The animal kingdom learns kung fu.
Although it seems to be a common theme among Disney films, have you ever wondered what our planet would be like if a handful of animal species could talk, and controlled the earth? We’ve been there and done that with Planet of the Apes, and apparently we are doing it again… for the second time. Legend of Kay Anniversary shows up as a remake of a ten year old PS2 game across the last two generations of consoles. Let’s examine Legend of Kay to determine if it deserved the high definition treatment.
In a world where rats rule apes and cats, frogs are distinctly Jamaican, and rabbits live in Hobbit holes– Legend of Kay Anniversary presents a charming 3D atmosphere. Our protagonist, Kay, conducts himself as an adolescent cat that often says immature things. His kung fu master teaches him the basics for combat in this 3D action platforming game, but Kay will pick up a lot of movement skills on the fly himself.
When Legend of Kay Anniversary begins, you are dropped into cat village at the onset of leadership by rats and apes. The imposing rodents demand the closing of all martial arts schools and the relinquishment of weapons. When you start to notice that the animations get repetitive and the camera is a hula hoop that can only rotate when you are standing away from walls, you are released into the real game outside of Kay’s home village. While progressing through the game seems to be focused on subtle puzzle solving through platforming and mini-games, there are skirmishes with enemies dabbled throughout the game. The combat is hard and unforgiving. Luckily, your master teaches you vital skills, and you get power-ups that can make handling the fights manageable. You can carry a certain number of items that you find through out the levels, or can be purchased from a shopkeeper.
A combo system flourishes in Legend of Kay Anniversary, where you can zip from one enemy or target to the next with the tap of a button. It makes finishing off flying enemies and expert level platforming much easier to do; and it is a clever way to add hidden gems to the game like treasure chests that can only be opened if you have a certain number of combo points. There are also cat statues hidden throughout all the levels. Finding them enables optional quests that almost always end with an upgrade for your character like heart containers and improved sword. The racing levels will grow on you as you drift around corners on a boar looking for nuts and hot peppers.
While Legend of Kay Anniversary looks very attractive with its cartoony appeal, there is a lot to be said about the lacking perception of depth and how bad it is accentuated by the camera in the game. With very little shading or shadows, it’s hard to tell what angle you need to do your jumps– or even how far away something is. This is forgivable because the cost of missing a jump is just one health point and a trip back to the nearest non-moving platform. Less forgiving is the way you can skip cinematics. You can click through all animations, even dying, except when characters are speaking to each other through the in-game engine. I actually appreciated not being able to skip the story as the game became more interesting. The voice acting is actually good, although the stock animations get old fast. The shopkeeper you acquire items from is cute and funny, and bears a striking resemblance to your master. Most of the characters, aside from the cats, make the experience of completing quests for them enjoyable.
Legend of Kay Anniversary is a game you want to pay close attention to if you want to acquire the bonuses throughout the levels. It will most likely be your second or third play through before you start finishing the extra quests. This is because you will likely trigger the end of a chapter before finishing them. Is the game worth a second go-around, or even a first play? If you like cartoony platforming games that remind you of the PS1 and N64 era, then this could be your jam.