The Legend of Kay Anniversary Edition is a remaster of a PS2 era 3D platformer published by Capcom. The remaster was published by Nordic on several consoles including PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U. (Copy purchased at $6.99)
This game is…interesting. There’s a lot of awful aspects to the game such as the lack of polish, horrible dialogue, awful mini games, fetch quests as the only quest…but it’s very fun?
The game’s narrative is quite poor with awful and potentially racist caricatures instead of actual characters. Cutscenes are very stiff and poorly executed. Nobody is likable in the game, not even the protagonist which spits out one liners every single time an enemy wave shows up but they’re all garbage. Kay (the protagonist) sounds like he’s too young to be the hero. It’s a bit odd with other less experienced adventures in other franchises managing to not seem out of place, but we see Kay’s training and he quickly becomes the top warrior despite the size and skill difference.
The only saving grace for the game’s narrative is that it’s firmly in the “so bad it’s good” camp at times. Playing the game with a friend would result in some laughs. You’ll free many (*many*) pandas in your playthrough, when they get out they’ll express a youthful cheer and then their voice is considerably deeper which is pretty funny.
Gameplay is where The Legend of Kay shines above other mediocre Playstation 2 platformers. Kay’s movements are pretty satisfying. The way he runs with his sword feels pretty good and while he has a double jump (the mark of a lesser platformer most of the time), it’s pretty responsive and it gets me where I want to go most of the time. Combat is oddly satisfying for this type of game. It’s a bit complex with 3 button inputs for a single move, but it works better than a lot of these hybrid games.
The game is a bit of a mixture of Mario 64 with Ocarina of Time. There are platforming sequences, combat sequences, and puzzle dungeon sequences. Each major area usually requires you to explore to find some collectables to open a gate to the next area. The map is pretty useless, but I thankfully never got lost for too long. Additionally, there’s a satisfying feedback loop to the game where you feel like you’re constantly progressing. You get a lot of coins from breaking jars or exploring which can be used to buy consumable items like potions/armor and permanent upgrades for your weapons.
The biggest issue the gameplay suffers from is tedium and repetition. It feels like it drags on a bit too long and it’s made worse by the narrative not being very compelling. It’s mostly just going to find 3 different things so you can get a key to open a door to an area where you need to find 3 different things. Each level also has dreadful races you need to partake in which are a bit harder than they should be and they drag the game down a bit.
Usually not a massive aspect that determines the game’s quality, especially in a remaster, but it’s worth noting how poorly put together this game feels. It’s pretty ugly with drab colors and character models that look shiny/plastic. Music is pretty good, but it gets cut out at random intervals which feels sloppy. As mentioned before, cutscenes are pretty bad with all of the voice over talent being dreadful to listen to. It’s also pretty glitchy even if it’s not broken enough to ruin the game. Even as a remaster it still looks like an old PS2 game and not one of the better ones.
Tight gameplay helps hold this 11 year old PS2 game stand the test of time…somewhat, but its extreme lack of polish and poor presentation prevents this game from being a hidden gem.