I’ll admit, before this game was released I had never heard of this cartoon. In fact for the most part I find most of today’s cartoons to be rather stale and lacking when compared to my childhood favorites. This is probably because I am somewhat of a cartoon elitist and think anything outside of Transformers or GI Joe pale by comparison, but I digress. My expectations were also very low after perusing some of the early reviews of this game, however after spending some quality time with The Game Factory’s latest I can safely say that it isn’t nearly as bad as everyone will have you believe, that is of course unless you are expecting Virtua Fighter out of a kids brawler; now that would just be ridiculous don’t you think?
Legend of the Dragon is a fighting game from the Game Factory and NEKO Entertainment based on the Toon Disney animated show of the same name. The story follows the lives of two 15-year old twins named Ang and Ling who represent two different sides of a martial-arts conflict between humans who can transform into beasts ala the classic Hudson brawler Bloody Roar.
The fighting system is extremely elementary featuring only two attack buttons with a limited amount of combos executed by stringing together this limited palette. You also have no special moves when in human form which really limits the battlefield. Throughout the battle though you continue to fill up a special meter that will allow you to change into your guardian form; for the most part these forms are simply the same as your human form with extra armor, but others do sport beast-like features.
In this form your attacks remain the same aside from the fact that you can now perform charged attacks. This is where the Wii version really differentiates itself; on Nintendo’s console you can waggle in collaboration with the onscreen motions to either win this virtual tug of war or if you are on the receiving end you will block the attack entirely.
There is also a Simon-Says type of battle that requires one player to enter a string of motions on the controller which their opponent gets a quick glimpse of and then must repeat it to defend. While these new additions to the basic formula are appreciated it is a bit disheartening that these attacks are identical for every single character in the game thus limiting their appeal drastically.
Outside of your standard modes such as Vs., Practice, and Survival you also have the core game which is a quest mode. Now it may seem cliché these days that every fighting game must have a single-player quest for your fighter to complete, but it does work in conjunction with the show. Here you will take control of either Ang or Ling and move them around a giant map that resembles your standard board game. Along the way you will partake in challenges that are reminiscent of just about every other quest mode. Certain battles will give you strict stipulations such as timed matches and having to win using specific combos.
Visually the game has a very colorful cel-shaded motif that really captures the feeling of the show. Granted the game doesn’t sport the latest technology considering it was built for PS2 and simply ported to the Wii, but it does get the job done. Character animations are a little on the limited side and the environments are generally bland and not very spacious, it does have some interactive objects and scenery that do a nice job of portraying the look and feel of the show. The sound on the other hand is extremely lacking as most of the game is text driven. Those hoping for some voiceovers directly from the show will be disappointed as outside of a few grunts and groans this game plods along at a silent pace.
With a colorful cast of characters and some inventive fight mechanics Legend of the Dragon isn’t a bad game; it just doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the pack. The simplistic combat lends itself well to the Wii remote and the special attacks really liven up the otherwise dull back and forth battles. If you are a fan of the show I recommend giving this one a rent as it may surprise you. Fans of hardcore brawlers such as Virtua Fighter and Dead or Alive will want to steer clear of this one though.