Legend of Kay PlayStation 2
by JoWooD Productions
Developed by Neon Studios
Release Date: Out Now
There are certain times of the year when it's tough to release a game that many will not have heard of. Usually these are holiday periods, mainly the build up to Christmas, when everyone looks at the gaming scene to see what titles they can pick up. For a game like Legend of Kay that most gamers will know nothing about, March would seem to be a great time to release a game as it avoids the holiday season glut of games. However March 2005 is not quiet by any means. Metal Gear Solid 3, Gran Turismo 4, the Nintendo DS console and many more titles have ended up being released in March and could well grab attention away from original titles that might otherwise have grabbed the enthusiastic gamers' attention. It's a fair bet then that most won't know about Legend of Kay and that's a shame.
Legend of Kay is a tale of oppression and a battle to overcome it. Kay's beautiful homeland of Yenching is overtaken by a gorilla army led by the evil Shun. To make matters worse they seemed to have teamed up with the rats. This is especially bad news for cats (which is what Kay is). As you can probably guess from the name Yenching these are oriental style cats with their own type of Kung Fu and martial arts certainly play a part in the game but as the game begins, Kay's people are in no shape to resist the evil designs of Shun and his evil army and things seem to be going from bad to worse. It's up to Kay to make a difference.
For the most part the game seems like it would be a run of the mill action/platform game but Neon Studios have managed to include some polished game play as well as innovating in a key area of the game. As you can imagine combat plays a key part in Legend of Kay and although initially it's a simple process before long you'll be learning an elaborate combo system that allows you to perform double attacks, triple attacks, uppercuts, jumping attacks, somersault attacks, rolling attacks, magic attacks and roundhouse attacks. You'll also have access to different weapons in the game such as swords, hammers, and claws which, along with the range of attacks on offer makes for some satisfying battles. You'll also be able to ride various animals such as wild boar or even a dragon.
Although it's not a feature that most will get excited about it's worth mentioning that Neon have included a great autosave system that doesn't spoil the flow of your game. Throughout the game you'll find various save points just like in any other game of this nature. However in Legend of Kay all you have to do to save your game is to walk past a save game point. This will trigger an autosave and a memory card icon will appear on the screen (you'll continue to play on by the way) and then finally a green tick will appear on the memory card icon to signify that the save was completed. This means you don't have to stop playing or access a menu to save, which is excellent. This is an excellent save system and one that I hope will appear in all future titles.
I was surprised to find that Legend of Kay is a very good looking game indeed. All too often in action games it's common for some of the visuals to lack quality but Legend of Kay's visuals have almost a Nintendo type quality about them. The characters, the buildings and the environments all look very good. The only disappointment in this area of the game is the frame rate which does dip from time to time and is quite noticeable and although it doesn't really spoil anything it is a shame the frame rate couldn't have been more constant. The developers decided to go with a bright and colourful palette for the game and it really manages to add visual charm to the game. Camera issues are not uncommon in games of this nature and whilst Legend of Kay has a few innovations, it's still stuck with a dodgy camera that will irritate you at times.
Deaf gamers will be pleased to learn that Legend of Kay is subtitled (they can be enabled in the game options menu). The games cutscenes are subtitled too so you'll be able to follow the games story. I particularly like how the conversations have been subtitled. The text has been placed on a rectangular overlay that makes the white text easy to read. In addition you can also scroll back and forth to read the text at your own pace before pressing the X button to continue the conversation. Should you trigger a conversation with a character and they just say the same old thing you've heard many times before, you can simply press the triangle button to instantly quit the conversation. You are notified in text when an objective has been given and you can check on your objectives at any time by pressing the select button.
Legend of Kay is a surprisingly solid action/platform game that proves the PlayStation 2 isn't just about Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank. The game, on the whole, has been enjoyable to play. Neon has obviously tried to make a game that's slightly different from what's gone before and the game certainly feels fresh. The combat in the game is very good and the save system is one that's sure to be copied many times over. Whilst I certainly wouldn't class Legend of Kay as a classic, it's definitely a game worthy of your attention if platform/action type games are your thing and it definitely doesn't deserve to get lost in a wave of highly anticipated sequels.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Releasing in an usually busy month of March, it's going to be difficult for Legend of Kay to attract the attention it deserves. However if you're a fan of action/platform games then Legend of Kay is a game that you should not miss out on.
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
No problems at all and Neon have done a good job in catering for deaf gamers.