THQ Nordic‘s Legend Of Kay was originally released thirteen years ago in 2005 on the PS2™ and then eventually was ported to the Nintendo DS™ in 2010. Jump forward ten years from its initial release to 2015 and the game has been remastered and ported to all sorts of platforms, including PC/Mac, PS3™, Xbox 360 and PS4™ and Wii U™ under the name Legend Of Kay Anniversary. And now three years later, in 2018, and thirteen years since it’s initial release Legend Of Kay Anniversary arrives on the ever growingly popular Nintendo Switch. The question it is, does it hold the test of time even on the most popular handheld console today? This is our Legend Of Kay Anniversary Nintendo Switch review!
Legend Of Kay Anniversary is a pseudo-3D, action RPG platformer. The story revolves around the mystical land of Yenching where all NPCs are cute animals, including you as the young boy Kay who is a tabby cat. Kay is a fledgeling martial arts student who is taking instruction from a master who likes to tip the “nettle mead” (alcohol) once too many times. Because of a religious code called the Way, the four main animal races had lived many years in their own separate towns. But as the years went on, the younger people began to defect from the Way. Yenching was then invaded and overrun by the Gorillas and the Rats and they rule the majority of Yenching with an iron fist (not the Marvel Comics kind). The gorillas eventually shutdown Kay’s martial arts “school” which prompts Kay to take to the wilderness and then his adventure begins.
The port to the Switch, for the most part, is well done. Never having played the original I wasn’t sure what I was walking into. Graphically speaking the models still show some age even after enhancements applied by the THQ Nordic team. One example, is there are times when Kay is moving his mouth… after the dialogue is over. In some cases, the cartoonish models and scenery seem to have a little bit of a “lumpy” look to them and they just don’t have the detail we’ve come to enjoy on newer game systems nowadays.
All NPCs are voice acted with clear and easy to understand speech playback, including you as the boy tabby Kay. The voice actor for Kay is made to sound, age-wise, as around the pre-teen age which initially made me think this might be an excellent game for younger gamers. I had second guessed that thought a bit later after Kay meets the evil gorillas and rats. There were a lot of times others are greeted by Kay with dialogue that includes “name-calling”. Call me prudish, as the names themselves aren’t awful, it’s just a question of whether or not you want to expose the idea to your young gamer.
The game starts with quests that are for the most part linear and often guide you where to go next. You have some limited freedom to explore and talk to NPCs and find chests, etc.. Your initial in-game meeting with the master has him introducing you to your skills (e.g. slashing, somersault jumping, etc.) that revolve around quests and reward chests. It’s the typical platformer moves here, for example, double jumps, crouching jumps, etc. with the usual, often times requiring that trigger finger accuracy needed to advance. In fact, in some areas, the game is not forgiving. Early on is a timed event on a boar that was challenging for this old guy and you couldn’t progress until you succeeded. Other fun finger exercises are rope-swinging, platform hopping, jumping and slashing totems so you can jump higher through the next totem. Control-wise there never seemed to be an issue executing moves with the joy-cons or an external controller, it’s more about getting the timing down.
Cutscenes are handled nicely by some beautiful hand-drawn art. These were unexpected and were a nice touch. Sometimes dialogue scenes with the pseudo-3D models would seem to be zoomed in a bit in docked mode and would cut off the top of the model’s head. Not a huge problem, just a distracting one. The game is full of Zelda like throwbacks like finding “heart containers” to extend your life, door keys, magic potion containers, etc. All in all, a retro-action RPG model.