Tuesday, May 29

Review: Legend of Kay Anniversary [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Remasters of older games can be tough for a wide variety of reasons. There are certainly games from the past that deserve the treatment, and experiences that are either worth revisiting or bringing to a new generation of gamers. Where it can be tricky is when it comes to new expectations for behaviors and action for movement, combat, or even camera systems. It’s issues like these, and a surprising one to do with the game’s voice acting, that make Legend of Kay Anniversary interesting to play through but also somewhat frustrating.

In the game you’ll control the young and talented Kay, who lives in a village of cats that has been beset by aggressive invaders in the forms rats and gorillas in particular. After a series of events further threatens his people and beloved dojo Kay decides to take what training he’s had to this point from his master and save everyone. To do so he’ll need to hone his skills, complete a variety of quests, take on progressively more formidable enemies, and always keep on the lookout for hidden goodies along the way.

The two primary components of the game’s performance that are worth noting are the combat and the platforming, both of which have some issues. Starting with the combat it’s all relatively light and doesn’t take much to find what patterns of attacks work best for the various enemy types. Platforming is varied and will have you making occasional tough leaps, doing some wall jumping, and grabbing ropes to move over gaps, among other things. Sometimes in open spaces this can all work pretty smoothly but there are other times when it can really be a chore. The thing that consistently holds back and complicates both is the temperamental camera. Aside from it feeling like it was set to turn in the opposite direction horizontally from most games I’ve played (thankfully you can invert this in the control menu) in tough spots you simply spend too much time trying to fight it to either get it into position or keep it there so you can see everything clearly. While it’s not a constant problem when it rears its head it can be seriously aggravating. While the combat tries to compensate for the chaos once you get a combo going by letting you hit X to simply go to the next enemy but unfortunately there’s no safety net for the platforming issues and this can result in falls that make you repeat some sections until you can work it out.

While the game has had a general graphical overhaul that helps it look decent there are still some weird remnants of the original title’s age, the most prominent being the dead eyes and relatively simplistic animations when interacting with NPCs. Another area that hasn’t aged well at all, and that truly took me out of the game every time it came up is the voice acting. While you can usually evaluate in-game voice between great and laughable a significant number of characters instead veer off into the unexpected somewhat offensive Asian cultural caricature territory instead. I’m not sure what the rationale was behind this originally, or why this wasn’t addressed as it went through the remastering process, but it’s there and it can be a bit grating. I can understand the desire for characters to sound distinct from one another, and I applaud some of the efforts to emote to punch up the dialogue, but I got to the point where I simply left up the subtitles and turned the volume down to keep it from making me shake my head.

Depending on what you’re looking for Legend of Kay Anniversary could be worthwhile. If you played it in its original form and have a touch of nostaglia for it or you’re simply a big fan of 3D platformers, even ones that haven’t necessarily mechanically ages well it has its strengths. That’s not to say there’s not some baggage along for the ride though, with the voice acting being a surprise out of left field. Be sure to check out some video of gameplay and read up further on it to be sure it’s a good fit for you.

Score: 5.5

  • The adventure is simple fun and the gameplay can be varied
  • Boar riding sequences are always a nice diversion

  • The camera can be aggravating and problematic at times
  • On a general level the overall age of the core game can be felt with some dated mechanics
  • The voice acting for some characters veers hard into really bad cultural caricature