Rygar

I missed out on last week’s PlayStation 2 Classic update, but luckily they don’t have anything posted this week. Nothing wrong with playing a little catch up, especially for a game I would love to recommend.

Tecmo tapped an NES cult classic to answer the heavy hitting action in Capcom’s hot new series, Devil May Cry, and ironically, the game also became a cult hit of its time. Rygar: The Legendary Adventure had all the makings of a decent new franchise for Tecmo to build on, but the game was lost amongst a cloud of better marketed titles during a time when the previous generation was finally hitting its stride.

For what it’s worth, the game is a Devil May Cry clone, down to its fixed camera angles and intense combat. Much like the NES game though, Rygar is equipped with “Diskarmor,” a truly unique weapon which can best be described as a spiked shield with a retractable chain attachment. Rygar finds three of these on his journey, and each improves with usage, so the combat never becomes too stale.

The true allure of Rygar came from the majestic feel of its setting, though. Devil May Cry‘s castle was a claustrophobic nightmare, dark and pitted with awkward corners and a sense of actually being trapped in hell. Rygar starts small in a tightly confined hallway, but his Greek mythology inspired chaotic world quickly opens up with marvelous set pieces. Huge castles, open skies, crazy rock formations. At least, this is how my high school mind registered these new PlayStation 2 graphics.

Tecmo found better success with Ninja Gaiden in 2004, and Sony’s God of War took a much angrier turn at Greek mythology and proved to ulimately be more successful, leaving the Rygar franchise dead in its tracks. The only other stab at giving the series another chance was in 2008 when Tecmo ported the game to the Wii, but they redesigned the hero to look like a total jerk, and I don’t blame those who didn’t want to give him another chance.

It’s a shame, too. Rygar: The Legendary Adventure won’t ever be fondly remembered as a lost masterpiece, but the gamers who give it a chance will find a solid game free from the shackles of modern conventions like angry stories or overly complicated controls.