IGN Review of Rygar: The Battle of Argus
The Wii being only slightly more powerful than last-generation systems, it has seen its share of old games being dusted off and trotted out for reappearance at retail (see: Resident Evil 4 and Okami). Rygar may be the oldest, though -- it originally arrived on the PlayStation 2 way back in 2002. It was well received, garnering an average industry review score of 8.5 as well as an 8.4 from IGN at the time of its release. Tecmo announced it would be reviving the game back in May of 2007 and showed it in video form at the Tokyo Game Show that year. Then…nothing for 12 months. Many assumed the project had been cancelled, but fear not superfans -- Rygar has arrived! Again. Why would you want to play a six-year old PS2 game on your Wii? That's a very good question. And after playing through The Battle of Argus, I don't really have an answer for you. What may have been impressive in 2002 feels pretty dated today. This is an unnecessary port that doesn't add enough new content to warrant strapping your disk armor back on.
Set in a mythological Roman empire, Rygar stars a warrior of the same name in the business of gaming's oldest profession: saving a princess. But, come on -- this guy is obviously Japanese. Only Japanese dudes have hair like that. The dialogue is truly terrible, and is delivered in stilted cut scenes with no effort put into lip synching. Character models are also pretty fugly, especially our hero. In many ways, Rygar definitely shows its age. It doesn't even support widescreen, for Pete's sake, instead stretching its 4:3 image to fit the 16:9 display -- pretty unforgivable today. However, many of the game's environments still look good, featuring picturesque sunsets and shiny reflections on marble.
Rygar's signature disk armor weapon is rather unique. It's kind of a saw blade attached to a chain like a mace. There are three types, each with its own speed and summon monster, and it's fun to power up your armors with mystic stones that grant special abilities. The destructible environments are great, and while attacking enemies you'll be knocking down pillars and smashing priceless treasures all over the place. Combat feels sluggish, though. By the time you start a combo chain, the enemy is already behind you -- it doesn't feel empowering to the player. Plus, there are rooms where bad guys keep re-spawning until you hack through some ambiguous amount, and they will have returned when you reenter the room. This cheap gameplay mechanic robs the player of a sense of accomplishment. Boss fights are also sometimes bogus, like the whale-thing that chases you along a narrow path. You have to run away from it, otherwise it will eat you. So you're doing what the game tells you to, and all of a sudden the ledge falls out from under with no warning and you fall to your death. There is hardcore and then there is dated: Rygar falls more into the latter category.
After the original's release, many people complained that the game threw a lot of the same enemies at the player over and over again. A few new baddies have been added for The Battle of Argus and dropped in here and there to reduce redundancy. I found the variety of enemies acceptable, but combat never really gets exciting. This isn't like God of War, where we are made to feel like an incredible badass. Rygar is slow, and his enemies have predictable attack patterns.
It's not all about action, though. There is a good deal of exploration, which I appreciate. Much like The Legend of Zelda games, you'll spot areas you can't reach quite yet but will return later after you've found the right item or flipped the right switch. Rygar eventually gains a hookshot tool that is quite fun to use. Exploration becomes a bit of a problem in open areas, unfortunately. Indoors you have a handy onscreen map indicating doorways and save points. But outside, in larger environments where you would think a map would really be useful, the guide is missing. Also, the path you need to take often doesn't make any sense. You may have to retrace your footsteps back to a previous area, but there isn't any indication letting you know this information.
The controls have been mucked up a bit in the transition from the PS2. Jumping has been relegated to the Z button on your nunchuk, which feels awkward and makes tricky platforming sections more difficult than they should be. Rygar does not allow us to alter his control scheme. In the regular game waggle controls have mercifully been kept to a minimum. You can swing your remote for a finishing blow, which works fine. New for the game on Wii is an additional Gladiator Mode, though, which is kind of a survival, enemy rush game where players battle through waves of bad guys over 30 levels. Here, a much greater emphasis has been placed on motion controls. While they work well enough, I get bored with flailing my arms around pretty quickly.
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