It seems more and more these days that classic games are being remade and brought into the 128-bit era. Sure we all love to see our favorite heroes jumbo sized and full of polygons but the problem is that developers sometimes lose that special touch the game had in the 2D realm. Focusing more on graphics and less on what made the game so damn good in the first place is their first mistake. Luckily the boys at Tecmo are all about games, as their slogan says “100% Games” they hold true to it on every occasion. Finally we have a true follow up to one of the best 2D scrollers ever…Rygar. Being born on the NES Rygar was innovative for it’s time and is now forced to compete among some of the best action games on the market. Does it succeed or just fall short of the mark? Well let us find out shall we?
I must sound like a broken record sometimes but the PS2 sure ain’t what it used to be. Continuously showing it’s age day after day is truly sad for a two year old console. Not being able to compete with the likes of Nintendo and MS the system usually gets the short end of the stick when it comes to multi-console titles, thankfully Rygar is not in this category. In fact if this game looked any better I would swear it was running on the XBox. Smooth frame rates, gorgeous landscapes, and bright colors make this game stand out and take notice. Some of the levels such as Arcadia are truly breathtaking, being able to see forever in a sky filled with moving platforms is something every gamer should experience in their life. Mix this with great character and boss models and some beautiful textures and you have one of the best looking PS2 games on the market. Truly amazing what a good developer can do when he/she takes the time.
The audio in Rygar is a mixed bag, on one hand you have one of the most dynamic scores ever known to man. Great melodies that transcend you through 7 levels of ancient Rome. Soft soothing tunes that have you humming along within the first few minutes. On the other hand you have some truly pitiful voice acting. Rygar sounds like a hero reject and some of the enemies sound as if they are reading from a cue card. Sadly enough there is no option for Japanese dialogue as I am sure it reigns supreme. The sound effects are excellent, slashing your diskarmor through an enemy never sounded so good, it’s a shame we can’t have Dolby Digital though because I can only imagine what this game would sound like on a true setup!
If you take the pages from Devil May Cry and add a swinging shield you can come to expect what Rygar plays like. Almost mimicking DMC to the point of flattery this game plays almost like it’s console brother. Dynamic camera angles that give you a movie style shot around every corner. You are also graded on your combos which can become insane as the game progresses. I have seen combos in the upper hundreds on some levels. This is of course with some diskarmor upgrades. Rygar consists of three types of diskarmor, Hades, Sea, and Heaven. You can upgrade these with stones you find along your journey.
Rygar also has an abundance of moves that he can learn throughout the game. You can learn to latch onto orbs to swing yourself across ledges and gaps to pushing blocks to open up new paths. The coolest part is some of the abilities are not earned until later in the game making you go back to pick up some of the items you may have missed in time upgrading the replay value. The controls are fairly simple, you jump with the X button and each of the other face buttons is a different style of attack. Mixing these up will create combos and Rygar can also learn different attacks by picking up power-ups throughout the game. Each diskarmor also has a summon which is great against boss battles. Speaking of boss battles this game is chock full of them and they are truly epic. In fact I believe the game has more bosses than normal enemies, a first for action game of this type!
If you played the original then you know that this game takes place in a pseudo Ancient Rome. You are a gladiator named Rygar who fights for the kingdom of Harmonia. One day the Titans invade and kidnap Princess Harmonia, you are approached by the God Of Sea, Argus to get her back and restore peace to Harmonia. Sure it’s cookie cutter but what do you want? I do mention that there are some good twists towards the end of the game and it truly keeps you glued to the set till the very end.
With all of this said Rygar is a fine addition to your PS2 library, the only complaints I have is the shortness of the title and the sometimes awkward camera angles. If you still have a soft spot in your heart for the legendary warrior then by all means give this game a go. If you are a fan of action titles such as DMC you should definitely give this game a whirl. A truly great upgrade to a fine NES classic. Let’s hope Ninja Gaiden turns out this well. Highly Recommended!