Legend of Kay Review
Legend of Kay box art
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
Spitting Up a Hairball
by Tony Capri

So, here’s a game you probably never heard of and didn’t care about, yet JoWood Entertainment decided to port it from the PS2 to Nintendo DS anyway. It’s 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 one’s got all the right stuff for the bargain bin.

Legend of Kay screenshot

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, there’s 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 Kay’s back by pressing either of the shoulder buttons, but that’s 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 aren’t bad, and exploring environments offers some mild enjoyment. Kay’s 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 Kay’s going to land during a given platforming segment is usually guesswork.

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You’ll 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 can’t see where Kay’s 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. It’s a frustrating design paradigm that pollutes the entire game.

Legend of Kay screenshot

Again, there’s no real combat in Legend of Kay for DS, and the only other adventure you’ll 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. You’ll 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 screenshot

Legend of Kay shows you a very small handful of tricks at the start and forces you to run them into the ground. It’s 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.

Screenshots / Images
Legend of Kay screenshot - click to enlarge Legend of Kay screenshot - click to enlarge Legend of Kay screenshot - click to enlarge Legend of Kay screenshot - click to enlarge

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