"Ancient Rome with aliens?"
Tecmo is well known for a variety of games ranging from the fighting Dead or Alive series to the upcoming re-release of Ninja Gaiden for Xbox. Rygar, in a small way combines these two genres to create a third person action game with some fighting elements.
Rygar: The Legendary Adventure is set in Ancient Rome. You play as Rygar, a warrior in the Roman army returning from a battle. The Princess is welcoming you home when strange things begin to happen. Alien-like creatures invade Ancient Rome and as you might have guessed, the princess is kidnapped and our illustrious hero Rygar sets out to return Rome back to normal and save his darling princess.
Rygar is played from a third person perspective but has a fixed camera ala games such as Dino Crisis from Capcom. You are tasked to progress through each area destroying the monsters returning things to normal, however Rygar does contain a lot of back tracking. One puzzle I encountered forced me to progress further into the level to discover a new move and then use that new option in another area I had already passed. Other backtracking can include finding switches or objects to unlock areas. It's not overly frustrating, but there is one frustrating problem with this.
When you first move into an area it is likely to be filled with monsters, once dispatched you can move on. However once you return there, the monsters will be back. In fact whilst playing the game I stayed in the one area for five or so minutes and monsters just continually re-appeared. Whilst it will boost your score, it can be annoying especially when you manage to get stuck and have to run through areas multiple times trying to solve a puzzle.
The fighting element of the game comes from the action moves Rygar can perform. At the start of the story, only fairly basic moves are in his repertoire but more will be unlocked as the story progresses. Rygar's main weapon is his disc armor. The disc armor is a spiked disc on the end of a chain and this is thrown at enemies to hit and destroy them. Like a fighting game, moves can be combined together to produce more damage. For instance if two or three monsters are in the same vicinity of each other, hits can be combined to multiply scores and the damaged caused. Whilst doing this looks really cool and can help defeat the enemies, it doesn't add to Rygars skill like an RPG would.
Rygar: The Legendary Adventure is set in two main areas. The first, which are actually the levels contain the puzzles, enemies etc but once levels are completed you are returned to a 3D map of the city to find the next level. As expected Rygar also contains some boss fights, and these can be quite tough. In one case the aliens take over a three headed statue in the middle of a colosseum. However, in most cases the boss fights look tougher then they actually are and it will usually only be a few attempts before they are beaten.
The AI of Rygar is probably one of the more disappointing aspects of the title, however due to the fact that Rygar is primarily a run-and-smash action game, this is forgivable. For the most part enemies (other then bosses) won't pose to much of a challenge but there are some puzzles in the game that can also cause grief to Rygar. Puzzles are the traditional type (avoid spikes at set intervals etc) and most can be overcome fairly easily.
Being set in Ancient Rome you would expect some detailed environments and the game doesn't disappoint. Levels are set in the ruins of what is left of Rome, and have a very ancient feel to them. As mentioned before one boss level is set in a colosseum and the overview map also has some detailed visuals including pillars, walls growing with vines and other environmental aspects you would expect to find in an ancient Roman city. One area which really stands out is the cut scenes. The introduction CG is nothing short of stunning and really sets the tone for the game.
Visually Rygar is definitely one of the better looking Playstation 2 games. The character of Rygar is heavily detailed and contains some great animations and the environments are authentically Ancient Rome. Sound wise, Rygar includes a cinematic soundtrack but most of the sounds players will hear are the disc armor colliding with enemies, and Rygar grunting and cheering. The camera is adequate, but a moveable 3D camera would have been better.
Rygar: The Legendary Adventure is good old school fun for those who want a game which forgets (for the most part) about a story line and focuses on action. If you're after a game with a deep storyline and heavily involved puzzles then look elsewhere but for anyone looking for a game they can play for hours or even ten minutes quickly then Rygar: The Legendary Adventure may be it.