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Retro Review : Rygar: The Legendary Adventure

Tecmo – (JP/NA)1987 (EU) 1990 - NES 


 Rygar (NES) is the popular action RPG game where you take control of an unnamed warrior (commonly referred to as Rygar) through a mythologically inspired world, on a mission to restore peace to the land by defeating the evil King Ligar. While adapted from the Arcade version (1986), the gameplay for NES was changed from the Arcade versions side scrolling play, to the Action RPG genera.  



In many ways, Rygar’s gameplay holds close to the Arcades side scrolling roots.  The main difference it has, besides the graphics, is that the liner platform style has been replaced with a series of free roaming levels that incorporate both 2-D platforming and 3-D overhead maps. The controls stay about the same in both 2 and 3-D segments; attack with shield, jump, walk, etc. The only thing that changes control wise between the 3-D and 2-D views is that your grappling hook no longer works, though you don’t need it in 3-D mode, so no worries. Enemies will pop up throughout your path, and you can recieve power ups from some of the enemies you defeat. There are 2 types of drop items you get from enemies; Potions, which heal 1 point of health, and Star items that come in 1 or 3 stacks. These star items fill your power gauge, which allows you to use 1 or your 3 spells. Power – Up, which costs 3 points and ups your attack , Attack & Assult, which costs 5 points and causes the screen to flash damaging all enemies, and Recover, which costs all 8 points and heals your health completely. Other than the basic enemies, the game also has 5 Bosses, not counting the Final Boss Liger. With every defeated Boss, you will gain a new special item; the grappling hook being one of them. These items will be crucial for traversing the lands and finding the next path. You will receive each of these special items from the 5 Indoras; colossal, Santa looking Gods of the land that must all be freed to reach the final level. There are other Indoras throughout the land that will give you hints on where to go next.


For the most part, Rygar is a rather solid game. The fighting is standard platform button mashing,  and the enemies come at you in droves. The enemies do respawn at random, and at a rather quick pace, so you well feel swamped at times.  The game allows for quite a bit of exploration as well thanks to the Grappling Hook item. Rygar has many hidden areas that can only be accessed by throwing the hook up and hoping for a hit. Though, while very handy, the Grappling hook can sometimes be a liability. The Grappling hook is used by pressing up and attack, and also by holding down and attack, which allows you to repel. But, if you happen to be on an area where the ground is thin enough to repel, and you try to duck and attack, you’ll find yourself stuck hanging from a ledge and open to enemy cheap shots.

Rygar also does a good job of blending it’s 2-D and 3-D sections. When you enter certain doors, you will be transported to an overhead map, where you will have to battle huge tank like beasts and odd tree creatures.  While the controls can be a bit stiff here at times, and timing your jumps can be a bit tricky, these sections offer a good break up in gameplay, and also have one of the more challenging Dungeon sections (Battling the Dorago boss in the 3-D section was a favorite part of mine)


Rygar tip: The World is your trampoline

    One of Rygar’s more entertaining features, is that you have the ability to jump on any enemy without taking damage. You also don’t deal any damage by jumping either. You just bounce. Bounce and bounce and bounce and bounce. You can even bounce on the games Bosses. You are vulnerable when you jump though, so try not to have too much fun.


While a good game, I do have 2 big problems with Rygar. One of my problems with the game  comes from it’s leveling up system. Like in many games, you level up by defeating enemies and level Bosses, and with each level you gain strength and a bonus health bar.  The system itself is fine, but by the time you get to Ligers floating Island, the last level, the leveling up becomes easy, and once you gain the highest level, the final Boss becomes way too easy. I honesty barely remember fighting him. When the Mini-Bosses feel like more of a triumph than the Final Boss, it just doesn’t sit right with me. My biggest Problem though, is the lack of a save feature. Rygar isn’t an extremely long game by any means, but it does take a few hours to complete, and without a save feature or codes, it means one long game session, or an overheating NES. And nothing hurts a retro gamers heart worse, than turning off an unfinished game without being able to save.


While it has some problems, Rygar still stands out as one of the NES’s must play Action RPG’s.  The game has a great soundtrack, colorful graphics and simple yet fun gameplay that will hook you hard, and fast.  While the game isn’t always clear in what to do next, you’ll pick up on it fast, and have fun exploring along the way. Rygar really has this charm about it that makes it a fan favorite, and a retro gaming must.  I would definitely recommend you give Rygar a look, be it ROM or cartridge. 

……seriously though, what the hell is wrong with this thing?


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