RYGAR: Red, Yellow, Green, Azure, Rose. It’s a colorful game.

Review Date: March 4, 2021

Release Date: July 1, 1987

Platform: NES

Publisher: Tecmo

Genre: Nonlinear Platformer

Anecdotes: One of my classmates in fifth grade had a Nintendo just like us. He was a bit odd (he’d call the Super Mario star a “stargeezer”), but he enjoyed the games. We compared game collections, and even though ours was much larger, he did have a game we didn’t. That was Rygar. Maybe it was the novelty of it, but we all just loved Rygar.

Description: There’s a story here, but I’m not sure I understand it. The basic point, I believe, is that Rygar has to save Argool from Ligar and company who took over the holy space from the Indora Gods. Anyway, Rygar has to gain health and strength through a secret experience points system, plus Rygar has to defeat bosses to acquire upgrades to help him on the quest.

Or one of the hermits can sum up the whole game in one sentence.

Positives: The soundtrack is amazing! “Forest of Eruga” had an amazing sound that hooked me in and I just loved that tune. Then I got further into the game and the music got even better! “Mt. Primeval” sounds like a “This Old Man” remix; “Den of Sagila” actually gets me to stop playing and just listen for a bit. I still hum all three of those to this day.

While my ears are enjoying most of the music, my eyes are enjoying the great background graphics in this game. Let’s go on a visual tour, shall we?

The game starts with a great red sky with the sun either setting or rising. I’ll go with rising because no part of the game happens at night.
Maybe I’m just a lover of forest areas, but this one looks just as nice as Ghosts ‘N Goblins’ forest, except for the illogical water at the bottom. A rain effect instead of standing water would make this better.
Background mountains are a regular thing, but I like the implication that something is in front of them.
It’s a perfect tone set in the Den of Sagila, although the flying things are basically Podoboos.
Here, although there was an overload of foreground sprites, the background window looking out onto the mountains is what makes me smile.

As for the rest, Rygar is goofy, weird, and glitchy, which are all good things unless in the Palace of Dorago. The Grappling Hook adds a layer of exploration and even allows players to see screens they weren’t supposed to. Rygar can even bounce on enemies. There is a mix of top down and side view areas and the game uses Garloz as a central hub.

There is only one menu and it’s really easy to navigate.

Here’s a sample menu screen.

The health bar is at the top. Interestingly, Rygar’s health can be zero. He only dies if it goes below zero. Tone and Last are primitive versions of experience points; Tone increases the power of the Diskarmor and Last adds a box to the health meter when certain numbers are reached. Mind is dropped by enemies, but Rygar can only hold 7 units of it. It’s used to cast the spells on the right. If Rygar has enough mind, he can use the spells by lining up the arrow and pressing A. The lower left has a potion and the “instrument,” which are used by pressing B. The five boxes are items that aren’t used from the menu.

Negatives: The biggest problem with the game is that there is no save system. There are infinite continues, but the game is tough enough and long enough that a save system would have been nice. Beating Eruga, the first boss, at least for new players, requires a fair amount of grinding. The grinding takes a decent amount of time, but when players are forced to finish in one sitting, patience runs thin. At the other end, I have not been able to beat Ligar. I rarely have issues getting there, but I haven’t been able to end it. The bosses aren’t all tough, though; Sagila is painfully easy and Dorago can be easily defeated by a programming glitch.

Did everyone expect a two headed turtle that looks like it should be in a Dr. Seuss book? That shouldn’t be a surprise LOL
Dorago likes to dish out peppermint candies, but they’re easy to avoid.

Speaking of Dorago, I have to write about Rygar’s worst level, the Palace of Dorago. The whole level is a mess of bad music, grayscale graphics, odd enemies, and a boss made easy by a depth glitch. The “music” is four notes in a repeating loop (think of the start of those Meow Mix commercials, but much deeper). While players may expect the tune to pick up or add something in, it never does. It’s just those four notes. The grayscale graphics are rough on the eyes as players are looking at zebra stripe type floor patterns. The odd enemies mostly refer to the Ghelman creatures roaming around. There’s no good way to describe those things; the Game Grumps called them “butt nightmares” in an absolutely hilarious episode on YouTube, so maybe that helps make sense of it.

This level is very bad for the eyes. The colors are awful and harsh, and doesn’t even get into the Ghelman that’s chasing me.

I should probably also mention the hermits and all of the stupid things they say. Very little of what they say is useful and is better off ignored or laughed at. Here is an example:

Yeah, I’m sure Dorago will listen and stop throwing peppermint candies with wings at me.

The hermit thing is minor, but between the Palace of Dorago and the lack of saving, I can’t give this an A no matter how much I want to.

Grade: B


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