You may remember our review of Legend of the Dragon for the Nintendo Wii not too long ago. If so then you will also know that the game is not nearly as bad as some people would have you believe. For the PSP iteration Neko Entertainment has taken this surprisingly addictive little brawler and squashed down to fit on Sony’s handheld powerhouse. The end result is a fun little brawler that never tries too hard to be something that it is not.
The storyline follows the lives of 15-year old twins named Ang and Ling who each represent their own side of a long-running martial-arts rivalry. The catch here is that LotD shares more in common with Hudson’s classic PSOne brawler Bloody Roar than it does a Soul Calibur or Tekken. Each character can transform into a beast that gives you increased strength plus access to special moves that cannot be performed in their human state.
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.
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 PSP, however with the smaller screen on Sony’s handheld the game does have a much crisper look than its console brethren. 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 PSP’s awkward control layout 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.