The sheer brilliance of Rygar — an arcade game I used to pump 20 cent coins into as a kid up at Terry’s Corner Store in Brisbane, Australia. Playing this game brings back memories of me playing the game after school with my ‘spare’ pocket money. I “earnt” that returning glass soda bottles which at that time returned 5 cents each.
Personally this game is in my favorite arcade games of all time — alongside Phoenix, Ms. Pacman, Ladybug, Metal Slug and Kingdom Grand Prix. I do get why so many people turn away from Rygar because of it’s level of difficulty. I have only reached the end game maybe four times on a single credit. More often than not I will lose lives at sometime during the toughest rounds. I feel these rounds are 08, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 19. There is also an element of good timing and some luck involved in how well you progress through this game.
I can only surmise why we had to wait until 2019 for this game to arrive on the Amiga. Other ports at the time were all 8-bit computers and consoles with the exceptions of the Sharp x68000 computer. Not even the Atari ST computer I had at the time received a port – yet it’s 8-bit handheld Lynx did. All very weird. At least now, we have the game on the Amiga, and it’s really well done.
Why did the Amiga (and for that matter, the ST) get such horrible conversions or none at all? I can hear people say that P word caused it, not the inability of the hardware. P for PIRACY. It drove many developers away and they either made carefree/careless ports or shifted focus to consoles like the Genesis (MegaDrive) and SNES instead.
Let’s Take An In-Depth Look At Rygar
Rygar (known as Argos no Senshi in Japan) was created by Tecmo in 1986 and is is a scrolling ‘platform’ game where you play as Rygar, the “Legendary Warrior” — set 4.5 billion years since the Earth’s creation.
Rygar is a previously dead warrior who has risen from the grave. Your goal is to defeat King Ligar, an evil villain who who has taken over the land of Argos. You will need to run, jump and use a chain wielded Diskarmor weapon to fight back. Moving through the 27 levels you will come across over 20 different kinds of mutated animal enemies trying to stop you. Using your Diskarmor, you have two types of attacks available — a left or right ‘fling’ attack or a ‘round-the-world’ circular yo-yo type attack. You will need to decide when to use each type of attack help clear the enemies.
Rygar Arcade Game Items (Artifacts)
During the game, you will find artifacts hidden inside of stones, trees, the ground and other objects. To find these items you must either shoot them or jump in a specific location to expose them. These items include:
Repulse Stone: These artifacts are shot out of lava pits and hidden inside stones. They add to your repulse bonus. Your repulse bonus is based on the number of enemies you destroy and you are awarded 200 points
Small Gem: Found inside any object randomly and are worth 500 points
Large Gem: These are found inside any object randomly only after you have collected four of the five power-ups, with a value of 1,000 points
Screen Bomb: These artifacts are almost always found inside an object or after jumping on an exact location in each game (except round 06). When used, they will destroy all enemies currently visible on screen except for Death. 10,000 bonus points is awarded for using this item but they come in handy at times — so try to remember exactly where they are.
Time Item: These are found inside any object randomly, and will add 20 seconds to the stage time clock. If Death has already appeared, the clock will not recount this time. You are not awarded any points for collecting this artifact.
Star Gem: For every 7 stars you collect, you will receive a bonus point score of 70,000 bonus points. You can do this many times during the game.
Extra Life Angel: These Extra Life Angels are sometimes found inside stones in Rounds 04, 12, 18 and 26 ONLY. Round 14 on the Japanese version has an additional Extra Life Angel. No points are awarded for collecting this artifact.
Parchment: The Holy Grail of Hidden Artifacts and if you find it ONLY above the STAR TREE in Round 13 you will receive a massive 1,000,000 bonus points!
Question Mark Item: This is an extremely rare hidden artifact found only inside stones. If you manage to find one, you shoot it to change it into an item you wish to collect. You can change this item into any artifact except the parchment, which is substituted with the Cross Power Icon.
Rygar Arcade Game Power Icons
During the game, you can acquire five special power icons to assist you with your attacks. These are:
Star Power Icon: Provides a longer chain to hit your enemy from a greater distance almost covering the width of the screen.
Crown Power Icon: Provides Rygar with a stronger Diskarmor to hit multiple enemies with a single attack.
