Here’s an oldie, but also a sorta newbie–Legend of Kay Anniversary. Evidently, the original Legend of Kay came out on the PlayStation 2 back in early 2005 from German developer Neon Studios, but I’ve never heard of it until now. This newer version of the game comes with improved graphics and online leaderboards for players to compare scores, and it was released on just about everything under the sun, namely PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo Wii U on July 28, 2015, as well as later ported to the Nintendo Switch last May. So, kind of hard to miss…except I have chosen to constantly skip past it on my protracted PlayStation Plus list since getting a digital copy back in March 2018 because, well, to be honest, I need to be in a specific mood for this type of character-action game.
Let’s start off with a whole bunch of lore that will either mystify you or cause your brain to melt out your ears. Because it’s a lot. For many generations, the mystical land of Yenching had been inhabited by many animals, mainly cats, hares, frogs, and pandas. Due to a religious code called the Way, these four races had prospered throughout the ages in their own separate towns. However, as the years passed, the younger generations began to defect from the Way. Ultimately, with no protective code to guide the races, Yenching was invaded by gorillas and rats (known as the Din), led by Gorilla Minister Shun and Tak, the Rat Alchemist. Minister Shun now rules the majority of Yenching with an iron fist and is said to reside in the volcanic mountain of Waa-Lo. Got it. Ultimately, after all that, Legend of Kay Anniversary is about a young cat-warrior named Kay who tries to save his once-peaceful island.
The first thing I had to do in Legend of Kay Anniversary was invert the camera controls, with this being a PlayStation 2 game. Times sure have changed when it comes to that. Also, the voice acting in this thing is…woof. Or should I say meow? Either way, it’s atrocious, full of stilted language and phoney 90s-esque attitude, and a part of me wonders if all games from this era had lackluster voice-work or if it is just this beast. I mean, I’m the guy that, in my mind, still thinks Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was a fun-as-heck romp, but worries that if I was ever to return to it I’d discover it’s just as iffy as Legend of Kay Anniversary. Sometimes nostalgia is good, sometimes it breaks your heart.
Gameplay is what you probably already expect and very similar to other character action games of this time period, such as Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Jak II, and Vexx. Except those were all better games; actually, wait, I can’t speak for Vexx, having never played it, but you know what I mean. You’ll run around a somewhat small, enclosed environment, picking up things like gold coins and other collectibles, and attacking enemies with your sword, either by mashing the attack button for a three-hit combo or using more sophisticated moves, like a downward strike while jumping. There’s some light platforming puzzles to solve as well, and the only neat thing I’ll say Legend of Kay Anniversary has going for itself is the way you can combo-chain from one enemy or destructible item to another, which can take you to new, seemingly unreachable places.
Unfortunately, there are major issues with the game’s camera, which have always been a thorn in these types of games’ side. However, the twitchy and unpredictable nature of Legend of Kay Anniversary’s camera makes it an incredibly frustrating experience, making even basic moves like jumping from one level platform to another a test of one’s patience. Attempting to string together a series of combos or avoid being overwhelmed by a group of enemies increases its difficulty tenfold. If you find yourself in an enclosed area where the camera is forced to adapt, you can expect to frequently lose sight of Kay entirely.
Even though I was just pining after Haven: Call of the King recently, Legend of Kay Anniversary is not doing it for me. Maybe if it controlled a little better, because the amount of story here is surprisingly, but then again, I can’t stand listening to Kay talk out loud, nor do I completely agree with the strange language choices, such as a reliance on the word naughty. If anything is naughty, it’s this needless remaster. Younger gamers might like it, but that’s probably an insult to younger gamers, considering they murder me all the time in Fortnite.
Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.