Rygar (NES)

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Written by  :  Adzuken (861)
Written on  :  Dec 19, 2013
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars

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Wield the ancient world’s most terrifying weapon: the Yo-Yo!

The Good

Rygar’s a bit hard to classify, but its nearest neighbours would be Castlevania 2 and Adventure of Link. It’s a sidescroller that features RPG like levelling and an exploration-heavy, interconnected world with new areas opening up as items are found. It also came out in the same timeframe as the previously mentioned games, which seems to demonstrate the sort of hive mind that Famicom developers were connected to at the time. While I may be pretty down on Simon’s Quest and Adventure of Link, Rygar is mostly all right by me.

The premise is pretty standard NES. You play as some dude in football gear named Rygar who is trying to save the holy land of Argool from a dark king named Ligar. To do this, he wields something that looks like a cross between a buckler and a spiked yo-yo. The game takes you through the standard fantasy forests and canyons in both side scrolling and top down perspectives. Side-scrolling is pretty slick, though at times clunky. Top down is just always clunky, giving you no ability to attack diagonally. On the whole, it’s not terrible.

Maybe it’s hard to hate because Rygar is a pretty forgiving game. There’s no limit on continues and dying sends you right back to the start of the area you’re on with the only real punishment being that your life is only refilled three hearts. This is even true of bosses, if you die, you’re popped right back to the doorway of the boss room with three hearts refilled. This means you can jump right back into combat, though on later bosses you’ll likely need to leave and grind for health. Still, the game isn’t without challenge, and in some places you’ll be fighting for survival, but it’s not going to make you suffer unreasonably for your mistakes.

On the topic of being reasonable, it caught me by surprise that the other characters in the game give hints that are actually useful. This may sound obvious, but after playing games like The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania 2, and the Goonies 2, I’m used to talking to obtuse character who provide absolutely useless or overly cryptic information. In Rygar, the old hermits will actually tell you what item you need to proceed, whether or not you’re going the wrong way, and even specific directions on certain occasions. You’d think this wouldn’t be surprising, but in the 8-bit generation, NPC’s were rarely helpful.

The Bad

Rygar is by no means a lengthy game, maybe clocking in at four hours on your first playthrough, but it’s still long enough that you’ll likely want to stop midway through. Unfortunately for you, there’s absolutely no save system. No level skip, no password, no warp zones. If you want to conquer the game, you’d better sit down and keep playing. It isn’t totally uncommon for a game of this generation to lack any save feature, but Rygar just feels like it should. It contains unlimited continues and will start you off on the same screen you left off, so the only real obstacle to completing the game is your patience.

There’s a general lack of polish in Rygar that’s hard to describe. It’s kind of glitchy in a lot of places. My favourite glitchy moment allowed my character to climb in thin air as if they were on a rope. Bosses are pretty lame, with few requiring any strategy beyond having enough health and waling on them. Enemies aren’t so much placed in the game world as they are dumped in as you walk around. I mean, these are all pretty small complaints that probably won’t do more than annoy, but they are there.

There’s no real variation in your attacks. You pick up items that allow you to proceed, but that’s basically all you do. There’s a grappling hook, a crossbow, and a pulley. All of them, even the crossbow, are just used to bypass certain obstacles, essentially acting like fancy keys. There’s no real magic system, only two small power-ups for your yo-yo, and no true projectile weapons. Not to mention that simply obtaining the grappling hook disables you from looking up or ducking while attacking in some places, and there’s no way to unequip it. It’s not a big deal, but a projectile weapon would have been nice, or at least something to replace the yo-yo.

The Bottom Line

Rygar may lack the tight controls of a game like Mega Man, the devious challenge of Castlevania, or the satisfying exploration of The Legend of Zelda, but it’s still an AVERAGE game. When you comb the NES library for the classics, this one will never rise to the top. It’s something you play in between the console’s more notable titles. Something to numb the mind. You’ll neither regret playing it, nor will you regret missing out on it. It’s just there, okay. Try it, or don’t. See if I care.