Rygar’s journey has been a long, if not consistently eventful, voyage. His expedition began with the eponymous 1986 arcade game, which was made into a compelling NES adventure the following year. In 2002, the Roman warrior made the jump into the third dimension, resulting in the admirable Rygar: The Legendary Adventure. Seven years later, that PS2 game has been remade with a few elective enhancements into Rygar: The Battle of Argus, for the Nintendo Wii.
In that nearly decade long stretch, we’ve seen Rygar influence a number of action titles, from the Devil May Cry series, God of War and even Ninja Gaiden’s 3D remake. Each of those burgeoning titles had shrewdly built its game upon Rygar’s core mechanic, offering a bit of refinement in the process. Which makes playing The Battle of Argus, feel distinctly retro.
“Go! And die with honor!”
As the game opens, our protagonist is savoring the riches of a devastating naval victory. Rygar is given a wreath of valor from the King’s daughter. The celebration is interrupted by a group of beasts who execute the guards and knock our hero into a deep crevice. As he Roman conqueror regains consciousness after the fall, he hears a mysterious voice describing the power of his new weapon – the diskarmor.
Battle of Argus divided into two distinct game modes – conquest, which offers players a linear adventure, and gladiator mode, which incorporates wiimote gesturing into 30 enemy-filled levels. Conquest’s controls utilize the analog stick on the nunchuck to move Rygar, while the ‘A’ and ‘B’ button on the remote trigger a normal strike and a more powerful attack, respectively. The ‘C’ button raises the hero’s shield, blocking most attacks from lower-level enemies, however it’s typically ineffective in boss encounters. Additionally, pressing the control pad will allow Rygar to slide, stomp, tackle, and later, to use a grappling hook. Gladiator mode requires the player to maintain the wiimote in an upward position, while swinging it to initiate special moves. The greater the intensity of the motion, the more devastating the attack will be, resulting in a decent workout after 30-40 minutes of play.
Strangely, Rygar offers maps only while indoors. You are on your own, outside.
Some of Rygar’s design decisions are downright perplexing. While normal enemies can slowly whittle down the careless players health bar, the foes typically offer a diminutive amount of challenge. Conversely, boss encounters were aggravatingly difficult, corrupting the sense of game continuity. Boss fights were typically light on strategy and heavy on button spamming; a typical tactic was to find a solid defensive position and attack wildly. Rygar clearly shows it’s age in these encounters.
Whereas, 2004’s Ninja Gaiden allow player to rapidly dart around foes, and God of War allowed the player to feel the impact of Kratos’ devastating attacks, no such feeling permeates The Battle of Argus. Even when the diskarmor is powered up, attacks feel somewhat anemic and Rygar’s speed can be sluggish. One welcome addition is the increased amount of enemies; the PS2 version suffered from recycling of adversaries.
“Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”
Graphically, the game is game is competent, drawing on the strength of Roman architecture for its shrines, temples and coliseums. While many of the PS2 game’s models have been recycled, climbing the staircase to the Elysian temple is still stirring. The one nagging concern we have about the title is the noticeable lack of widescreen support. The game’s orchestral soundtrack has lost none of its power; it stands as one of the best musical accompaniments in any Wii game.
With a deficiency of 3D action-adventure titles on the Wii, and a reduced $39.99 price tag, gamers may be tempted by Rygar: The Battle for Argus. Currently, the title is the closest approximation of the thrills found in now-gen tiles like Devil May Cry 4 and God of War. Players should realize that while this Argus is enjoyable, it is also distinctly aged- missing is the graphical luxury and feeling of super-human supremacy found in other action titles.