Rygar: The Legendary Adventure
The Worst Greek/Roman/Egyptian Story Ever Told
“Rygar: The Legendary Adventure” (“Rygar 3D”) is a nostalgia-fueled dip into the past on the part of Tecmo, whose original “Rygar” graced the NES in 1987. While the original game wasn’t refined enough or popular enough to spawn a franchise at the time, Tecmo corrected this oversight with the release of this all-new adventure (that nobody asked for) on the PS2 in 2002, with a port to the Wii in 2009.
“Rygar 3D” looks pretty decent. It’s obviously not a big-budget game and it doesn’t push the PS2’s capabilities in any way, but the fully-polygonal environments and characters are at least jaggy-free and feature non-muddy textures. Character animation, on the other hand, is pretty bad, especially during cutscenes in which characters don’t seem to know what to do with their huge, dead hands and in which the lip-synch is off-whack on everyone’s overly-botoxed faces.
During actual gameplay, the titular Rygar lumbers around the game environments awkwardly fighting enemies from awkward angles because, for some insane reason, Tecmo decided that a sequel to “Rygar” would be great in 3D with “Resident Evil”-style fixed camera angles. There is no way to adjust the camera, and it switches to new angles abruptly and unexpectedly, which causes the orientation of the left analog stick for movement to change, which leads to problems. There were plenty of other polygonal games at the time “Rygar 3D’s” release that had adopted the right analog stick as the de-facto camera controller, so it’s inexplicable that anyone would revert to such an inferior method for letting the player see into the game world.
The soundtrack in “Rygar 3D” is merely tolerable. It’s not particularly bad, nor is it particularly good. However, it is not appropriate for a game that is set in the ancient world.
The voiceacting in “Rygar 3D” is atrocious, and quite possibly the worst part of its presentation (yes, worse than the fixed camera!). Every line is delivered with a flatness of tone and lack of emotion or timing that it is highly reminiscent of that classic of bad voiceacting, “House of the Dead 2.” Quite possibly the most annoying part of the voiceacting is that characters continually refer to Rygar’s magical McGuffin/weapon, called a ‘diskarmor’ (which reads as ‘disk-armor’), but pronounce it as ‘di’skarmer,’ like they’re speaking Italian and are referring to a ‘skarmer.’
I love classical mythology and ancient history. I majored in it in college, for crying out loud! Therefore, I find it absolutely intolerable when some hack writers try to ‘modify’ or ‘update’ classical myths and history to suit the tastes of brain-dead modern audiences. This happens in movies all the time: “Clash of the Titans,” “Immortals,” “Wrath of the Titans” – these are all terrible movies. Videogames also have a long history of mistreating the classics, with such painfully WRONG stories as “Rise of the Argonauts” and the ‘God of War’ series. I am actually okay with classically-based stories that modify the original material, provided there is an explanation for the modifications given in the story itself and the modifications make sense; something like “Xena: Warrior Princess,” which isn’t based on any particular character or time period, but nails a lot of little details, like the personalities of the gods.
“Rygar 3D” takes butchery of the classics to an entirely new level by mixing mythological and historical characters together in the wrong time period and the wrong place, adding a bunch of made-up heroes, and getting pretty much every detail wrong on purpose. Even the original “Rygar” and its complete lack of a story is better than the travesty presented in “Rygar 3D.”
Our titular hero, Rygar, is a gladiator living in the service of a princess. The peaceful and idyllic life of daily bloodsport is interrupted when a woman claiming to be a Titan, but who is actually Cleopatra (the last pharaoh of Egypt), in the company of a blue-skinned man with wings claiming to be Icarus, but who is actually Aristotle (the philosopher), attacks the princess’ stronghold, kidnaps her, and kills everyone else except Rygar, who falls into a fissure leading to the stronghold’s basement. Deep in the bowels of the earth, Rygar finds the legendary weapon, the Diskarmor of Hades (actually a shield tied to a piece of rope that allows it to be swung around) and has a vision of an ancient hero who looks exactly like his missing princess. This hero tells Rygar that he must collect all three diskarmors and stop Cleopatra and Aristotle before they can revive Cronos, the king of the Titans.
