Editor’s Note: As some of you know, I’m on staff as a game reviewer for the electronic entertainment site, Avault.com. I intend to publish all of my reviews on these pages to insure I have a full record of everything I’ve written. If you haven’t read this before, enjoy!!!
Despite it’s immense popularity, the constant knock against the Nintendo Wii has been its anemic software support for hardcore gamers. Store shelves are stocked with a variety of party games aimed squarely at the casual consumers who pushed the Wii to its lofty perch but, to date, the system has been deficient of the type of in-depth action adventure titles that supported the last-generation’s big mainstream success, the Sony PS2. Tecmo aims to fill that gap with a port of their PS2 hit, Rygar: The Battle of Argus.
In Rygar, players take control of the titular hero, who is set loose in a fantasy landscape that borrows heavily from Greek and Roman mythology. In time-honored tradition, Rygar is in pursuit of an imperiled princess and will travel throughout a myriad of Mediterranean locales to track her down. Along the way, he encounters a rogue’s gallery of villains from ancient mythology including a rampaging Minotaur, the multiple headed devil dog Cerberus and the God of the Underworld, Hades.
To aid him in his fight, Rygar is entrusted with the Diskarmor, a large bladed shield that acts as his main attack weapon. The Diskarmor serves multiple purposes. As you progress through the game, new offensive combos can be learned that allow Rygar to unleash devastating attacks. In addition, the Diskarmor can be used to summon ‘familiars’ that act as magic spells. The Diskarmor is also upgraded throughout the game, allowing Rygar to use it to soar on zip lines, repel down cliffs and grapple across crevices.
Rygar: The Battle of Argus was originally released for the PS2 in 2002. In the 7 years that has elapsed since its release, the 3rd person action-adventure genre has evolved greatly, with titles like God of War refining the genre through meticulously crafted environmental puzzles, satisfying combat situations and a compelling narrative. Having had the luxury of playing through those titles, Rygar’s re-release comes across as heavily dated. The storyline is laughable, with overwrought voiceovers giving the player just enough information to get from point A to B without telling a cohesive story. In God of War, the battle against mythological heavyweights like Ares and Medusa felt epic. Here, the inclusion of characters and creatures like Hades and Cerberus feel like bullet points and don’t often make sense to the story.
The combat lacks that visceral punch that action gamers look for. While Rygar learns a number of combo attacks, players will find it’s just as easy to mash the A button to take down most enemies, including the various boss battles that pop up. From a visual perspective, the character models haven’t aged well, with blocky designs underscoring the title’s PS2 roots. The environments have held up though, with Rygar adventuring through some nicely rendered landscapes centered around the various elements including fire and air. I was also impressed that Tecmo showed restraint when mapping the controls to the Wii. While Rygar does employ motion sensitive movements, it’s mostly relegated to the optional Gladiator mode, a stand-alone battle arena built specifically for the Wii release.
I’ve often argued that the Wii needs all kinds of games for all kinds of players in order to truly cultivate its success. Games like Rygar are sorely needed in a sea of casual-centered titles and party games. That said, we need more games like this that are built from the ground up and not just quick cash-in ports. Unfortunately, Rygar falls into the latter category. Rygar: The Battle of Argus is the product of a bygone era and deserves to remain ancient history.