Why does this exist? Ideally, this is not the question that should be running through your head when playing a video game. Legend of Kay Anniversary is an inept remaster of a middling game that has slithered its way onto a surprising amount of platforms. This writer reviewed it on the Nintendo Switch, the 9th(!) platform that it has been released on, the Switch allows Legend of Kay’s insipidness to be endured at home or on the go. The publicity informed me that I was playing a remake of a ‘much loved classic’, after some research it transpired that everything about this statement is wrong.

legend of kay review
The wild Kay meditating on his innumerable shortcomings.

According to Metacritic Legend of Kay got at best, a lukewarm reception when it first came out on PlayStation 2 with its rating sitting at 72. Since video game scores were even more skewed ten years ago, anything under 8 was a disaster. Who are these people who loved this game and by what metric could this distinctly average action-platformer be considered a classic.

The story here is confused and the beginning drags on for far too long with utterly charmless characters spouting meaningless nonsense until the bland combat kicks in

There Is A Story

In Legend of Kay the players takes the role of Kay, a singularly irritating anthropomorphic tiger who fights some gorillas and rats for reasons, also Kay has to ride a warthog and gather acorns. There are four tribes, they had magic wells and they all followed ‘The Way’ until the gorillas and rats showed up to ruin everything.

legend of kay review
Kay’s mentor sheepishly explains that Kay’s parents never loved him.

This writer does not have much to say about this story for reasons that will become clear when the sound design is dissected and found riddled with horrific debilitating illnesses. The story here is confused and the beginning drags on for far too long with utterly charmless characters spouting meaningless nonsense until the bland combat kicks in.

When the player engages in the action implied in the action-platformer description Legend of Kay transports the player back to a time when video game cameras often added another level of challenge. The camera gets stuck in the environment, and can often settle in behind a piece of the level leaving the player completely clueless as to what is happening on the other side, which is usually Kay dying, but after spending some time with the character it’s hard to feel too eaten up about it.

This remaster is offensively lazy, and there was clearly no real effort put into improving the parts of the original game that have aged terribly

legend of kay review
Well, this sure looks exciting

There is some depth in the combat, but it’s the one functional part of a deeply dysfunctional game. This remaster is offensively lazy, and there was clearly no real effort put into improving the parts of the original game that have aged terribly when compared to similar fare from today. Was this made to serve as a reminder of just how much better the average games of today are, or is it a cynical cash grab attempting to fool players, who have fond memories of the golden age of PlayStation 2 action platformers? The title Anniversary edition does strongly imply that this is an occasion that may be worth celebrating.

When the characters speak their mouth flap open and shut while they gesticulate wildly

Previous Generations’ Shortcomings, Repeated

For anyone out there who can remember the PlayStation 2 era well, the textures and lighting on display here are clearly a step up. Unfortunately, the improved textures serve only to highlight how poorly designed the glassy-eyed cast of characters are. Slapping some new, shiny new textures on characters from 10 years ago rather than working on improving the experience, pulls into sharp focus the out-dated simplicity of the models. When the characters speak their mouth flap open and shut, bearing no relation to the dialogue they are spewing while they gesticulate wildly. This was necessary on the PlayStation 2 as the console would have lacked the power to render complex facial animation for characters. It is not necessary any more. All that has happened here is a new coat of paint and nothing else. In some places the correct paint was not chosen, Kay often has to visit his uncle who lives in a wooden house, the devs have decided that wooden floors in a cartoon animal version of ancient Japan should be reflective, check out the image below.

legend of kay review
I mean… what?

The Sonic Equivalent of Projectile Vomit

We have finally reached the worst part of the game.. and that is the sound, more specifically the voice acting. In a horrendous oversight, the player is unable to skip dialogue. Grating is a word that fails to adequately describe the heinous crimes against voice acting that have been committed by the cast of Legend of Kay. The game keeps trying to make jokes, never managing to raise a smile, instead fixing this writers countenance in a permanent grimace. The idea of meeting a person with the sense of humour this game seeks to appeal to chills me to my core because that individual would have to be very, very damaged.

legend of kay review
By the power of shameless cashgrab!

What eventually happened was, when characters started speaking with each other, the switch or television got muted and left to one side. It also doesn’t help that the music, voice and ambient sound are of very low quality, did the remasterers (not a word) play the game on an old CRT television and record directly onto a tape recorder covered in pillows, I don’t know for sure, but they definitely did.

Do Not Buy This Game

There have been a wealth (perhaps not the right word) of remakes and remasters, Legend of Kay has to rank among the worst, and may very well be the most cynical. For Switch users the remaster of the Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy is out at the end of June, don’t spend your money on Legend of Kay, buy that instead.

Formats: Xbox One, PS4, Switch (reviewed), PC
Price: €19.99
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Kaiko, Neon Studios
Release Date: 29th May 2018
Age Rating: 7+

Review code provided by publisher