Reviewed: February 19, 2009
Released: February 3, 2009
Rygar has been around nearly as long as Mario. He first appeared on the NES back in 1987 but most of us are more likely to remember his adventures on the PS2 back in 2002 in Rygar: The Legendary Adventure. In fact, it is this very game that has been blatantly ripped-off and ported to the Wii.
Iím continually amazed at the mystifying popularity of the Nintendo Wii; a system that is home to more shovel ware, mini-game compilations, and last-gen remakes than any other system to date. For every 50 Wii games released one might be worthy of your attention but sadly, Rygar: The Battle of Argus isnít one of them.
My first complaint is one that might easily be shared with those who fail to do any pre-purchase research, and that is the fact that this game is an exact room for room, map for map copy of the PS2 version with a new game mode and some minimal motion control enhancements. But nowhere on the box or anywhere else (other than a press release that came with my copy) is this information known to the casual consumer. I went into this review clearly expecting a sequel, at least until I read that PR letter.
It also doesnít help that the designers totally changed the look and style of Rygar. Back in 2002 Rygar was this Greek warrior who looked rather regal. Now, Rygar looks like some twisted Viking or crazy superhero with white spiky hair and matching armor. And while Rygar himself has gotten a facelift, the game itself, which is now ported to a supposedly ďnext-genĒ system pales in comparison when you sit the Wii and PS2 versions down side by side.
The Wii version of Rygar looks horrible. First off there is no support for widescreen, so the Wii inherently stretches the 4:3 image creating all sorts of oddities including a squat, fat hero, as well as enhanced jaggies that canít even be smoothed out by the optional anti-aliasing offered in the menus. Of course those with normal TVís wonít be bothered by this, but even the PS2 managed to vertically letterbox its version of the game to keep things in proper proportions. The textures are flat and lifeless and the camera movement is often jerky during the cutscenes. The game itself is played as a series of static of scrolling scenes, much like the old Resident Evil games.
The original PS2 version of Rygar opened with an amazing cutscene worthy of the cinema. The Wii version opens with a bland narrative and some voiceovers to setup the story and then you are dumped into the exact same level you played six years ago fighting off an assortment of giant worms and such until you reach the first arena boss; a crazy mix of two warriors and a fire-breathing horse.
I didnít realize how bad the Wii controls really were for Rygar until I started replaying parts of the PS2 version. Jumping is handled with the Z button making for some problematic jumping sequences. There is minimal use of the motion controls during the Conquest Mode, and most of your attacks are assigned to buttons and the occasional swinging remote finishing move.
The Wii also offers an exclusive Gladiator Mode, which consists of 30 levels of increasing difficulty with a boss fight on every fifth level. This mode requires far greater use of the motion controls, which can either be a good thing or a bad depending on how comfortable you are. Personal, I found the motion input cumbersome, problematic, and tiresome, much like Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors.
At least the Wii managed to retain the excellent orchestral score and deliver it with a Dolby Pro Logic II mix. The sound effects get about as repetetive as the enemies you face and the gameplay, so don't expect much variety in that department.
Rygar is an awesome character, concept, and franchise, but The Battle for Argus is a lame attempt to cash in on that franchise, almost to the point of deception. If you havenít played Rygar and you own a PS2 (or PS3 capable of playing PS2 games) then I highly encourage you to seek out the PS2 version of the game. It controls, looks, and sound far superior to the Wii version in every way.
If the Wii is your only gaming option then you might want to give the game a rental or eventually a discount purchase. Itís playable and even fun; more so when you donít have any way to compare it to the original. Even so, there are better Wii games out there so use some discretion with this one.