Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Night Rentals: Rygar, Man of the Deadly Super Yo-Yo

Perhaps it was my mom's love of Red Sonja that led her to play Tecmo's Rygar with me back in the day. Normally when I picked something up from the video store with the intent of playing with my mom it was a head-to-head puzzle game like Yoshi's Cookie or Dr. Mario.  Maybe my mom could just see how excited I was to try it out, and since my mom loves her kids and loves playing video games; she was up for an action game and the notion of trading off between stages and Game Overs.

So Rygar it was on Friday night; a game that seemed to boast a Conan the Barbarian buff-guy meat-head ala' Arnie Schwarzenegger on a quest to defeat an evil, world-endangering beast and some  and his foul hench-beasts.  That was then, this is now. So how does it stack up under slightly less rose colored glasses?

Despite the action-packed game art; most of the animation seems a little stiff when you play, with Rygar making large lunges as he runs and some of the critters look like they're running at you on tippy-toe or only need a single wing flap to sustain flight. I think I laugh almost every time when Rygar dies because he immediately pancakes on the ground as if gravity itself finally decided he's had enough of Rygar and his big, dumb yo-yo hurling butt.

You'll wander into rooms where gigantic gods offer useless "hints" or lame advice, guess they figure Rygar's such a hopeless meat head  they need to spell out basic directions for him. Occasionally these mega-gods actually give you useful tools to complete the games such as a pulley for zip lines (Which work both ways!) and a grappling hook.

A slightly open world concept makes Rygar both fun and frustrating. Just like when I rented the game as a kid; no manual came with the game when I bought it, so it took me a fair amount of time (meaning a number of deaths and an hour of aimless wandering) for me to figure out that I had to go to certain areas before others in order to advance in the game. I thought Metroid was the only game to have this kind of game play, and to think of something else employing a "go here then waaaaaaaaaaaaay over there to get farther in the game" concept of exploration was a new idea to me. Not that I dislike it, just that it was weird to see it in somewhere that didn't involve giant leeches from outer space.

When it comes to the music, forget the fact that one of the soundtracks sounds like a verbatim rip of a tune from Karnov; I swear the stage two theme  sounds like "Go to sleep, go to sleep" or some-such-lullaby.  Aside from that the music has a decent blend of action-feeling tunes and energetically paced rhythms.  The track for stage one has pleasant digital keyboard undertone and what I imagine would have been trumpets had the NES held the capability of supporting such sounds:

In general, it helps set the tone well and keep the action on screen fun while not overwhelming you eardrums.

Upon further reflection...

Man, I have no idea how we beat this back in the day, but I clearly remember my mom and I beat it over the course of a weekend. In fact, I'm guessing that's the reason we never ended up buying it. The norm was to beat a game if possible and then you didn't have to pay for it full retail. I remember the ending of the game, the animation--what there was of it--was okay, but other than a couple minor animations, there was just an on screen text scroll. I'm not sure what I was expecting though. Maybe I was spoiled in my game endings.

By the time I got around to renting this, there were other games that had so much more to offer in terms of game endings. By this point, I'd beaten the first two Mega Mans, Ninja Gaiden, Super Mario 2...and a slew of others. I know the system had limitations, but many of the games I'd beaten previously had great endings full of what I thought was top-notch game animation. Not that I'm bitter about it to this day. It's just...after having played it all those games with movie-like ends, a basic text scroll would have been a let down....would have been.

But it wasn't. I had a great time playing back and forth with my mom, it was kinda cool to have beaten the game together, and the epic end music more than made up for any text scroll:
"End Theme"

It was a great game then and remains so today. I know whenever I pop it in, I'll remember it as the first "co-op" gaming experience I had.

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