Rygar — A 1986 Arcade Game
Created by Tecmo
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. Playing this game again brought back memories of all of the fun I had after school with my ‘spare’ pocket money — mostly from returning glass soda bottles which at that time returned 5 cents each.
I would say it’s up there with some of my favorite arcade games of all time — though I do get why so many people turn away from this game because of it’s level of difficulty. In all the times I have played this game — both in the arcades and on the Sharp x68000 — I have only reached the end of this game three times on a single credit. More often than not I lose lives at sometime during rounds 08, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 19 — which I think are the toughest rounds in the game — before needing to put more credits in to continue.
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.
You control Rygar, a previously dead warrior who has risen from the grave to try to defeat King Ligar, an evil villain who who has taken over the land of Argos. You will need to run, jump and use your main method of attack known as a Diskarmor — a large chain wielded disk (shield) weapon — to survive and defeat the enemy and eventually, Ligar.
Moving through the 27 levels you will come across over 20 different kinds of mutated animal enemies including lava men, armored rhinos, chameleons and what appears to be rock throwing apes.
When 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, which is handy getting flying enemies or enemies standing in trees or on ledges.
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, which increases based on the number of enemies you destroy and you will be 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. No points are awarded 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 and once found, you shoot it to change the item into the item you wish to collect. You can change this item into any of the above mentioned items, except for 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. The Cross Power Icon is ONLY found on Rounds 07, 17 and 25 and inside the extremely rare Question Mark Game Item. 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
Tree Based Enemies
The Ape sit up trees and throw rocks down at you. Sometimes, they will attempt to jump down and attack you but they are easily taken care of if you have the Star Power Icon and the Sun Power Icon.
These Swooping Bats wait almost always in trees and attempt to swoop down and attack you unexpectedly and then fly away. You can kill these bats with the Diskarmor but they cannot be killed with the Tiger Power Icon.
Cave Based Enemies
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.
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 while 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.
Underground Based Enemies
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 and it often signals the spot where more Lava Men will appear. They take multiple hits to kill even with the Crown Power Icon.
Giant Red Worm
The Red Worms attack you through the ground, curling up into a ball and rolling and bouncing off objects to attempt hit you like a bowling ball. They will return underground if left for a long enough time.
Above Ground Based Enemies
Rhinos (Large and Small)
The Large Rhino’s — which appear in the most critical rounds of the game: 04, 13, 15, 19, 26 and 27 — charge at you and will trample you to death if you can’t kill or evade them. They also get faster as you progress through the game and on some level they will carry a dragon 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.
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 once you have walked on them, 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.
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 to run at you and then attempt to jump on you — but if you manage to jump over them they will turn around and attack again.
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.
Sky Based Enemies
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.
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 times throughout the game where these Riders are seen on the backs of the Large Rhino, throwing axes at you. It is these combinations that makes this enemy the second most difficult enemy in the entire game behind the Mutant Frog.
Griffins are found on many rounds and can at times be difficult to deal with — Round 20 they act like a swarm of bees so take a look at the Griffin Riding trick further below to help you out if you get into a tough spot with them.
Hiding Animal Enemies
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, so you can get some warning before they attack. They are in only a few rounds of the game, but particularly 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
These Flying Fish only appear in the Rounds with waterways to pass through. The water ripples before the fish jump out and over the platforms you might be standing on when moving through the waterways. They shouldn’t pose too many issues, but in Round 22 they give you something extra to watch while the Dragons fly overhead.
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 or just off the screen and 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.
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 — so you will need to learn the patterns on those later levels.
The Mutant Villagers live in caves and they will jump out on you and charge in groups to try to kill you by being overwhelmed by there numbers. You first meet them in Round 06 where you get to see how they work together — but Rounds 17 and 18 are a real challenge where if you get caught under one of the many cave entrances, you can literally be bombarded with Mutant Villagers spilling out of the caves completely overwhelming you. You will want the Crown Power Icon, Sun Power Icon and the Star Power Icon on those two levels.
