Hi, readers! What a week it's been here at Eurogamer Towers. Tom's been playing his mixtape of the latest chart hits from Craig David and Atomic Kitten, while Rob's been telling us about this stonking new sci-fi show called The Ex-Files (sp?). I think I might wait till it's out on VHS, shouldn't be more than a year or two. Meanwhile, Dan spilled some of that new Hooch drink over his puffa jacket while trying out his new "roller-blades", whatever they are. Isn't it a shame about Charles and Diana splitting up?
What's that you say? It's not the 1990s any more? You could have fooled me, but then that's because I've spent most of this week playing Rygar: The Battle of Argus. This Wii title is supposed to take you back to a time of kidnapped princesses, mythological beasts and mystical artefacts. In fact it just takes you back to a time when it was acceptable to use phrases like "Eurogamer Towers" and put fixed camera angles in videogames.
It's based on PS2 game Rygar: The Legendary Adventure. That's "based on" in the sense of "the same game with a different subtitle slapped on as if no one will notice". The Legendary Adventure was in fact released in 2003, not the nineties, but it looked dated even then. Our reviewer rather liked it, despite the silly plot, stupid dialogue, repetitive enemies, simplistic puzzles, dull boss levels and "infuriating camera".
He did say there were hidden depths to the gameplay, even if it was all a bit Devil May Cry. He also praised the destructible environments and pretty visuals. So has the game stood the test of time? (Skip to the bottom of page 2 for the short answer, if you can't guess.)
In Battle of Argus you once again play as Rygar, a big beefy warrior who gets his hair done at the same place as everyone in Final Fantasy. His hobbies include collecting orbs, swinging a big mace about and not doing what he's told, but more on that later. Rygar is on a mission to defeat the powerful Titans and rescue the Princess Harmonia. This is explained via cut-scenes reminiscent of the worst Saturday morning cartoons you sat through while waiting to see if someone would call Five Star ****s again. Sample dialogue: "It was the fang of rage that fights injustice. Fang of rage, fight with me!" **** off, Rygar.
The first few levels lead you in gently. Even during boss battles, combat involves nothing more complicated than running about a bit and hammering the A button. Doing this makes Rygar swing his mace about in a random but effective fashion. Enemies range from spiky caterpillars to mechanised suits of armour to not much else, apart from the odd exception such as floating potatoes with giant claws.
The bosses are inspired by characters from Greek and Roman mythology, so you get to fight the likes of Icarus - though we don't recall him having dual blades, blue skin, glowing orange eyes and an American accent in the original tale. Also, why didn't Rygar just bring a lighter?
Combat does get more challenging as the game progresses, and the options available to you become more complex as Rygar gets new weapons and skills. Turns out the swingy mace is actually something called a Diskarmor. It acts as a shield as well as a retractable projectile and there are more than 40 combos to learn. There are different types of Diskarmor to collect along with fire, ice and lightning power-ups. Spend enough time ploughing through levels, trying out the combos and experimenting with the equipment and you could pull off some fluid and impressive moves. By 2003's standards anyway.
The question is, could you be bothered? Maybe, six years ago, but not now. There are dozens of games available that offer this sort of combo-based combat and customisable weaponry. What's more, a great many of them feature varied enemies, a decent camera, cut-scenes that don't make you want to kill yourself and puzzles that are more complex than "move the statue to open the door".