his side, his eyes were closed, and blood dripped from his open mouth. Crudely carved on his flank was the phrase, “I LOVED YOU, CYNDER”.

And a blood smear-trail led to the temple door where the message, “WHY DID YOU KILL ME?” was written in blood.

Then, the game's world shook extremely violently, the worse yet, the whole screen turned a brilliant red, and a booming male voice, layered, yelled, “I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!”

The harsh, high-pitched whine of violins, usually associated with some kind of terrifying incident or experience, became the only music, growing higher-pitched and louder, and the screen remained red as the giant purple spirit seemed to fade in out of the sky. I had no control over Cynder, and she now walked over to the fallen Spyro. Once she was beside him, she froze in place, looking up at the spirit with a look of solid acceptance and I watched as the purple spirit, now fully solidified, rushed forward, and the screen turned black with the single phrase, “THE END?” written in a red chiller format on the center. I couldn't exit out, and no option to quit the game appeared. Instead, a photograph of smiling, Spyro and Cynder plush dolls, sitting side by side, heads cocked to the side, eyes large black holes with tiny red dots in the center, and what appeared to be cartoon blood dripping from the eyes, mouths, and noses faded in.

The music was little more than a demonic rumble of some kind of instrument slurring in discord, a truly, demonic-sounding soundtrack. Finally, I hit ESC and the game exited out back to my desktop...

...I was speechless...I didn't know what I had just played, and I still have nightmares to this very day. I still have the disc with the game on it, and even though its scratched up and nearly unreadable now, I still have it in a box inside my nightstand. Sometimes I go back to it, but each time, it just gives me more and more nightmares, and I swear to stop playing, yet I still do.

I have since tried tracking down the original owner of the game, and though I can't find them, I will not stop trying until I can figure who made the game and why and what it meant.

Sir Areis Lionheart (talk) 09:41, December 10, 2013 (UTC)

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