You first come across these Mutant Monkey’s towards the end of Round 11. These are the least difficult of all the mutants enemies, but they can get you if you are watching other Mutant attack waves or Apes throwing things at you. These mutants have arms that extend and contract like tentacles and they do their best to hit you with them.
Demon Type Enemies
Giant Blue Demon
These Blue Demons are waiting towards the end of every 4th round in the game and they are also in the last round, Round 27. They attack by jumping and trying to stamp on you — which while dealing with other enemies can make them a real challenge especially in Rounds 08 and 16. See the tip further below for how to kill them for 50,000 bonus points.
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.
Sometimes if you jump immediately after Death leaves the screen, it will return on the left side in the middle of the screen — which you might want to use as part of your evading strategy.
Rygar Arcade Game 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.
Rygar Arcade Game Conversions
These are the Rygar arcade conversions that I have played myself, either on the devices directly or via some form of emulation. I have placed them in my order of preference and the best version of Rygar comes from a computer system that sadly never left Japan.
The best version of Rygar available on emulation 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. See the Sharp x68000 story to download the emulator and the Rygar rom.
This version of Rygar is a 2019 fan made arcade conversion, and it’s very good. It is very close to the arcade machine port and is also a great version of this game, though I think I still personally prefer the Sharp x68000 version. I have noticed a few audio glitches, but the main reason why is due to the Commodore Amiga joystick being single button only, and using “UP” to jump especially in a game that can get quite intense, just isn’t the best. I am aware there is a 2-button version, but I cannot currently play this on Amiga Hardware. This ROM is also in development still, and if it were possible to map the jump to the “SPACE” key, this would be amazing. See this link for more information on this conversion.
This is in my opinion the best 8-bit version of Rygar. The game plays well and has responsive controls. The jumping in this version is quite exaggerated and the Diskamor acts more like a gun that shoots red disks, 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 really 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 type modes and a top down view as seen on NES Zelda titles. Rygar purists might sneer but this is a really good game.
This version is probably closer to the arcade version than all the other conversions except for the x68000, and it too 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 so I thought it was a lot harder. 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, and I also found this a bit weird. You are also only capable of obtain four of the power icons which is another difference but 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 which at times don’t even respond to your commands, making it impossible to play and frustrating even with a ‘trainer’.
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. The music is sadly a let down and the sound affects are basic and below average. When I had the Sega Master system, I was so disappointed at the time of this release.
Another messy conversion. The speed of the game is all wrong, the sound is just basic blips and bleeps and sprite collisions are just not right. Some enemies are out of proportion compared with the arcade version (like the CPC version) and the power icons are simply HUGE. This version is unfortunately not that playable nor fun and at times I found the background patterns quite nauseating when scrolling — which is a real shame as the Spectrum was not used to it’s full potential here.
Flyers, Box Art Scans and Rygar Arcade Machine Service Manual
The Rygar Arcade Machine Service Manual is available for download in PDF format. Below is one of the more popular Rygar Arcade Machine Flyers.
Rygar Arcade Game Secrets and Tips
The other great attraction to Rygar is the number of hidden bonus artifacts and 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.
- There are various stones that rise from the ground when you pass over an area or jump on a specific area. Some of these contain any of the listed game artifacts including extra life angels and question marks as well as any of the power icons. These locations don’t change, and some are fixed every game while some provide a random artifact — so 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. If you have the Sun Power icon, this is probably the easiest method to achieve this bonus by standing next to them, and shooting upwards.
- This cool Griffin Riding trick can be used particularly on Rounds 3, 16, 20, 21 and 22 — but really on any round where their are flying Griffins — though I would not use it during Round 7 myself. 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 for them to achieve the lowest point in their dive attack and then 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 to ensure you don’t bounce off. You can use this technique when you are short on time or you want to complete things faster — but you will miss out on all the repulse bonus points and any hidden items along the way.
- 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 many bonus 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 and after around 10 hits (it’s less with the Crown Power Icon) the hidden red parchment will fall down — but be quick as it disappears after only a couple of seconds.
If you feel it’s worthwhile, please leave any comments you have about this. Thanks very much for reading.