System: Sony Playstation 2
Release: November, 2002
Rygar was an enjoyable, if formulaic action platform game for the NES, and actually also appeared in an enjoyable game on the Atari Lynx as well. With the recent wave of remakes of games from 10-15 years ago, Tecmo decided to resurrect the game and give it a facelift for the next generation.
The story in Rygar is as simple as the game on which it was based, with a straight forward save the princess adventure. However, the simplicity ends with the storyline. This updated Rygar is a true 21st gaming experience, complete with deep, enjoyable gameplay, cool graphics and an unforgettable score that helps immerse gamers in the game’s universe.
While it would be unfair to call Rygar a strict Devil May Cry clone, it borrows heavily from Capcom’s action/adventure. It is a 3D, third person game with a fixed camera, providing a more cinematic experience than with a camera that moves with the character. There are occasional times when the view isn’t ideal, but overall the system works well.
The gameplay in Rygar is driven by the Diskarmor, which is a red circular weapons that resembles a giant yo-yo. Rygar uses the Diskarmor to attack enemies, destroy blocked passages and as a grappling hook, among other uses. It is used as both an offensive weapon and defensive, as a shield. The Diskarmor can also be powered up by collecting various stones, which give the Diskarmor more and more power as the game progresses.
Rygar starts out with only one Diskarmor, but earns two more in later levels. Each of the Diskarmors has a different feel and purpose, and adds a nice variety to the game, as well as the strategy of which Diskarmor to use in each late level situation. Some of the more advanced techniques of the game are pretty unique uses of the Diskarmor, including a cool move where Rygar can spin enemies above his head, or summon Diskarmor-specific demons as special attacks.
Besides the strict action elements, there are some portions of the game that require Rygar to explore the environments, earning new skills and solving some puzzles. There are hidden passages that must be uncovered by destroying some obstacles, While the levels themselves are fairly linear, there are often sections that cannot be accessed without skills earned later in the game, so some backtracking is needed.
In addition to actually playing through the levels, there are a surprisingly amount of boss battles in Rygar, which bring the game back to its roots like Contra did as well. The bosses are generally entertaining, but have an obvious pattern for defeat.
Set in ancient times, the presentation and atmosphere in Rygar sets it apart from other action adventure games. The CG intro and cutscene movies are of extremely high quality, as Tecmo rivals perhaps only Namco or Square as the CG masters in gaming.
The in game graphics impress as well, as everything has a complete, polished look often lacking in Playstation2 games. The character models of Rygar and the enemies are detailed and made up of a decent amount of polygons, but animate fluidly.
Overall the graphics presentation in Rygar is on the high side of the current generation of PS2 games.
Incredibly, the soundtrack is a original score performed by a full symphony, and the majesty and grandeur of the melodies really enhance the Roman setting in Rygar. Perfectly suited for each scenario, the music builds when the action in game builds, and comes back down when the action subsides for the more exploratory areas of the game.
The rest of the audio in the game does its job as well. The sound effects are effective and the speech in the CG movies is pretty well done for a video game.
Unlike Contra or Shinobi, which cater to the hardcore fan using this generation’s graphics, Rygar is a vastly different gaming experience. Tecmo removed the variety of weaponry from the 8bit title, added exploration and a killer score, and unleashed a next generation title that stands on its own, without the old school license.
Rygar sets out to be an engaging Playstation2 while harkening back to its 8bit roots. Remarkably, Tecmo succeeds on both accounts, including enough of the old game to appeal to old school gamers but enough so that new gamers will not be scared off. If anything, the game is skewed more towards those with no previous Rygar experience, which is probably going to work in the games favor, as far as sales go.
Fun Factor: 7