Tiger Power Icon: Gives ability to jump on any enemies except Death and kill them instantly. Jumping on the heads of some boss characters will give you bonus points.
Cross Power Icon: Gives a temporary shield lasting from 10 to 45 seconds. Found mostly on Rounds 07, 17 and 25. It is extremely rare to find a Question Mark Game Item which also can give the Cross Power. If you manage to have all 5 power-ups at any time while the Cross Power is active, you will receive 160,000 bonus points the first time you do this ONLY.
Sun Power Icon: Gives the Diskarmor the ability to shoot directly upwards, instead of the standard round sweeping motion.
Rygar Arcade Game Enemies
Ape (Tree Enemy)
The Ape sit up trees and throw rocks down at you. They may attempt to jump down and attack you but are easily taken care of if you have the Star Power Icon and the Sun Power Icon.
Swooping Bat (Tree Enemy)
These Swooping Bats wait almost always in trees and swoop down to attack you. You can kill these bats with the Diskarmor but they cannot be killed with the Tiger Power Icon.
Cave Bat (Cave Enemy)
The Cave Bats only appear on the rounds where you need to climb or descend ropes. If you don’t kill them quickly enough, they will attempt to drop an object on you. If you have the Sun Power Icon, these Cave Bats will give you no trouble at all.
Cave Lizard (Cave Enemy)
The Cave Lizard also only appears on rounds where you need to climb or descend ropes. They attempt to knock you off the rope by flicking their long tongues. At the same time, the tongue stops your attacks unless you have the Crown Power Icon. You can have some “fun” noticing that if these Lizards flick certain parts of Rygar, they have no effect.
Lava Men (Underground Enemy)
Lava Men emerge through the ground and throw lava at you. They appear mostly in Round 8 but are a real paid in Round 10 and 12 as well. One tactic they try is to come up in pairs one either side of you. It is advised you shoot any lava that hits the ground as it often signals for more Lava Men. They take multiple hits to kill even with the Crown Power Icon.
Giant Red Worm (Underground Enemy)
The Red Worms attack you through the ground, curling up into a ball and rolling and bouncing off objects. They attempt hit you like a bowling ball. They will return underground if left for a long enough time.
Large and Small Rhinos (Above Ground Enemy)
The Large Rhino’s — which appear in the most critical rounds of the game: 04, 13, 15, 19, 26 and 27 — charge at you. They will trample you to death if you can’t kill or evade them. On later levels, they are faster and carry a rider who throws axes at you. You will need the Crown Power Icon in the later rounds to kill these.
Small Rhinos appear all throughout the game. They usually travel in groups and get faster the further you progress through the game.
Crab (Above Ground Enemy)
These are weird bug-like creatures more than crabs but that is what the Japanese flyer refers to them as. They hide on the top of the ground and are triggered once you have walked on them. When active, they will jump up into the air and run to the edge of the screen once they land. You can kill them by jumping on them, even without the Tiger Power Icon. These crabs can even walk through rocks and on top of water.
Blue Monkey (Above Ground Enemy)
In my opinion, these are one of the most annoying enemies in the entire game. They can jump over gaps and kill you mid-jump. Their main attack is running at you and attempting to jump on you. If you manage to jump over them they will turn around and attack again.
Drone/Robot (Above Ground Enemy)
Headless Robots appear in Rounds 01, 02 and in 13 where they are twice as fast. Like Mutant Villagers (see further below) they rush at you in groups from both sides of the screen at the same time. They are really frustrating to deal with in Round 13.
Dragon (Sky Enemy)
Dragons appear in quite a few rounds and are worth taking the time to kill because they are worth quite a lot of points compared to other enemies. The Dragons themselves do not attack you, so you cannot die from them unless you jump into them.
Dragon Riders (Sky Enemy)
The Riders fly on the backs of dragons and can drop off and attempt to land on you before charging at you to attack you again. They can also jump over any rocks and gaps so they will keep chasing you. There are also times where these Riders are seen on the backs of the Large Rhino, throwing axes at you. I feel this is the second most difficult enemy behind the Mutant Frog.
