This Half-Life mod replaces Gordon Freeman with Spyro the Dragon

Spyro the dragon in Half-Life.
(Image credit: Valve)

Half-Life: Year of the Dragon is an ambitious mod for the original Half-Life with only one goal: Make the whole game work around Spyro the Dragon (thanks, GamesRadar+). I mean, why not. Created by modder Magic Nipples(!), this project presents Half-Life's environments from a third-person perspective, picks and chooses levels from the original Half-Life, and remixes them to work with the irritating dragon's moveset.

The mod is not yet released though there are some work-in-progress demos and the below trailer: "Essentially you’d have a hub world similar to that of a typical Spyro game," writes Magic Nipples. "Then you’d have a selection of 10 or so chapters from Half-Life and expansions. I still have to finalize the list, but expect something like that."

Magic Nipples' previous mods involve a lot of work with Half-Life, including a mod that restores a great deal of cut content from the game, and these experiences led them towards building this with the Xash3D engine rather than the Steam version of Half-Life. As for the choice of hero... "I wanted to do this with Mario, but knowing how Nintendo would instantly shoot it down I chose the next best thing," they told GR+.

Sounds like a challenge. First modder to replace the TF2 cast with residents of the Mushroom Kingdom wins a massive lawsuit.

The most interesting aspect of this mod by far is how much the creator has ended up changing the original game to fit around Spyro: what began as a fairly simple idea is now a more complex and involved project. "It’s not that I hate the Half-Life campaign, but I think some chapters just aren’t interesting to play as Spyro, even with changes to fit his mechanics," Magic Nipples says. "Also that would be too taxing for me to do with the visual bump I’ve been giving things so far. That’s why I’d rather hand-pick some chapters all tied with a hub world of sorts instead."

(Image credit: Valve)

The mod has previously been shown in a less visually impressive form, before Magic Nipples worked some magic to upgrade the look and make the Spyro model better fit Black Mesa. "My main reasons for doing so are mostly being tired of the original Half-Life look from years of looking at it, and this current look, while requiring more effort to look good, gives me a better feeling of accomplishment for doing so. It no longer just feels like I ported a Spyro model into Half-Life, and called it a day."

I mean... that would have been fine too. You can follow the progress of Year of the Dragon and test out various builds over at ModDB.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."