TWiG 2009-01-26: 1987, All Over Again

Who needs new franchises when the old ones keep kicking?

A couple of old NES-initiated franchises are releasing the latest iterations of their respective series this week, and both deserve to be recognized as quality for their respective genres, despite the niche audience that both cater to.

Rygar, on the NES, was a flawed but still brilliant little stroke of adventure-platforming, a game that favored exploration over the constant jump-hack-jump games of its day. It flawlessly followed the Metroid formula of guarded exploration, making areas viewable but unexplorable until certain items and power-ups were found, and its graphic style was distinct on a system where “distinct” was a difficult adjective to master. If not for an archaic RPG-style grind ‘n level-up system that artificially and unnecessarily lengthened gameplay in a game that could not be saved in any way (there wasn’t even a password system), it might have been remembered as one of the great, long-remembered NES games. Plus, it introduced the Diskarmor, something like a combination of a circular saw blade and a yo-yo, a weapon whose (eventual) versatility makes it an awfully desirable bit of gear. Here’s Rygar in 1987…

And here he is today, getting his God of War on against the Colossi “Hekatonkeil”:

Look, Rygar may have been why my first NES died. I left that thing on for a week just trying to make it through the game (which I never actually accomplished). I still have a soft spot for the guy, and I know that one day…one day soon…I shall beat a Rygar game. Maybe this week’s Wii release of Rygar: The Battle of Argus will be the one.

On the less action-oriented side is Nobunaga’s Ambition, a strategy game that’s been churning out release after release for 22 years while managing the unenviable feat of being utterly ignored by the mainstream gaming press for most of that time. I remember that the first one got something of a push in Nintendo Power, and despite my own interest in deeper gameplay experiences (triggered by Dragon Warrior), the lack of anyting resembling monsters or flashy graphics steered me away from it. While I’m not the only one it put off, as it’s certainly sold enough copies to be a viable franchise for over 20 years, I haven’t met anyone who’s played a single game in the series. Have you? Let me know it the comments! I want to know you people exist.

Nobunaga’s Ambition has gone through a bit of an overhaul as well, but incredibly, it’s still recognizable as Nobunaga’s Ambition here in 2009, in its most recent incarnation. Here’s the 1987 version of Nobunaga’s Ambition:

And this is Nobunaga’s Ambition: Iron Triangle, on the PS2:

I can’t imagine, if you’re into the whole historically-based strategy game thing, that you’ll be disappointed by this one. Can we hand it a Lifetime Achievement Award yet?

What are you playing this week? My copy of the Ultimate Shooting Collection shows up on Tuesday, so I know what I’m doing. Check out the list of releases, and trailers for Rygar: The Battle of Argus and Nobunaga’s Ambition: Iron Triangle after the jump.

Xbox 360:

MLB Front Office Manager (26 January)

Afro Samurai (27 January)

Nintendo DS:

Coraline (27 January)

SimAnimals (27 January)

The Chase: Felix Meets Felicity (27 January)


MLB Front Office Manager (26 January)

Afro Samurai (27 January)


DJ Max Fever (27 January)


Niki: Rock ‘n’ Ball (26 January)

Rygar: The Battle of Argus (28 January)


Nobunaga’s Ambition: Iron Triangle (27 January)


AC-130 (26 January)

MLB Front Office Manager (26 January)

Mystery P.I.: The Vegas Heist (27 January)

Rygar: The Battle of Argus Trailer

Nobunaga’s Ambition: Iron Triangle Trailer

Afro Samurai Trailer

(Never let it be said that I’m immune to requests)