Griffin (Sky Enemy)
Griffins are found on many rounds and can at times be difficult to deal with. In round 20 they act like a swarm of bees so take a look at the Griffin Riding trick further below.
The Snake (Hiding Enemy)
Snakes are unpredictable and move out of holes in the rocks and try to bite you. The snakes eyes glow red just before they attempt to strike warning you. In Rounds 15 and 19 be careful because once you kill one snake, another one can be right behind it in the same rock hole.
The Flying Fish (Hiding Enemy)
These Flying Fish only appear in the Rounds with waterways to pass through. The water ripples before the fish jump out. They shouldn’t pose too many issues, but in Round 22 they give you something extra to watch while the Dragons fly overhead.
Mutant Frog (Mutant Enemy)
In my opinion, these are the most difficult enemy in the entire game. You first meet them in Round 06 as they bounce on the edges of the screen. They will suddenly leap across the screen and be almost on top of you. If you jump that will also trigger their attack so the best ploy here is to stand your ground and try to kill them as they jump or land. If you have the Star Power Icon, this is quite useful when dealing with this enemy. They are particularly troublesome in Rounds 10 and 25.
Mutant Tribesman (Mutant Enemy)
The Mutant Tribesmen are first met on Round 02 and often form standing stacks of four Tribesmen. In some later rounds, they just run at you in long lines or they each jump at you between rocks instead. Try to learn the patterns on those later levels.
Mutant Villager (Mutant Enemy)
The Mutant Villagers live in caves and they will jump out on you and charge in groups. Often you can be overwhelmed by their numbers. You first meet them in Round 06 where you get to see how they work together. During Rounds 17 and 18 they are a real challenge – don’t be caught under one of the many cave entrances. You will want the Crown Power Icon, Sun Power Icon and the Star Power Icon on those two levels.
Mutant Monkey (Mutant Enemy)
You first come across these Mutant Monkey’s towards the end of Round 11. These are the least difficult mutants enemies and have arms that extend and contract like tentacles.
Giant Blue Demon (Demon Enemy)
These Blue Demons are waiting towards the end of every 4th round in the game. The demons are also in the last round, Round 27. They attack by jumping and trying to stamp on you. During Rounds 08 and 16 this is a real challenge while dealing with other enemies. See the tip further below for how to kill them for 50,000 bonus points.
Death (Demon Enemy)
Death appears at any location in any round after you have run out of time. You get 10 seconds of warning music before Death appears and then the sky turns black. Death always moves from left to right and gets faster after each screen pass. You cannot kill Death, but you can dodge and evade Death.
End of Round Temple Area
After successfully completing each round, Rygar will visit a temple area where the repulse bonus, timer bonus and rank is calculated.
You will need a total of 130 repulse bonus to promote up to Rank Two. You will earn stripes as you reach goals on your way — two stripes for 20 repulses, three stripes for 60 repulses, and four stripes for 90 repulses.
To reach Rank Three, you will need an additional 240 repulse bonus to total 370. From there, to achieve Ranks Four, Fix, Six and BEST, you will an additional 250 repulse bonus for each Rank. If you manage to get 250 repulse bonus on BEST Rank, your Rank Cycles and you return to Rank One.
One other thing to note about these temple areas is that they offer a clue for the next round. You can see above the temple area at the end of Round 01 offers a clue that you will find at least one Screen Bombs in Round 02.
All The Rygar Conversions I Have Played
These are the Rygar arcade conversions that I have played myself. I have placed them in my order of preference. The best version of Rygar comes from a computer system that sadly never left Japan.
The best version of Rygar available is the Sharp x68000 version. It is almost a perfect arcade machine port and is such a great version of this game. To play this game on your PC you will need to get a Sharp x68000 emulator and the Rygar disk image because the likelihood of owning a working Sharp x68000 machine is sadly very low. I personally can’t wait for the MiSTer to get a Sharp x68K core. Plus, Japanese versions had such cool game covers!
This version of Rygar is a 2019 fan made arcade conversion, and it’s so very close to the arcade machine. I think I still personally prefer the Sharp x68000 version still. The Commodore Amiga version requires AGA to run it. The Amiga joystick is also single button so using “UP” to jump especially in a game this intense just isn’t the best. I am now aware there is a 2-button version available. I believe it requires special hardware so I haven’t had a chance to try this. This port was recently developed and is still being improved – if it were at all possible to map the fire and jump commands to keys, this would be an amazing option.
