During the 5th and 6th generation of gaming, the 3D platformer was a viable genre that was alive and well. With tons of mascots and different games to choose from, the landscape was brimming with variety. While Kickstarter successes have brought back the appeal of the 3D platformer, it has been quite a while since we have seen 3D platformers like in the 6th generation. The Legend of Kay was a PS2 title released in 2005, and although critically well received, the game went mostly unnoticed by gamers due to stiff competition. Now that the competition has all but dried up, how does the Legend of Kay Anniversary fare on the Wii U?

Legend of Kay tells the story of a young feline warrior named Kay. When the peaceful town he lives in is overrun by evil gorillas and rats, led by the Gorilla Minister Shun and the red alchemist rat Tak, the local dojo where Kay trains is shut down. His master trainer allows this action to happen, which enrages Kay, and he sneaks out of the village and goes on a quest to end the tyranny of the gorillas and rats.

The story isn’t a super compelling novel, but it does help flow the game along. Main chunks of the story are told in a comic book-like setting with panels of drawings and full voice acting. Kay himself is a snarky “teenage” feline, and the attitude and sass feels a bit like the “90’s tude” that everyone was going for, even though the game was originally released in 2005. Personally, I didn’t mind it, as I sort of looked at this game more as an animated film-type game which had lead characters like that, but I can see how it would be a bit off putting to some.

The voice acting is mostly decent, but the real star of the audio is the music. Legend of Kay Anniversary uses lots of Chinese influences in both environment and storytelling, and the music is all well crafted to help give that ancient Chinese feeling. Every music track is different than the last, and is expertly crafted and a real treat for the ears. The world that Kay inhabits is teaming with little sound effects that always help make each area unique as well.

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Sticking with the presentation, the graphics are, for the most part, very well done as well. Legend of Kay Anniversary runs at 900P and 60FPS on the Wii U which gives it a nice visual presentation. The 60FPS allows for very fluid animation, and with minimal dips, the action is always kept brisk and visually pleasing. A few low resolution textures are apparent, and one area in particular had some very noticeable pop up, but for the most part I found the Legend of Kay Anniversary to be visually appealing. The great use of colors and variety in environments keep things fresh throughout Kay’s adventure. The game also features Off-TV play, for those who enjoy that.

Legend of Kay Anniversary is, at its core, a 3D action-platformer with elements of minor stealth mixed in. A few missions have an emphasis on Kay not being caught, but for the most part, it’s a fast paced 3D platformer. The control scheme is fairly straightforward. You move Kay with the analog stick, “X” to block, “Y” to attack, “B” to jump, and “A” to crouch or roll. Combinations of button presses are revealed throughout the game that gives Kay attack combos, and Kay can even toss enemies by using the “R” trigger. Switching weapons is done with the “ZR” trigger at anytime, and switching items is done with “ZL”. Finally, to use items, such as health potions, you use the “L” trigger. A few times in the heat of combat I hit the wrong button and used an item when I didn’t mean to, but the control all works very well.

The combat is fast and fluid as well. As mentioned before, Kay learns various combos and attacks that keep the action at a brisk pace. Hitting the “X” button also allows Kay to switch focus to an attacking enemy, which feels a lot like the current Batman series. Holding the “Y” button instead of tapping it allows Kay to unleash a magic attack, hitting multiple enemies at once. Enemies all have different strategies to defeat them, some with armor and some with heavy use of blocking, so it keeps you on your toes as you battle a variety of evil creatures. Boss battles usually have a weak spot on the boss, so targeting specific areas is key.

Since this is a 3D platformer, the use of platforming could make or break the game, but I’m pleased to report that Legend of Kay Anniversary feels mostly good when handling tricky jumps. Kay has a double jump to reach tougher areas, can swing on ropes, swim in water for a short amount of time, and more. A few platforms require precision jumping, and it felt mostly good, although there was one instance where I didn’t think I could reach an area and tried jumping several times until I did reach it, and I’m not sure what indicated how the jump was supposed to be made.

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One thing that can interfere at times with the platforming is the camera. The camera is controlled with the “R” stick, and works fairly decently, if not a bit dated. A few times the camera can interfere with your combat and platforming, but it’s nothing too frequent or alarming. A click in of the stick will center the camera on Kay, which you will find yourself doing a lot. One more minor complaint was that I felt the camera moved a bit too slow, and could have used an option to increase sensitivity.

My other gripe with the game is the one area with graphical issues that I mentioned before. The area comes about halfway through the game and is called Frog City. I found this area to be very frustrating, with nonsensical platforming at times, and major graphical hiccups. It doesn’t ruin the game or anything, but be prepared for a little frustration when you encounter this area, as the questionable presentation in it sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the game.

Legend of Kay Anniversary surprised me honestly. I was hoping for a decent experience, and I found it to be much better than that. With 14+ hours of gameplay, and more if you do the variety of optional side quests, there is a lot of content in this package. The most impressive part is the games price: a retail/digital title for only $24.99. Make no mistake though, Legend of Kay Anniversary isn’t a budget title; it’s a fine 3D platformer. With the Summer drought happening on the Wii U currently, fans of action or platforming games would be foolish not to pick up the Legend of Kay Anniversary. It’s not a perfect game, but it features the most important aspect of any game: it’s fun as hell.

Shawn Long
Our favorite youtuber ever, and long-time founding member of our family of sites. The "crass" from our Class vs. Crass podcast

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