|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: JoWood Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Dreamcatcher Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
So, heres a game you probably never heard of and didnt care about, yet JoWood Entertainment decided to port it from the PS2 to Nintendo DS anyway. Its flown successfully under the radar for at least a year and releases in the midst of the E3 madness. Call it kismet or call it bad luck, but this ones got all the right stuff for the bargain bin.
In Legend of Kay, you take control of the titular cat hero as he attempts to ward off an invasion of the gorilla tribe. The game seems to be set in mystical China, with a distinct Kung Fu Panda vibe that permeates the adventure. Unfortunately, theres no actual kung fu or any other form of fighting for that matter as JoWood is promoting the game as a violence free jump and run for kids of all ages. That would fine if the jumping and running were fun, but the long and short of the matter is, the game is a mess.
The adventure is set in a 3D world, and the camera sits slightly above Kay. You can re-center the camera behind Kays back by pressing either of the shoulder buttons, but thats about the extent of control in terms of manipulating the view. Movement is handled with the D-pad, and you can run and jump with the Y and B buttons, respectively.
The controls arent bad, and exploring environments offers some mild enjoyment. Kays run and walk speeds feel good, and though the camera can be troublesome in tight spaces, it generally behaves when simply running along paths and such. This particular jump & run, however, is rife with problems related to collision detection. Knowing how and where Kays going to land during a given platforming segment is usually guesswork.
Youll be doing plenty of jumping around in Legend of Kay everything from hopping across cliffs and outcroppings, to navigating Frogger-like gauntlets in order to make your way across a raging river. Unfortunately, even the most simple of platforming romps are challenging for all the wrong reasons. You either cant see where Kays going to land, or he ends up slipping off to his death. An area that should take mere seconds to clear may require upward of 20 or more attempts (complete with dying and starting back from the last checkpoint) before achieving success. Its a frustrating design paradigm that pollutes the entire game.
Again, theres no real combat in Legend of Kay for DS, and the only other adventure youll experience is hopping on critters (Mario-style), as well as some really poorly conceived stealth action. Often Kay will pass right through enemies when jumping on them, and the stealth action amounts to little more than walking to the side of patrolling enemies no clinging to walls or hiding atop buildings and the like.
Rounding out this uneventful package is a healthy serving of tedious fetch quests. Find an item, return it the NPC, rinse and repeat. Youll also be activating many a statue in Legend of Kay, running from one end of a locale to the other in order to open gates and other passageways.
Legend of Kay shows you a very small handful of tricks at the start and forces you to run them into the ground. Its a monotonous process fortified by frustrating platforming sequences and mind-numbingly-boring enemy interactions. An onscreen arrow will always point you in the general direction of your next objective, but the compass is often at odds with where you actually need to be going. A static map on the top screen does nothing to help the situation.