Legend is a 2D Beat Em Up set in a fantasy world in where an evil King has recently been defeated and you are tasked with stopping the King’s son Clovis from seizing his father’s power as his own. To accomplish this you must stab, block and kick your way right into the heart of the castle over the course of 6 stages. We play as some random nameless dude that holds either a sword or an axe if you are playing local coop. They play exactly the same and the only differences are cosmetic. One of the things you must first do if you are planning to play with a joypad is to change the game into windowed mode via alt+enter and bind your buttons from the “Game” tab. There is no way to stretch the screen to fit your monitor annoyingly enough. Once in the level it takes only a few steps before you are swarmed by goons holding spears and must kill them all. It is at this point that you notice your character swings the sword with so little force you’d think he was fighting with an inflatable sword.
Our character controls really sluggishly and takes his sweet time to do anything. He walks like an old lady that is seriously tripping on some meds and he holds his shield up with the agility of a jaded tourist raising his hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. That is the most accurate description I could come up with to describe the gameplay. Being able to block is a cool idea but in this game your character moves and reacts so slow that you are just begging to be surrounded if you try to block. The range of your sword is very short making you have to be within kissing distance and the most common grunts holds a spear so you can imagine how that would turn out. You also have a long range attack that causes your character to throw dirt at your enemies and does quite a bit of damage, though doing this costs you a chunk out of your health bar. Enemies will often times drop potions which lets you perform a flashy magic attack that costs 2-3 potions a pop.
Magic attacks, while cool to look at, do very little damage and is near useless against bosses. So we have a character who seems as capable of taking down a world threatening dictator as your friendly neighborhood mailman. Luckily our character’s long and hard years of training as a ballet dancer has paid off and he is a force to be reckoned with while in the air. He can gracefully move through the air after jumping and has an extremely powerful kick that will destroy any enemies in a few hits aside from bosses. Jumping does get around the issue of our character’s slow movement speed though very few enemies can damage you while in the air making the game a breeze. It is a choice between a nigh unplayable combat system or jumping around like a crackhead who thinks the floor is lava. Cranking up the difficulty in the options menu does nothing but increase the amount of life a boss starts with. On Easy they have half of their health bar, on Normal 75% and on Hard they have their entire health bar.
Bosses are the only real challenge in the game and are pretty fun to fight. On the first level alone you will fight a pole wielding martial artist and a demonic living tree. No matter how annoying it is to have to be consistently jumping throughout the whole game it is nothing short of awesome to kick a flying dragon boss into submission. Or fighting a werewolf like beast while freefalling through the air on a small platform. The boss fights are easily the high point of the game and what kept me pushing forward. Funnily enough the most dangerous enemy beside bosses are actually crows. They are one of the few enemies that can attack you in the air and they will drop health items upon defeating them by kicking them in their smug feathery faces. The health items in this game are either bread or roasted chicken legs and restore a small amount of your health bar. Other items that enemies infrequently drop are keys and gold. Keys are used after certain levels to open as many chests as you can on a small time limit and gold is simply your score with no use other than bragging rights.
If you are extremely lucky you may find a 1-up and may have up to 9 lives at any one given time. Graphics feature really good 16 bit pixel art with ton of detail in the environment and big character sprites. They look much better than many of the recent 16 bit indie games that are simply appealing to nostalgia while lacking any of the true artistic talent of those that made their vision true with what they had “back in the day”. I would still like the option to destroy that art by stretching the game to fit the screen however. After missions you are shown your next destination via a map that flies toward the screen using the Super Nintendo’s Mode 7. I had no idea this was a SNES game until that moment and while it would have been a cool thing to see in the early 90’s it looks terrible in this day and age. One thing this game really messed up on is how often they put something on the foreground that blocks your vision of the battlefield. It is very annoying how frequently something like a tree pops up to obscure enemies, items etc.
The music is a nice blend of upbeat music and your classic old timey fantasy tracks. A rather odd setting hidden in the options menu is to change the movement type from Normal to Turbo. What it tries to do is make it seem like you are moving faster but in reality the game is running about 25% faster which is like fixing a tire by peeling out of your garage in hopes that you get a boost like in Mario Kart and hope that it all works itself out. Good luck fighting the bosses that now move like Bruce Lee. The only glitch I experienced during my time with this game is that clicking ‘new game’ results in it booting up to the ending cutscene after I had finished the game until I shut Legend down and booted it back up. With all said and done the only real issue with Legend is its gameplay. In a genre all about the gameplay that is a fatal flaw and drags the game down. It is a real shame too, having great graphics, music and environments to fight in means nothing if the fighting feels terrible. This could have been a great game but ends up feeling like the poor man’s Golden Axe. If you have no nostalgia towards Legend you can safely avoid this title.