Rygar: The Legendary Adventure Review
Without a doubt, 2002 will be remembered as the year that paid homage to the golden-age. The golden-age is referred by many as the pinnacle era of videogaming, which highlights the span ranging from the birth of gaming to the 16-bit generation. This year, we saw updates of classics such as Contra, Shinobi, Mortal Kombat (I try to forget MK4 ever happened), Zelda: A Link to the Past, Defender, Metroid, Sonic (Sonic Mega Collection) and Rygar. There is no question that this year's two Metroid titles, Fusion and Prime are the most important of the aforementioned titles, but there's another title that should not be overlooked, and that is Rygar. Rygar: The Legendary Adventure is a remake of the original NES title that was released back in the late 80s. Having anticipated the game's release for quite sometime, I can say in full confidence that Tecmo has delivered the goods and Rygar certainly doesn't disappoint the least bit.
Visually, Rygar is one of the most stunning looking games on the market. It has the lighting effects of ICO and the visual detail of Metal Gear Solid 2. The lighting is absolutely stunning, and the first 15 minutes of the game will be proof of this. The sun beams through and illuminates the environment with a pleasing and warm effect that is sure to be appreciated by everyone. The art direction is absolutely astonishing. Rygar is one of the most well designed titles of the year, right up there with Sony's The Mark of Kri -- kudos to the artist's of Rygar! In terms of overall polish, Rygar is an incredibly powerful game with a lot of technical merits at hand. For starters, the game's environments can be destroyed to rubble. Much of what you see on the screen can be destroyed and reduced to nothingness, which is an incredible feature that really adds a lot to Rygar's visual presentation. You can destroy everything from gigantic support beams, to obstacles that are in the way, and even to enormous statues. Watching such grand pieces of art get reduced to pebbles is a really wonderful effect, though the only draw-back is that the results of destruction don't stay around, it disperses. Rygar as a whole looks fantastic, though the game's textures look incredible in some places, they can also look a bit washed out in others, which is most likely due to the structures with washed out textures are the ones that can be destroyed. Rygar himself looks excellent and well defined, he's got Tecmo's signature character detail all over him. Lastly, what prevented Rygar from getting a higher graphics score was some slight shimmering issues, and a hint of aliasing problems here and there, but that's about it, really.
When I first laid my hands on Rygar for the PS2, I quickly noticed how the game borrows elements from Capcom's Devil May Cry. Upon further gameplay, I realized while Rygar may be a very action oriented game, it does other things that Devil May Cry just didn't do. In terms of overall fun factor, Rygar is a top-notch action title that will please every fan of the action genre. The amount of mayhem that occurs in the game is sweat-breaking, and that especially goes for the incredible boss battles. The bosses are not only enormous in size (some of the largest, if not THE largest in a videogame to date), but they're quite the challenge -- provided you are playing this game on the normal difficulty setting. In regards to difficulty, like Devil May Cry and even Onimusha 1 and 2, after losing three times in a row, the game will prompt you with a message asking if you wish to play on the easy difficulty setting. In terms of action, Rygar moves a lot like Devil May Cry, though the combat is obviously different than that of DMC's. So instead of killing three, four, or five monsters with a sword and handguns, you kill them with your diskarmor.
In Rygar, there is a total of 4 different diskarmors to pick up -- three of which have to be fought for. All of the diskarmors differentiate from one another. They possess different attacks and different characteristics. For instance, by holding the attack button, your default diskarmor can grapple onto enemies and allow Rygar to spin them 'round and 'round, until finally throwing them against a wall to inflict final damage. The second diskarmor will allow Rygar to throw the disk, have it stay stretched out and permit Rygar to swing from left to right a few times, eliminating any enemies that may be in the way. The diskarmor acts almost like one large yo-yo, sort to speak. It recoils after one tap, though you pull off combos with it, or even put it to sleep and 'rock the cradle' (as explained previously). The diskarmor can, of course, also be used as a shield to protect yourself from any projectiles being hurled at you, or whatnot. Like Capcom's Onimusha games, you'll be able to upgrade your weapons substantially by collecting various item pickups that are dropped by enemies you defeat or environments you destroy. With every diskarmor acquired, Rygar will be able to summon monsters to aid him in a battle. Each summon will decrease Rygar's summon bar, which he will have to regain by continuously fighting enemies and picking up replenishments.
