Roar of Revenge review

Whenever a homage to a retro classic is released on modern consoles, it’s usually easy to tell which time-tested title they’re paying respect to. In the case of Roar of Revenge, it’s Tecmo’s arcade classic Rygar – a side-scrolling hack ‘n slash starring a beefcake barbarian.

Whether it’s trying to mimic the look of the arcade original, or the 8-bit NES version, is up for debate. It borrows familiar NES colour schemes – with enemies including gaudy purple bats and lime green skeletons – but some sprites are a little too detailed for their supposed era. If this was an NES game released circa 1992, it would almost certainly be amongst the best looking.

Modern touches are relatively few unless you count our hero Keel beginning their quest to dethrone Leomhann – an almighty bipedal lion – without the ability to jump. It’s a simple case of hacking ‘n slashing your way through short stages while collecting a few new abilities along the way, before defeating a boss at the end of each stage. A Golden Axe-style world map charts your progress as you head towards the lion’s den – a sinister-looking fortress.

The controls are responsive, and the opening stage gives time to acquaint with the sword’s reach. Later, a magic attack becomes available – these are limited, forcing you to use each projectile sparingly. Our burly hero can withstand several hits – with easy mode restoring health more frequently. In fact, sometimes it’s easier to take damage and keep on walking than to stop and defeat the near-constant onslaught of mythical beasts. That’s to say, we found ourselves ‘cheesing’ our way to victory quite often.

This wasn’t enough to ensure an easy ride, though – falling into water or touching spiked floors results in instant death, casting you back to the start of the stage or the last checkpoint. A death tally is always visible on screen, just to remind you of your failures.

The one-hit death system is particularly frustrating during an underwater labyrinth area, where the slightest brush against spikes sends you back at the start. While far removed from the notorious underwater stage in the recently re-released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you’re still likely to curse after it happens two or three times in a row. It doesn’t help that this area – one of the longest in the entire game – has dreary music that plays on a ten-second loop. Thankfully, the music is better elsewhere – including a rousting score on the penultimate stage.

By the time we reached the final boss, after just over an hour of play, our death count stood at around 40. The final boss puts up a good fight, and a few earlier bosses required a couple of retires. Oddly, every achievement unlocks by around the halfway mark; we guess Ratalaika Games didn’t want to break tradition with this one. A CRT filter is one of the few other modern touches.

While Roar of Revenge makes good on its promise of delivering an authentic 8-bit action platformer, we do wonder what ‘80s/’90s gaming critics would have said about it. There isn’t much to master, the more challenging areas feel punishing and unfair, and it’s over rather soon. But unlike an NES game circa 1992, this isn’t £40 – it’s a £4.99 download. For that price, you get a slice of retro action that fascinates as much as it frustrates. You’ll get your monies worth, but you may find yourself occasionally gritting your teeth.

Seep’s Roar of Revenge is available now on all formats. It debuted on PC in 2021.   


Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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