Title :Rygar: The Legendary Adventure
Platforms :Sony PlayStation 2
Publisher :Tecmo
ESRB Rating :Teen
Game Rating :7.6
Review by :Ken Gagne

In olden days of yore existed a hero of myth, who set forth on a legendary journey. His name was not Hercules; it was Rygar, and he was beloved by the few people who knew his name. It was the mid-Eighties on the original Nintendo system that Rygar first ventured forth. 

Today, Rygar lives again on the PlayStation 2, thanks to publisher Tecmo. This time, his tale is more firmly rooted in Greek mythology, making contemporaries of Athens, Zeus, Aristotle, and demons who speak in metaphors much too obtuse for a video game. Players guide this gladiator on a quest to save his princess and his land from the hands of the Titans' ancient evil. 

When a game is updated after this long a hibernation, only trace elements of the original can be retained. Here, the Diskarmor reappears as the weapon of choice. This flail-like spinning shield comes in several flavors, each with its own range, repertoire, and ability to summon a unique monster to inflict special damage. Players will find all three Diskarmors quickly, allowing them to upgrade and switch between them as they see fit. As Rygar grows in abilities, so will his Diskarmor, doubling as a grappling hook, pulley, and other devices necessary to proceed. There are a few discrete areas, but mostly the game is set in one continuous world through which Rygar can backtrack to open new areas as his talents increase. 

This 3D adventure game features plenty of running around, some exploration, and a bit of fighting. Overall, it focuses on the juvenile pursuit of destroying everything in sight; players will spend more time smashing statuary than fighting fiends. The rewards for such destruction affect gameplay and environment little: for example, Rygar can demolish supporting pillars without the roof suffering any loss of structural integrity. 

Even the monsters have more quantity than quality on their side, coming at Rygar in waves that must be cleared to progress. But when our brave adventurer stumbles upon a boss — and such encounters happen suddenly enough to warrant stumbling — he'll find himself challenged by monsters of titanic and lethal proportions. These gargantuan opponents wield many and powerful attacks, sometimes cascading them in unavoidable combos — essentially kicking a man when he's down. These confrontations are reminiscent of classic video games that first seem impossible, but where persistence and practice show the way to victory. If the challenges tossed our legendary hero's way prove unconquerable, players are offered the option of decreasing the difficulty setting. 

The camera angle is dramatic, highlighting the beautiful and ancient world Rygar inhabits. Running water and golden sunsets decorate his environs, though other times, the white marble palaces seem a bit flat and unadorned. Artifacts of some effects can remain as Rygar moves, causing players to question that brief glimmer they thought they saw. And why, if the Ionic columned architecture reflects on the marble surfaces, does Rygar himself cast no such reflection? 

The penalty for these dramatic angles is that they change too abruptly — a nasty habit Rygar shares with Devil May Cry. Gamers must suddenly reorient their controllers to a new direction in order to keep Rygar's movement consistent. This sudden switching of angles during combat can cause a temporary and fatal loss of control. 

Rygar doesn't try very hard to live up to its predecessor, but instead borrows its name and some components to compose a new adventure. Though it's a fun game, it's also a basic and short one, with innovation and name enough to keep players interested for awhile. Thank the gods for Diskarmor! 

This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 09-Dec-02