Rygar on the NES takes many liberties in adapting its arcade counterpart, and nearly every change is for the better. In the arcade, Rygar is a run-and-jump-to-the-right affair with one-hit kills and repetitive stages, of interest mainly for its Conan the Barbarian-like theme and its cool weapon, the Diskarmor – basically a giant, spiked, spinning yo-yo.
While sporting simplified graphics and sound effects due to hardware limitations, the music in the home version is actually a step up from the arcade game, well-suited to the NES and at times, haunting. Adding many new features – the NES port practically becomes an entirely new game. Rygar now has hit points and a limited inventory. He can gain experience and level up. He can gather clues from oddly disproportionate wise men in caves. But perhaps most importantly, our hero now has access to a bird’s-eye view overworld that adds a bit of strategy and non-linearity to the adventure.
Its only fault is likely due to being an early NES game. For all Rygar’s added complexity, there is no way to save your progress, even through passwords. So leave your NES running overnight and hope for no brownouts.
All in all, Rygar is a thinking man’s platformer – a fun and beatable game, even for those who didn’t cut their teeth on Castlevania.
- Ben Langberg