Publisher: Tecmo, Inc.
Developer: Tecmo, Ltd.
Release Date: November 29th, 2002
Long ago in the lands of the Roman Empire there was an island called Argus that lay inside an inland sea. Rygar, a strong and heroic warrior, was both a citizen and a warrior for Argus. Rygar fought in the war versus the Egyptian empire and when Rome was victorious Rygar headed back home. Upon arrival, Rygar was to be personally congratulated and given a wreath of valor by Princess Harmonia, daughter of King Argus. However, during the ceremony a group of strange creatures broke into the palace and slaughtered the guards. Before Rygar could do anything, Princess Harmonia was in the clutches of one of the creatures and Rygar was cast into a deep crevice. Rygar fell for quite a long distance until suddenly his fall was slowed and suspended and he was bathed in a white light. A goddess had saved him from certain death, and set him down at the bottom of the crevice. In this crevice was a Diskarmor, which the goddess gave to him to use as a tool to combat the mysterious creatures that nearly killed him and kidnapped the princess. Wielding the Diskarmor, Rygar then embarked on a quest to eliminate the strange creatures, find and return the princess, and unravel the root of the evil and destroy it.
Now, at this point everyone is wondering what the heck Diskarmor is. To explain it is a bit confusing, but basically imagine a gauntlet. On this gauntlet is a small cylinder that contains a length of chain and on top of the cylinder is a medium sized shield. The Diskarmor can be used as a melee weapon or can be thrown and returned via the chain to utilize the Diskarmor against distant foes. There are three Diskarmors in the game, the Hades Diskarmor, the Heavenly Diskarmor, and the Poseidon Diskarmor. In the beginning you only have the Hades Diskarmor, which has a long range and is relatively straightforward in use. With the Hades Diskarmor, when you throw it small teeth come out around the edges of the shield portion of the Diskarmor, effectively making it a flying buzz saw. Also, with the Hades Diskarmor you can use those teeth to grab onto enemies, which you can then swing around, beat them against other enemies, and throw.
Along the course of the game you will find the Heaven and Poseidon Diskarmors, which are both vastly different than the other Diskarmors and are suited to different situations. The Heaven Diskarmor always attacks in a sweeping motion, best suited against large groups of enemies or enemies who tend to move quickly. The Poseidon Diskarmor has a very, very short chain and thus is pretty much melee combat only. The upside is that it is insanely quick and does large amounts of damage. To further augment the Diskarmors you can set mystical stones into them to give them added or enhanced properties. In this manner, you can custom tailor the Diskarmors to your liking, and can unset the stones and interchange them when the need arises.
The Diskarmor is a very valuable piece of equipment. Attacking with it is performed in many ways. There are two attack actions, Square and Circle are Attack 1 and Triangle is Attack 2. Attack 1 and Attack 2 can be strung together in many ways to form combos, which enable you to keep hitting the enemy and keep them off balance and unable to retaliate. You can also utilize the Diskarmor as a shield to defend against most, but not all, enemy attacks. Thus, it is important to know when to fling your Diskarmor out and when to keep it ready as a shield because once you throw it you cannot defend until it again rests on your gauntlet. Later in the game, the Diskarmor can be used as a grappling hook at certain points to swing across previously un-crossable gaps.
Of course, Rygar has some moves of his own, although you cannot initially use them. Rygar can slide which evades enemy attacks and enables him to slide under small gaps and crevices. Rygar is also able to lift large objects, tackle, and stomp to both use as an attack and activate certain mechanisms and switches.
Gameplay wise Rygar is similar to many games like Devil May Cry. While not as fast paced or fluid as Devil May Cry, Rygar’s gameplay is a blast. The Diskarmor is a very original and fluid weapon to use in combat, you can be using it to knock an enemy airborne and then hit him again while he’s up there, and then in the next moment you can grab onto a nearby enemy and throw him into a wall or any other object as you see fit. Every place you go has multiple breakable objects, which serve two purposes. Sometimes they hold useful items that are retrieved after you break whatever is hiding them, but breakable objects mainly serve as additional eye candy during battle. It is a very cool sight to see pillars crumble and walls collapsing as you are fighting an epic 10 versus 1 battle, and it is just simply fun when you grab onto an enemy, swing him against his comrades, and throw him through a statue. The combat never really gets repetitive due to the nice amount of combos you can do with each Diskarmor and the variations in each area.
Of course, there’s even more to Diskarmors past simply using them to beat up on the enemy. Each Diskarmor holds a spirit than you can call upon in times of need, ranging from the fiery Cerberus to the serene Siren. While usually ineffective against bosses they can be real area-cleaners in normal combat. Diskarmors can also be upgraded to three different levels. To do this you have to gain Sfarra points, which are dropped by enemies when killed, found when breaking objects, and sometimes just lying around. They appear as orbs, with blue orbs netting you 10 points and red orbs netting you 100 points. When you have enough (In terms of thousands of points) you can upgrade a Diskarmor to give it better stats. It is a good idea to upgrade Diskarmors when you can, as they really help out against the more powerful foes you will happen across.
In Rygar you also have an inventory, which you can use to view and use any items you are carrying. Items range from golden apples to regain your health to stone tablets, which reveal a little more about the game. Rygar’s carrying capacity is technically limitless, but you can only hold a certain number of certain items. You can also use the inventory screen to view and equip your various Diskarmors, as well as set, view, and unset any mystical stones you have found during your quest.
The graphics in Rygar are some of the most impressive to date on the Playstation 2. The particle effects such as mist and sparks all jump out, and the character models are nicely detailed and textured. The levels themselves are set in Roman-esque areas and Tecmo has really pulled that off. Every bit of every level looks genuinely Roman, from the large statues built for unnamed kings to the tall pillars and ornate buildings. The enemies in the game are based on various interpretations of Roman myths and stories, and while they definitely look the part they also stay very original and varied. Overall, the graphics pull you in, wrap you in the garb of a warrior, and put you in the game.
Sound in the game is almost more impressive than the graphics. The musical score pales the music on any other game, on any system in terms of how it sounds and how well it relates to the game. The musical score always inspires the right kind of mood, ranging from the combat music with it’s suspense and steady pace to the light and fluttery orchestra of flutes as you make your way through a bit of countryside. It isn’t an overstatement when I say that the soundtrack of Rygar would make a great stand-alone CD, it’s simply that good. The sound effects in the game are also very well done minus a few small quirks. The clang of metal against stone, the grunts of the hero, the screams of the enemy entities, and the soft whirr of the Diskarmor as it slices its way through the air all combine to form a very immersive set. The only sound effect that seems a bit off is the sound of the heroes footsteps, which sound a bit too loud and clompy for a hero so agile and relatively unarmored. Still, it is a very small quirk and overall the music and sound in Rygar is top notch and work very well with what is going on on-screen.
Control in the game takes a bit to get used to but once you get the basics it all fits together soon enough. The Diskarmor becomes very intuitive, and once you learn the timing and structure of the combos you will become a force of nature. Running, jumping, and attacking are all very natural in the way they feel, nothing seems overdone or unnecessary. The combos are easy to remember and simple for the most parts, nothing will force you to pause the game and look anything up.
Overall, Rygar is a great game. While a 3D platformer at its roots Rygar does away with all of the negative things that are usually associated with the genre and comes away a real gem of a game. With good graphics, great sound, a decent plot, and intuitive gameplay, Rygar is sure to appease anyone looking for a good action game that will occupy you for a good long while. The next time you happen upon a game store or a rental place, pick Rygar up and give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.