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Retro Roman: Rygar- The Battle of Argus

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.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

41 comments

  1. First.

    Is this game six or seven years old?

  2. Can you find the PS2 version around anymore? One site suggested playing that one.

  3. Not everyone still has a PS2. Or BC PS3.

  4. Enough of the Gladiator references, Desert!

  5. 52 on Megacritic. You guys are WAY too nice on this crap.

  6. released in November 2002. So six years and three months. I guess they went by calender years.

  7. Way too much brown in the game.

  8. Are the captions from the movie or something? What are you talking about?

  9. Yep, most sites are calling this one a big ol’ turd.

  10. decent enough review. I’ll get this one for $19.99 eventually.

  11. I just passed this by today. I was $32.99 on base. Maybe I should have got it.

  12. I don’t even know if my Wii is working. Its been gathering a lot of dust these days.

  13. I wonder if this was too big on fit on the virtual console.

  14. Sounds alright. Not worth $40 tho.

  15. I never played the original PS2 one. Are they that similar?

  16. Already have the PS2 version. I think it’s still sealed even.

    I have one hell of a backlog.

  17. Logo looks awful. Jeez, who designed that my four year old nephew?

  18. I heard they gave Rygar spikey hair and tattoos. Lame, now he’s your typical Abercrombie tool.

  19. It does look awful.

  20. Yes, his hair changed from a light brown mullet to white and spikey. Rygar had tattoos previously- they are present on the PS2 cover.

  21. But it’s one of my favorite movies 😉

  22. I’m sure it is. Just the music would fill any available memory.

  23. Wow, Desert you’re actually responding to posts? Amazing, I thought you were too busy for us ‘little’ folk.

  24. They should have released it at $29.99 or better still $19.99

  25. I thought this had a hard rock soundtrack.

  26. Wii needs a solid action game, that i agree.

  27. I’m going to rent this, and maybe buy if it’s decent enuf.

  28. I never heard of Rygar before. I didn’t know it was a NES game st one time. Did you guys ever play it? Is it on VC?

  29. I haven’t played a good once since Twilight Princess. What was that two years ago?

  30. Nope symphonic, same as PS2 version.

  31. Mine too. Don’t feel bad!

  32. Is there any blood?

    Graphics look pretty good for a Wii. Yes, there does seem to be a lot of brown and gray.

  33. I’m sure Desert’s played it, if he wrote about it. I think I played an emulated version before. One of the better NES, if I remember correctly

  34. I wish this on PSP!

  35. No blood, rated teen.

  36. So far, one of the better reviews for the game. Between this and Tenchu, I’m leaning toward Tenchu.

  37. Got getting great reviews at all. To the bargain bin, warrior!

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  39. It is great to learn something new everyday. Thanks for sharing.