Story wise, Rygar isn't too deep in that aspect, but it gets the job done for an action title. Here's a little background on the story:
"Taking place on an Island in the Mediterranean Sea called Argus, Rygar: The Legendary Adventure, tells the tale of a noble warrior determined to save the Princess Harmonia and bring the Island of Argus back to a state of peace. For his contribution and bravery during The Great Sea Battle, which ultimately brought the Island of Argus to victory, Princess Harmonia was honoring Rygar in a magnificent ceremony. During the celebration, ravenous monsters called "Titans" emerged from the land, destroying not only Rygar's homeland, but abducting his beloved Princess Harmonia. In the midst of this chaos deep cracks were formed in the island's surface, creating a dark and mysterious underworld. Before realizing what was happening, Rygar was swallowed by this underworld. While there, a Goddess approached and informed him that in order to destroy the Titans and save the Princess, he must depend on his almighty Diskarmor, which becomes the essential tool in his quest for victory. Armed with the Diskarmor, Rygar sets out on what will become a Legendary Adventure."
Rygar is a solid playing title with some wonderful action elements. The game plays superbly well, and the diskarmor features add more to the overall experience. Though the only real downfall of the game is its length, which is roughly about 6-8 hours in total. If you can look past that, Rygar is a tremendously good PS2 title that you should definitely play.
Regarding the sound, Rygar is somewhat of a mixed bag, though its good parts greatly outweigh the bad. First, the good: Rygar's soundtrack. Composed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Rygar features perhaps the best-orchestrated soundtrack of any game released this year, and arguably one of the best soundtracks altogether. The tunes tie in so well with the game and the setting, that the only way to describe the soundtrack is as being 'perfect'. My biggest complaint with Rygar's audio is the voice acting. To me, the voice acting almost sounded like it was purposely acted out stiff and lacking any real emotion. But as much as I want to believe that, I can't help but cringe at how melodramatic and poorly expressed everything is. The delivery and responses in dialogue is just fine, but the acting itself is downright awful...think Star Wars: Episode 1 and Episode 2. That said, I still felt the need to credit the game's sound with a respectable score of 8.5, as I felt that the soundtrack is done well done and wonderfully orchestrated, it deserved to take up most of the sound score.
Controlling Rygar is pretty straightforward task, though it may require a little time to get a full hang of. The throwing the diskarmor can be done with three different buttons, Triangle, Square and Circle. Holding the Square button will make Rygar perform a special move with whichever diskarmor he has equipped, this was explained earlier on in gameplay. The Triangle attack will make Rygar perform one powerful hit. While the Circle attack is a regular attack which acts just like Square, except it won't allow Rygar to perform the special characteristic of a diskarmor. By triple tapping either Square or Circle, you'll be able to perform a multiple hit combo on an enemy. Everything about the controls are pretty easy to get adjusted to, but my only complaint is that the game is missing a lock-on feature. Now take note, I don't feel as if the feature is much needed, though it would've certainly made things less frustrating in some cases and much smoother, overall. Aside from the lack of a lock on targeting feature, Rygar's controls are pretty solid, altogether.
All in all, when it comes down to the end, Rygar is one of the best action/adventure titles of the year. The game's incredible atmosphere, coupled with its gorgeous visuals and wonderful gameplay truly makes Rygar an excellent action experience that all fans of the action genre must have. PS2 owners look for a great Devil May Cry-esque fix will find themselves heavily rewarded with Tecmo's Rygar: The Legendary Adventure. As a side note, those who are into deep, engrossing and meticulously performed soundtracks will absolutely fall in love with Rygar's soundtrack. Make sure you give Rygar: The Legendary Adventure a look, it's one of the better game titles of the year, and arguably the sleeper hit of the year.
12/4/2002 Arnold Katayev