This is in my opinion the best 8-bit computer version of Rygar. The game plays well and has responsive controls. The jumping in this version is quite exaggerated and floaty, The Diskamor acts more like a gun that shoots red disks and you don’t have the “round-house” mechanic. The background soundtrack is good and sounds similar to the arcade version. Some enemies are out of proportion compared with the arcade version, like the dragon and it’s riders, but all in all, it’s actually fun to play.
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
This is a somewhat interesting conversion in that it is not really a conversion at all. It contains elements of the arcade game, but adds in adventure game elements and a top down view as seen on NES Zelda titles. Rygar purists might sneer but this is a really good game. It also encourages a playing style with a focus on jumping before attacking – which is very useful in the later levels of the arcade game.
This version is probably closer to the arcade version than all the other conversions except for the x68000 and Amiga AGA. It plays well via it’s responsive controls. One thing I found difficult with not being able to see the lava men and worms moving under the surface. The characters are well draw and Rygar moves at a slightly faster pace than the arcade version. Some of the enemies render on the screen and don’t move until you get to a certain point, like the rhino. I found this a bit weird. You only obtain four power icons instead of five which is another difference. It’s a solid conversion and the only one I have found on a handheld.
This 8-bit version is actually quite close to the visual quality of the CPC version and the background sound is much better thanks to the SID chip. Where this version is really let down is the game play speed and the controls. At times controls don’t even respond to your commands, making it impossible to play.
Sega Master System (SMS)
This is quite a messy conversion in terms of game play and the various waves/phases during the game play. Sprite collisions are not the best and things “float” in places you don’t expect. It also changes some key game mechanics and that is a let down. The Master System could have handled a port of this game easily.
All The Rygar Conversions I Have Not Played
All reviews I have read have said this game didn’t use the Spectrum to it’s full potential. I am aware of a fan remake in the works and I will play this one day and edit this article after I have played it.
Rygar Arcade Game Secrets and Tips
Finally, the other great attraction to Rygar for me is the number of hidden bonus points that can be found:
- Collecting all 5 Power Icons with a single life will reward you with a bonus 160,000 points. You can achieve this many times in the same game.
- Some stones rise from the ground when you pass over or jump on a specific area. Some of these contain game artifacts including extra life angels and question marks. They can also contain power icons. The locations are fixed and don’t change, and some provide a random artifact. Be sure to memorize where they are.
- Receive a 10,000 point bonus when successfully killing all 4 Mutant Tribesman that stand on each others shoulder. You must do it before the Tribesmen touch the ground or move. Having the Sun Power icon is probably the easiest method to achieve this bonus. Stand next to them, and shoot upwards.
- This cool Griffin Riding trick can be used on Rounds 3, 16, 20, 21 and 22 where their are flying Griffins. I would not use this trick during Round 7. This trick only works if you currently have not collected the Tiger Power Icon. When the Griffins appear, once they begin to swoop down, wait. When they achieve the lowest point in their dive you are able to jump onto the Griffins back. You will then bounce on the Griffin and to stay on you need to keep tapping the joystick to the right. This ensures you don’t bounce off. You can use this technique when you are short on time or you want to complete things faster. Remember that you will miss out on repulse bonus and any hidden items along the way doing this.
- The giant blue demons who appear every four rounds are worth 50,000 each if you have the Tiger Power Icon and are able to jump on their heads. Be careful though, as if you miss and touch them elsewhere, you will lose a life.
- On Round 13, there is a “star tree” where you shoot the area around the tree and golden stars will appear. With some luck you can collect 14 stars — meaning 140,000 points! Also near the “star tree”, there is the hidden parchment item worth 1,000,000 points. Shoot at the top of the screen above the right-most star. You will hear a sound each time you make a successful hit of this hidden area. After around 10 hits (it’s less with the Crown Power Icon) the hidden red parchment will fall down. Be quick as it disappears after only a couple of seconds!
So I hope you found this article interesting about one of my all-time favorite games. If you haven’t played it, especially on the Amiga, give it a try,