Spyro's always been a popular fellow, but also very much an acquired taste. Not unlike Harry Potter, he began life as a cute and inoffensive character designed to give kids a bit of simple and accessible action - with just the right amount of peril to make his undemanding achievements feel well-earned. And then the adults got involved.
Spyro was found to appeal to a casual, mature demographic who found his explorative jewel hunting to be pleasantly meditative - a great alternative to watching trashy made-for-TV movies in the afternoon.
But as he grew up, the developers seemed to cotton on to this older market and began unconsciously and steadily reinventing the character to meet the typical requirements of a more grown-up gamer. But as we see in Dawn of the Dragon, trying to make a hardened hero out of a cutesy dragon whose original purpose was to headbutt rocks and gather up gems doesn't work as well as it might.