gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Rygar: The Battle of Argus – Wii review

Review by Johnus Maximus

Rygar: The Battle of Argus - Wii box artIf you’re a Wii owner and looking for a cheap and easy action adventure game, then look no further than Rygar: The Battle of Argus. Developed by Team Tachyon and published by Tecmo, this is a repackaging of a game released in 2002 for the PS2, with very little to differentiate it from the original.

Although its original release was received well, the success of games such as Devil May Cry and God of War have raised the bar quite high. Poor camera work, uninteresting combat and a half-baked attempt at incorporating the Wii motion controls mean Rygar falls way short of the standard.

Rygar began life as a side scrolling arcade game in the mid 1980’s, when games like Ghosts & Goblins and Castlevania were all the rage. Having a coherent storyline was not always necessary back then, but times have changed and even the most uninspiring button bashing gameplay can be made better with a decent plot.

The events in Rygar are somewhat of a bastardisation of ancient Roman history and Greek mythology and from the outset are laughable. After a successful naval battle, Rygar (not his real name), a warrior with no family and no memory of his past, is about to be decorated for his efforts by Princess Harmonia (who looks a lot like Britney Spears).

Just as he’s getting his congratulatory wreath, a devastating attack is made upon the ceremony by some monsters, who kill the guards, kidnap the princess (how original) and knock our muscle-bound hero into a vast chasm where even his massive anime inspired hairstyle cannot stop him from blacking out.

Rygar: The Battle of Argus - Wii screenshot
Even a big chopper like that will not deter our hero

Shortly he is woken by a mysterious and ethereal voice, telling him of impending destiny where he will tasked with saving the princess, the day and the world. He’s probably still tired from the previous battle, but there is no time for our hero to rest, as he suddenly has an ancient and powerful weapon thrust upon him.

The diskarmor (pronounced without a space between the words disk and armour) is basically a big shield on a chain, so it can be used as a weapon by flailing it around, or as armour by holding it close and defending Rygar from incoming blows. Imbued within the weapon is the spirit of Cerberus, who can be called to aid Rygar during battle.

The combat mechanic is fairly straightforward, you use the stick on the nunchuk to move yourself around the screen and the buttons on the nunchuk control jumping and defending. To attack enemies the A and B buttons launch the diskarmor at your foes, with various button combinations performing different styles of attack.

Rygar: The Battle of Argus - Wii screenshot
Ha-ha, eat spinning whip-shield you fiends!

If you’re wondering at what point you’ll be using the wiimote as a targeting reticule, or waggling it around to spin the mighty diskarmor, then wait no more as I tell you that you won’t ever be doing this, at least not in the main game mode. For some reason, waggle combat controls only exist in the separate Gladiator mode.

Personally, I preferred the waggle controls and would have liked to see them in the main game, as they seem pretty appropriate – spinning the wiimote does a spinning attack, slicing it does a direct attack, and the amount of force you use in these actions determines the power of the attack.

Sadly, the control system issues are not the only indication that this port is stuck in the past. If you’re the owner of a widescreen television (isn’t everyone?), you’ll notice immediately that the game does not support widescreen mode, even though the Wii itself does. Playing a game in 4:3 ratio is not a bad thing, we all used to do it, but stretching the game image to fill the screen just looks dire.

Rygar: The Battle of Argus - Wii screenshot
Even a giant green minotaur will fall to the mighty Diskarmor!

Progress through each of Rygars eight stages is fairly straightforward, you advance from screen to screen killing enemies, battling the poor camera angles and solving minor puzzles. The standard enemies range from giant armoured woodlice to axe-wielding cyclopes and there’s quite a lot of repetition with the selection.

Where the game does become interesting is the end of stage bosses, as they’re usually quite grand in scale, tough as nails and can take quite a bit of analysis before discovering their weak points. Thankfully, one thing Rygar does get right is the appropriate distribution of save points within the levels and the ability to skip cut-scenes with a single button press.

Before long, you’ll end up with two extra diskarmors and guardian spirits, with a wider range of moves you can pull off with them, including a grappling hook style move that allows you to traverse many areas that were previously inaccessible. Additional abilities can be granted by adding gems to the diskarmor, but these treasures must be thoroughly searched for.

Rygar: The Battle of Argus - Wii screenshot
Even though he only has one eye, I’m sure he’ll see you down there

If you’re willing to stick it through to the end of the game, you’re rewarded with some hilariously poor dialogue and voice acting, a totally misplaced and bizarre song from the captive princess, some contradictory plot twists and after beating the final boss you unlock a special pizza diskarmor, yummy!

It’s a shame that a greater effort was not done by Team Tachyon to bring the game up to today’s standards, rather than just port it directly with a patched-on game mode. As it stands, Rygar just comes across as dated and uninspiring, even for a genre underrepresented on the Wii. Although some portions of the game are fun, I’d find it difficult to recommend this to even the most ardent button-basher.

Rygar: The Battle of Argus scores two cyclopean eyes out of five

Two stars

Sunday, October 18th, 2009, Computer Gaming, Wii.