Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rygar: Legendary Awesome

Back in the 80s, Tecmo was known for one important thing: vicious arcade games. One of my favorite Tecmo arcade games is Rygar. I honestly never knew of an actual plot for the game, because the storylines for the three Rygar games I've played(Arcade, NES, and PS2) was so convoluted, trying to follow and make sense of it made my face hurt. What is known is that Rygar is a "legendary warrior" who was raised from the dead to save Argool. The Arcade game was pretty straight forward, literally. You basically walk to the right destroying any enemy that gets in your way. It's kind of like building up your army early in a Strategy game and watching them mow down the enemy with little effort. When I saw the NES version in my local video store, I was kinda excited. Most NES games were pretty much the same formula as the Arcade version of Rygar, so I figured it lent itself well to the home market at that time. Then I popped it into my NES and realized what Tecmo did, and how infinitely awesome it was.

The NES version of Rygar was unlike any other home conversion at that point as it took the familiar gameplay from the Arcade version and tied it in a knot, then sprinkled a little Metroid on top. This reboot of Rygar required players to find items that allowed them to access new areas of the game, which resulted in a lot of backtracking. This was a hallmark of Metroid that made gamers the world over love it, and here it was in Rygar. The game world was expansive, character sprites were big and colorful, and the gameplay felt better than the arcade. The only problem with Rygar on the NES was a big one. There was no way to save your progress, and by no means was this a short game. This meant anybody planning on beating this game had to leave their NES turned on and the game paused for very long periods of time. This honestly kept a good game from being a definitive must have for the NES.

After Rygar on the NES we get nothing for close to 15 years. Then Tecmo released a long awaited retelling of the Rygar story. This time it was on the PS2. Rygar - The Legendary Adventure took the classic side scrolling gameplay and gave it a 3D boost. The gorgeous visuals were accompanied by a brilliant classical soundtrack, and the game had pretty good control. The major gripe about the NES version was corrected as there was a save feature included here. A new problem was created though, The pacing of this game felt way too slow. After playing something like Devil May Cry, it was hard to adjust to such a slow character, but that gripe was minor in reality, because again, this new Rygar was almost as good as the older versions. Sadly, the streak of good Rygar games was halted when Tecmo decided to shoehorn motion control to the PS2 Rygar game, the result was the Wii version of the game being a complete turd, condemned to languish in bargain bins.

Hopefully that Wii version doesn't keep Tecmo from bringing that franchise back again. I mean Ninja Gaiden is excellent, and I'm more than sure Tecmo's staff can cook up a new classic with the Legendary Warrior.

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