As Rygar explores the island where his owner’s stronghold is located, he discovers scrolls that detail the hilariously-bad fictional mythology that has been tacked-onto this mish-mash of real myths and history. The story itself unfolds via (poorly-voiced) cutscenes that are so cheesy and ridiculous that I literally could not stop *facepalm*ing as I watched them. While there are a few plot twists, they are all so laughable that they would seem more at home in a terrible daytime soap opera.
The original NES “Rygar” was mostly a 2D Platformer with infinitely-respawning enemies, some action/adventure elements (like upgrading health and finding a handful of items), and a few top-down segments. “Rygar 3D” is mostly a fixed-camera 3D Platformer with frequently-respawning enemies, some action/adventure elements (like upgrading health and finding a handful of items), and a whole lot of Beat ‘em Up. So, based solely on its faithfulness to the gameplay of its original source material, “Rygar 3D” does a pretty good job. Of course, being faithful to an NES game isn’t exactly progressive.
“Rygar 3D” is a pretty basic game. Rygar can jump gimpishly with X and swing his diskarmor around in a variety of combos with Square and Triangle. Of course, these combos are more effort than they’re worth, so the combat just devolves into button-mashing or using one effective combo over and over. Each of Rygar’s diskarmors also gains the ability to summon a monster to perform an attack that interrupts the target at the cost of part of Rygar’s ‘ichol’ gauge (which really should be ‘ichor’). These summons are really only useful during boss battles… and by ‘useful,’ I mean ‘mandatory,’ since bosses love to use cheap attacks that are hard to avoid. For the most part, though, the game’s boss battles all come down to pattern memorization, knowing where to stand, knowing when to jump, and knowing when to interrupt.
There are a few places where Rygar can jump and grab onto a ledge to pull himself up, but these areas are incredibly few and completely unmarked, leaving Rygar’s exploration down to his ability to jump and his ability to grapple onto things with his diskarmor. Diskarmor targets, unlike grab-able edges, are extremely obvious due to the fact that they take the form of glowing, floating spheres that really clash with the overall environmental design. The fixed camera angles greatly hinder Rygar’s ability to land jumps, and I continually found myself falling into pits because I crept too close to the edge of a platform only to slide off. Fortunately, the game seems to understand that it has sloppy platforming and rarely respawns Rygar very far away from where he met his untimely demise.
As Rygar makes his way through the game’s stages, he can destroy the environments to find power-ups. These power-ups usually take the form of spheres that grant ‘Build-Up Points’ that can be spent on upgrading the diskarmors, holy swords that permanently increase Rygar’s attack (which makes no sense, considering he never wields a sword), or shields that permanently increase Rygar’s defense. While many of these power-ups are static in their locations, there are also many that appear randomly as environmental or enemy drops. Rygar can also find a few golden statues that, when smashed, grant him a new ability (such as the ability to slide under things or stomp on things), a new combo (useless), or a sacred stone. The sacred stones can be inserted into slots in the diskarmors (the number of slots increases as the diskarmors are upgraded with Build-Up Points) to grant a continuous effect, ranging from a small boost to attack to the ability to score critical hits. Many of the sacred stones have esoteric and inscrutable capabilities that I couldn’t make heads-or-tails of based on the vague Engrish descriptions.
Fans of the original “Rygar” might appreciate this game for sticking close to its roots, despite the transition to 3D. However, while the original “Rygar” had tight controls, no story, and very little guidance for the player, “Rygar: The Legendary Adventure” has sloppy controls, a laughably-bad story, and very little guidance for the player. Really the only improvement over the original game is the added ability to save, allowing this turkey to be consumed in tolerably-small portions. Mythology buffs looking for a fun classical romp should avoid this game at all costs.
Overall (not an average): 2/5