"Decent Golden Axe clone"

I remember getting this game as part of a two for one deal back when many stores were clearing out their SNES inventories. I'd never heard of it but figured I'd give it a try seeing as it was made by Seika (Turrican series). What I got was a so-so weapons based beat em' up title. Legend will probably appeal to fans of the genre but definitely needed a bit more work to avoid its obscure status. Allow me to explain.

In Legend you control a warrior type character. The game moves along a set path while you defeat groups of enemies by slicing them until they fall. You can also jump to avoid attackers or strike from above. Your character can also perform a more powerful projectile attack (at the cost of health) and a magic attack against everything on screen by collecting potion bags. Enemies will drop other items as well such as bread (recovers health), keys (used to play a bonus game), and gold (money). If you've played Golden Axe, Final Fight, Streets of Rage, or pretty much any other beat em' up action game you'll know exactly what to expect.

While beat em' ups tend to be pretty repetitive many of the better known titles avoid the trapping of boredom by giving you multiple characters to choose from or a wide assortment of different punches, kicks, and throws to liven things up. Not so here. You only have one character to choose from (the game supports two player cooperative but both play the same) and your moves are extremely limited. You can block with your shield, although this is useless for the most part. You can't throw at all and I found myself doing air attacks the majority of the time given the sword's limited attack range. Legend quickly degenerates into a mindless button masher that loses its momentum after the first few levels. Your character also moves pretty slowly and you can't make him run or dash which can be irritating.

In fairness Legend succeeds in providing most of what one would expect for this type of game, in many ways it's a victim of timing. Had this game come out several years earlier it might be more acceptable but by this point the bar had been raised too high for the game to really stand out. To its credit I'm happy to say that Legend suffers almost no slowdown (at least with 1 player) despite having up to four enemies on screen at times. The controls are also tight and responsive.

I was impressed by Legend's graphics. For one the character sprites are quite large and detailed. The animation, while obviously limited, is pleasing to the eye. The backgrounds are also attractive and fit very well with the game's medieval theme. You also get a lot of scenic variety. For example, in the first level you start out on an open plane, travel through a forest, and wade through a swamp before fighting the boss. Rain and temporary blackouts add some nice variety to later levels.

The game's music is also quite good. It has a medieval theme to it which complements the graphics perfectly. The grunts and cries of enemies don't suffer from any noticeable muffling and the sounds of your character swinging or connecting with their weapon is satisfying.

Replay Ability
I've tried several times to finish the game only to give up in the end out of frustration. Legend is fun in small doses but simply can't hold my interest long enough to make me actually want to tough it out until the end. It's not very long (6 levels) but it does offer a slightly different route through one of the levels depending on how you play.

If you enjoy beat em' ups and have exhausted all of the more popular ones you'll probably have a bit of fun with this cart. Legend fails to bring anything new to the genre nor does it include enough variety for my tastes. It's still mildly amusing and if you can find a second player the experience is definitely better, but in the end it just left me craving my AWOL copy of Turtles in Time that much more *sigh*.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 06/02/08, Updated 06/16/08

Game Release: Legend (US, 04/30/94)

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