Legend of Kay

Gamestyle Archive Intro: well, here is a real rarity a review from Richard Meerman that doesn’t involve a 10 score, which was a running gag in Gamestyle Towers that Richie loved to give anything on the Gamecube platform the perfect score. Hence why this PS2 title doesn’t achieve top marks. Ok, I’m kidding as hailing from the Netherlands Richard was a vital part of the GS team and a great guy to have onboard. This review dates from June 2005.

Legend_of_Kay_Coverart

Funny that: whenever there’s cartoon animals in videogames, chances are they ‘know’ some form of martial arts. Perfect examples of this apparently-trademarked trend are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, less famously, The Samurai Pizza Cats. Of course, trends are there for the taking – and will doubtless spawn many followers and even more ‘copycats’ (pun intended). Please welcome: Legend of Kay.

The Legend of Kay takes place in an idyllic world where different groups of animals live harmoniously together in their own little communities. In each town is a magic well that, as long as the animals follow “the way”, will always produce water that nourishes both their flesh and spirit. The tranquility is soon shattered however when the animals begin to neglect their way of life – forcing the wells to dry up, and providing the perfect excuse for the evil emperor Shun and his gorilla army to invade and occupy the lands. The villagers seem to have abandoned all hope… save for the exception of a young cat called Kay who has been following the teachings of a once great master, and has taken it upon himself to free the animals from their captors.

The game is best described as a platform-RPG, with a little action and adventure thrown in for good measure. Playing as the ever-agile cat, you quixotically roam the landscape – completing main quests to move the story along and partaking of side-quests in order to earn a few extra goodies. Kay is your average, slightly arrogant, adolescent hero who thankfully shows a little more enthusiasm in his moves than he does in his lackadaisical chatter. In true platform tradition, Kay is able to jump, double-jump and somersault-jump (enabling him to reach high ledges and make long distance jumps). He can also swing from ropes, ride other animals, fight and even use an element of ninja magic during his travels. As with most platformers, you begin your adventure with a basic wooden weapon and limited fighting abilities… but these soon improve as the story moves along, where you’ll acquire better weapons and the wherewithal to learn stronger combos. There’s also the opportunity to buy treats from the various shops (ie, potions, armour, weapon upgrades and gadgets that will aid you in your quest).

Naturally, the game becomes much harder as you progress but also features a unique saving system which comes in the form of a magic lantern that automatically saves the game as you pass it (without any intervention from the player). Graphically, the Legend of Kay is brilliant with excellent reflection-mapping that is showcased perfectly inside the Japanese buildings (where you can clearly see everything in the shiny floors – except curiously for Kay’s own reflection. Hmm). The sprawling game environment is awash with beautiful colours and textures, creating a near-perfect fantasy world with varied themes throughout the different levels.

Character animation is very smooth and detailed – from general movement to the combat sequences – and Kay is as agile as you would expect a cat to be (further demonstrating the developers had paid full attention to this aspect of the game). Unfortunately, the camera can prove a little troublesome – randomly switching its view and making some jumps almost impossible to execute properly. A minor drop in framerate was also detected at various points in the game, but it’s certainly nothing to impinge upon the overall experience.

On the audio front, Legend of Kay again receives top marks, with the disinterested and typically-teenage warblings of Kay mixed into the clamour of combat and orchestral backing track. In the end, Legend of Kay is a solid game set in a beautifully-created world brimming with life and atmosphere. While it begins unassumingly, the game soon finds its ‘furry’ feet; posing a challenge for even the most experienced of players (and the varied side-quests and mini-games are enough to keep you interested until the very end). Although obviously aimed at a younger audience, this game will undoubtedly please anyone who enjoys platformers and perfectly-playable RPG crossovers. Well worth the asking price.

Gamestyle Score: 7/10

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