If you can get past the horrible voice acting and unfortunate frame rate issue, you'll be won over by the solid gameplay and undeniable charm of Legend of Kay.
Legend of Kay is a martial arts platformer starring Kay, a feisty young cat who has to save the world for all the peace-loving animals in the forest. The game sticks very close to the tried-and-true Zelda formula, with plenty of combat, platforming, puzzles, and minigames. And while it may have a couple of technical issues and lacks the scope and detail of a Zelda game, Kay's heart is in the right place, and it pulls off a great action adventure game for people of all ages.
The story in Legend of Kay takes place on the mythical island of Yenching, where four animal tribes--rabbits, frogs, cats, and pandas--live in harmony. Despite the fact that they come from different species, these animals are able to coexist because their spirits are nourished by the waters of life that flow from the fountains in each of their villages. These waters are enriched by a magical song stone that is in each fountain. In addition to drinking magical water, the four clans thrive because they live by The Way, a disciplined and peaceful doctrine that keeps everything on Yenching in balance. Over the years, the clans have become lazy and have strayed from The Way. This, unfortunately, leaves them vulnerable to attack from some of the other animal tribes on the island. The gorillas and rats join forces and seize the villages in an attempt to conquer the island. This is great news for Kay, a young orphan cat who is eager to put his martial arts skills to use by fighting the invaders. Kay eventually has to defeat the rats and gorillas in order to restore peace to the island and bring everyone back to The Way.
What's the best way to restore peace to the land? With some crazy ninja combat and platforming action, of course! The cute, furry characters in Legend of Kay belie a fairly deep and complex fighting system. Kay is proficient with a sword, a hammer, and a set of claws, so there are plenty of ways to cause some major damage. Each type of weapon has its strengths and weaknesses, in addition to its own set of special moves and combo attacks. For example, the claws are swift and they can inflict heavy damage on unarmed enemies, while the hammer is slow but it can pound right through even the toughest armor. You can hit the square button to perform a basic attack, which you can string together to form combos. You can also perform an aerial attack, as well as a special attack, which is done by crouching down, jumping up, and then attacking in the air. It doesn't end there though, as you can also roll up to an enemy and hit with a powerful lunging attack. Taking a page from the Wind Waker, the game lets you roll around behind an enemy by pressing the triangle and circle buttons simultaneously. Once behind an enemy you can score an easy attack, or hit L1 to perform a throw move. If you need to take care of a big group of enemies, you can hold the square button to charge up your magic attack, which hits all enemies in your area with a powerful shock blast. It may sound complicated, but combat is frantic, challenging, and quite satisfying.
There's an interesting mechanic in Legend of Kay that factors into both the combat and platforming parts of the game. When you have a combo, you can hit the triangle and press in the direction of another target, and you'll teleport to that target so you can strike it and keep the combo going. Often, targets are way up in the air, but that isn't a problem for Kay. This teleportation maneuver can be used to move between several enemies at once, but it's also used to traverse gaps and solve puzzles. Throughout the world, there are floating pagodas called zhongs that you can target and smash to earn combos. You'll often see a string of a half-dozen zhongs, so you have to hit one, warp to the next one, hit it, warp to the next one, and so on. It's tricky at first, but once you get the timing down it's a lot of fun to zip around. Later in the game, some of the zhongs can only be destroyed with a certain weapon, so as you are warping and attacking all over the place, you'll also have to switch weapons before you fall to the ground. It gets especially difficult when you can't see your next target. But there are handy arrows at the edges of the screen that show you which direction to go.
The rest of the platforming is pretty standard in Legend of Kay. In addition to a double-jump, Kay can also swing on ropes, wall-jump, and swim. There are tons of platform-jumping challenges in the game, and some of the rooms you'll find in the various dungeons are as huge and complicated as anything Link ever had to face. The only problem with all the jumping is that the camera is often uncooperative. You can use the right analog stick to adjust it as you see fit, but if you're up against a wall your viewing options are limited. And when you're running and jumping off crumbling platforms while avoiding enemies, you don't have time to fiddle with the camera.