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Rygar: The Battle of Argus

Score: 64%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Tecmo
Developer: Tecmo
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:

Looking back on the early days of the PS2, the system had plenty of good action titles. Onimusha, Devil May Cry, and Metal Gear Solid 2 were some of the standouts, but most people didn't play or had heard of Rygar: The Legendary Adventure. Set in a classic Greco-Roman setting filled with mythological beasts and gods, Rygar had successfully been revived from over a decade of absence.

Well, now we have Rygar: The Battle of Argus for the Wii and it is a near identical port of the fondly remembered PS2 title. It isn't a remake like some people thought, nor is it exactly the same. The developers did not change a single thing about Rygar except for the character design of the hero; Rygar. So in terms of visual fidelity, forgive me saying this (since it is true), but Rygar looks like a PS2 game.

The mythical world of Argus was rendered well way back in 2002, and most of the visuals still hold up fairly well. The only thing that Rygar's visuals don't do well are animations. Partly at fault is how long ago the original was made and the knowledge of the tech back then was fairly low, but what was once believable and beautiful is now dated and bland. I would have hoped that the developers would have made some improvements on the visual elements at the least, but instead the only improvement is a trendy looking protagonist that looks like he jumped out of some anime lover's fantasy.

As well as the visuals might stand the test of time, the audio most certainly does not. The voice acting and script are simply terrible. Since it is a port, it must mean the original must have been bad as well. Well, I have a copy of the original and yes, it was just as awful. It was okay in 2002 as gamers were becoming used to the medium having voices as a new standard, but in 2009, everyone expects a lot more than what is offered in Rygar. Phoned-in performances and repetitive sound effects get old very quickly in the land of Argus and it is a shame since there is some fun to be had.


Gameplay:

Rygar: The Battle of Argus is an action title, plain and simple. The basic gameplay mechanic is to beat the crap out of anything that moves. Ryagr is a gladiator that has lost his memory and quickly becomes the chosen one to wield the legendary weapon, the Diskarmor, to save Princess Harmonia who has been kidnapped by evil demons. Fighting with the yo-yo like Diskarmor is legitimately fun and combat stays engaging all the way to the end, but the pacing is all over the place and takes away from the enjoyment.

At the very beginning of Rygar: The Battle of Argus, you acquire the fabled Diskarmor and fight your way through a few rooms underneath a coliseum and then you encounter the first boss battle. So far, so good. The next few levels are full of puzzles and low level enemies until you get your first permanent upgrade to your weapon. Unfortunately, your upgrade comes with a boss fight and then another upgrade immediately afterwards, which means another boss fight.

I wouldn't bring this up if it weren't for the fact that Rygar: The Battle of Argus still uses an archaic save system without any checkpoints. So, if you make your way through the first two bosses and die on the third, you have to start all over again from wherever you last saved.

Even the most basic action titles today at least have a checkpoint system so that you can start from the most recent area, and not over a half hour's worth of progress away. It just feeds into the main problem that the developers did not add anything to update Rygar to compete with today's market.

Well, that isn't entirely true, they did add a new gameplay mode called "Gladiator Mode" which makes you fight level after level of enemies until a boss fight, and then fight some more enemies. It is basically a survival mode, but with a very specific twist. The only way to attack with the Diskarmor is to use the motions of the Wii-mote. Throughout the main game, combat is mainly on the face buttons with a few strong attacks that can be charged by shaking the Wii-mote. In "Gladiator Mode," all of the combat is based on shaking the Wii-mote. It can tell which direction you are swinging which corresponds to a different attack. It also knows how hard you are swinging each time. So, what it boils down to is how fast and hard can you swing your arms in order to clear the rooms before you die or run out of time. If you want to consider how tired my arms were afterwards a good thing for kids to get active in their games, then go ahead. I didn't think it was smart or fun, I just found it useless and tiresome.

I have read that some people are being unfairly cruel to Rygar: The Battle of Argus simply because it didn't do anything new. Well, while that is a very valid reason to complain, you also have to consider that is only 7 years old and for the time, nearly everything it did well would be used in other games later on. So what was new in 2002 is now a reference list for what most people don't want action games to do in 2009.

It has on-the-fly weapon switching. It has big, huge boss battles accompanied with an epic world to explore. It had traversal mechanics that I don't remember anyone else doing until Ratchet and Clank or God of War But for everything it did right, it still had rooms that would seal off until all of the enemies were cleared. It also had aggravating platforming elements, enemies that would attack from off-screen, and serious health management problems. But I think the good just slightly nudges out the bad in this case.


Difficulty:

Combat is the one thing that Rygar still has going for it. The actual combat system in place is solid and sometimes a lot of fun to rack up monstrous combo chains., and also easy to grasp and quick to master. It's when it is supposed to be hard that the fun level drops a few notches.

A fairly short adventure at around 5 - 7 hours, it is packed with boss fights which range from bizarre and fun to questionable and aggravating. No action game should be critiqued based solely on the boss fights, but Rygar: The Battle of Argus has managed to only peak its difficulty curve during boss fights. Most fights involve consecutive boss battles and each one are incredibly frustrating. But since most of the other enemies are relatively calm and easy by comparison, it only serves to confuse the whole experience.


Game Mechanics:

Honestly, the most difficult part of Rygar is the controls. Problems are everything from a confusing fixed camera to mapping everything to the Wii-mote and Nunchuk

The camera wouldn't be nearly as bad if the directions of the controls weren't adjusted every time the camera changes. Moving into a new area moves Rygar forward regardless of what direction he was moving in the previous area. It also seems as if there is a small delay from the time you stop moving Rygar and the time it resets the directions for the new area. Sometimes it is too small to notice, but it arises during platforming sections and the camera is usually the most frequent cause of death.

The basic controls for Rygar: The Battle of Argus tried their best to make everything work for the Wii's control scheme. Jumping is on the (Z) button and blocking is done by pressing (C). Basic attacks and heavy attacks on (A) and (B) respectively and special moves like sliding and shoulder tackling are Down and Up on the D-pad. Pulling off regular combos with (A) and (B) works well enough, but I wouldn't know how the Wii-mote attacks operate because I could never pull them off. The built-in tutorials are a little light on details, but it doesn't really matter because the basic formulas still work all the way through.

Instead of comparing Rygar: The Battle of Argus to itself 7 years ago, I think it is more important to compare it to what is available on the system of choice; the Wii. While it is most certainly better than some action titles like NinjaBread Man and Dragon Blade, it still has nothing on No More Heroes or Metroid Prime 3. So, you could do a lot worse than Rygar, but if you are someone that is looking for a trip down memory lane (way back in 2002) and enjoys Greek fantasy, then adventuring through Argus for a few hours probably won't hurt.


-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

Sony PlayStation 2 Coraline Microsoft Xbox 360 Afro Samurai

 
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