Legend of Kay Anniversary (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Josh Di Falco 19.01.2019

Review for Legend of Kay Anniversary on Nintendo Switch

Legend of Kay had originally been released in 2005, towards the end of the retro-styled action-platforming games in the vein of Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet and Clank. Fortunately for its time, Kay's adventure delivered well on a lengthy story, while its mechanics were so entrenched in its time that it made sense. Now, over a decade since its inception, Kaiko Games has crafted the Anniversary edition for the Nintendo Switch, where Kay's 'Legend' will hope to live on in the hearts of new adventurers, as well as returning stalwarts. With polarising opinions of the Anniversary title on both Wii U and PS4, where exactly does the Switch iteration sit on the Legend of Kay pantheon?

The land of Yenching is a peaceful place to be, where all manner of animals thrive together in their own societies, but bound together with the teachings of 'The Way.' This "code" is the root of what has grown to be a successful world where cats, frogs, pandas, and hares, can each evolve their respective cultures into a world free of discrimination or evil. Unfortunately, as many years had gone by, the newer generations of each respective civilization had slowly fallen away from the teachings of The Way.

It was this loss of the code that paved the way for the Gorillas and Rats, collectively known as the Din, to invade Yenching, and throw all four societies into states of chaos under the Din's ruling. Gorilla Minister Shun, and the Rat Alchemist, Tak, take no prisoners, as they hope to shape this new world into a state fit for their Din. However, unbeknownst to them, a young cat warrior named Kay is preparing his training, as he is also unknowingly about to embark on the ultimate quest with his fighting Master's sword, to free the land of Yenching from these evil invaders and liberate the four societies of animals.

Screenshot for Legend of Kay Anniversary on Nintendo Switch

The story is hardly original, though not many stories are nowadays anyway. However, with the story that it does tell, Legend of Kay switches between containing in-game cutscenes with stock-standard animation and dialogue or using a series of well-drawn comic panels to elaborate further on the story sequences. These comic sequences are not that many, and they tend to serve a greater purpose when there is a link to be made between different locations or environmental changes in the stages.

The mechanics itself does tend to play in a similar fashion to Kingsley's Adventure or Ratchet and Clank, and the action-platforming is on show here. However, the main thing to keep in mind is that this is not a remake of the original - think of it as an upscaling of the graphics. Because of this, the mechanics can feel a little outdated, and the battle sequences can be difficult to fully pull off due to some clunky controls or certain button combinations that the game sometimes struggles to register properly. In a battle, one of the best manoeuvres to pull of is the ability to roll around an enemy and ending up behind them, only to surprise them with an attack from behind. However, because the roll itself requires a two-button prompt, the game will sometimes register the roll, and other times it will just leave Kay in an awkward limbo, leaving him susceptible to an attack in retaliation.

Screenshot for Legend of Kay Anniversary on Nintendo Switch

Further making gameplay worse is the dreaded camera angles that many action-platformers of the previous two generations had struggled with. It is extremely common to run Kay off the edge of a platform or into a lava pit, because the behind-camera view will get stuck on an environmental element, or beams, or light brackets will just get in the way and block complete vision of what is happening on screen. This ends up creating a three-way battle between Kay, the enemies and the camera itself to be able to successfully pivot across the battlefield without disrupting the flow of combat or causing a death. The camera issues are a real shame, as they should have really been fixed for this Anniversary edition.

The various enemies found in the adventure have varying attack-patterns that can be easily learnt and then exploited. Obviously, the higher difficulties do make the occasions more difficult to contend with. While fighting the groups of enemies in smaller encounters allow for greater degrees of strategy, the latter stages of the game decide to throw any form of strategy out the window in favour of just loading up with as many enemies that can fit on the screen. This rather turns these battles into button-mashing slugfests instead.

Screenshot for Legend of Kay Anniversary on Nintendo Switch

The graphics themselves also leave a little bit to be desired. For the most part, the stages and environments look much better than their PS2 counterparts, but every so often, there will be some renders that look like they have been directly pulled from the PS2 title, causing a jarring effect in the visuals department. Therefore, some stages will have clashes of styles, such as newly animated lava pouring around poorly pixelated cavernous rocks.

Stages themselves are split as per similar adventure platforming games of its time. Early on, Legend of Kay sets up an interesting precedence, as not only are there main quests to complete, but also side quests as well that are optional to complete, but are highly rewarding when done so. Unfortunately, this precedence is especially few between, and as such should not be expected in most of the other stages.

The biggest highlight of this Anniversary package is the music itself, with beautiful pieces that even have their own jukebox section in the 'Extras' features of the main menu. While playing through the stages once are required, eventually when the requirements are met, the music to each stage will sit in the 'Extras', among other pieces as well. However, apart from music and weapon skins, there is not much else worth replaying the game for.

Screenshot for Legend of Kay Anniversary on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

The return to Yenching in Legend of Kay Anniversary is not the complete package as one would've hoped for. While the adventure itself stays true to the original, it unfortunately stays too true for its own good. The faults that it contained are still prevalent in here, and the whole mechanics also feel dated and are missing that revamp that other remade platformers contain, such as Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. However, when looking past the dated mechanics and annoying camera angles, Kay's journey can be a fun little treat to spend 10 to 15 hours in, though it does require a heap of patience to be able to fully enjoy it.

Developer

Kaiko

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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