Review: Rygar: The Battle of Argus

This game is terrible. There is no way to be diplomatic about that. Rygar: The Battle of Argus has very few redeeming qualities. It is fundamentally a lazy effort, a brazen attempt to take advantage of the wide-eyed enthusiasm and shocking naiveté that new Wii owners tend to display. All Tecmo has done with The Battle of Argus is directly port the 2002 PS2 title Rygar: The Legendary Adventure, which was a passable effort by the standards of the day and now retails for about $2.99 at your friendly local GameStop.

The Wii version has Remote-specific controls (with waggle!) and gives the protagonist a fantastically stupid new design. Do not expect new bosses or levels; the new feature, Gladiator Mode, is just a typical Survival Mode. Occasionally the Wii version moves item locations and enemy spawns around a little, but otherwise this is pretty much exactly a 2002 PS2 action game.

By the standards of 2009, that results in a game that’s largely very dull and frustrating. A lot of features that players have come to take for granted in modern 3D action titles are simply missing, and for no clear reason. No auto-targeting, no ability to manipulate camera angles, not even the courtesy of a full health restore when you save your game. The game ends with a rush of five back-to-back boss fights that somehow manages to feel tiresome.

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This is not to say the game is especially difficult. Most players are going to complete it in less than ten hours. The game consists of seven worlds, where you’ll go through the usual routine of platforming, puzzle-solving, and monster-bashing to get to the boss (or series of Bosses) that guard the level’s end. The graphics are unfortunately very dated, so only a few of the game’s areas (particularly Arcadia) are still interesting to look at. The larger bosses are still fairly impressive, but more mundane enemies are inexcusable.

The gimmick for Rygar’s combat (and platforming) is the Diskarmor, which is a deadly metal cosmic yo-yo. The game gives you a tremendous variety of combos to do with it, none of which is much better than mashing A repeatedly. You can eventually switch between three different Diskarmors that affect the hero’s stance and combo chains, and there are good times to use all three. The best that can be said for combat otherwise is that using your guard button occasionally matters.

Platforming involves using the Diskarmor to swing across gaps and climb impossible heights. Some of the game’s platforming segments are quite pleasant, or would be if jumping wasn’t mapped to the Nunchuk’s Z button. Performing repeated jumps with a trigger-style button in a 3D game just feels very off-putting, and no one should ever program a game that way ever again.

Rygar’s plot and localization are both so incredibly, amazingly bad that it almost turns into a selling point. If you’re the sort of person who’s memorized the original exchange between Dracula and Richter in Symphony of the Night, you’ll relish the chance to hear flat, wooden idiocy like “Aristotle is waiting for you up ahead. He was once a powerful warrior of Hades. Diskarmors once ruined his life.”

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Closing Comments:

This is a game that stands shoulder-to-shoulder in the Wii library with miseries like Castlevania Judgment, Escape from Bug Island, and SPRay. It is not just bad, it is bad in an incredibly Wii-specific, low-effort sort of way you just don’t see on other consoles. If you’re a lover of kitsch, bathos, and hilarious tragedy in your games, then Rygar: The Battle of Argus is for you. It’s certainly not for anyone else, for example people who like to have fun.
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Version Reviewed: Wii