IGN Review of Legend of the Dragon
Even in its early stages, the Wii already has a few solid fighters that are trying their hand at motion-controlled brawling. At the top of the pile, Dragon Ball Z is a fast, furious, and relatively beautiful launch title that brings a ton of fun, and uses the Wii remote in a simple but entertaining way. Releasing more recently is Mortal Kombat Armageddon, another game that has a solid look, makes decent use of the Wii remote for simple super-attacks, and is a great choice for fighting fans on Nintendo's newest console. And then there's Legend of the Dragon; the Rapala Tournament Fishing of fighting games on Wii. The game attempts to blend a simplistic two-button fighting system with a few key Wii-mote actions, and bundle it all together with a budget price tag and cartoon license to appeal to younger Wii owners. And though it has a few decent moments of combo-blasting bliss - moments being the key word - the game suffers from a shallow design, basic presentation, and overall amateurish effort on Wii.
Legend of the Dragon finds its niche by following the main story of the children's cartoon by the same name. With his sister turning to the evil Shadow Dragon, young martial artist Ang Lueng accepts his role as Golden Dragon of the Dragon Dojo, and joins in the epic battle of light vs. darkness. The animated show isn't incredibly deep, and neither is the game, using 18 of the show's most notable characters as fighters for a cookie-cutter experience similar to Bloody Roar or Naruto: Clash of Ninja. The entire game hinges around a transformation mechanic, as players will use basic hand-to-hand compbat in order to power themselves up for morphing abilities. Each fighter goes from mortal to mythical warrior, which then gives them the power to unleash huge attacks on their opponent.
When it comes to the overall diversity of characters though, there aren't too many notable attributes that really stand out between the fighters themselves. Your main all-around fighters include the stock characters Ang, Ling, and Beingal, as well as the smaller and more nimble Ming or the ogre-like Shoong. And though the obvious traits are there - Shoong is slow but powerful, whereas Ming relies on quick combos at the expense of attack effectiveness - that's about as deep as it goes. You'll pick your player, punch and kick until they are ready to transform, and then pull off supers to take out opponents at an alarming rate.
As an extremely annoying aspect of the game, the players themselves all feel nearly identical. Transformation happens at the same rate between characters, and once transformed the three available supers are the same from character to character. Holding Z and C powers up the fighters, with the same button combination (this time with a D-pad direction) initiating the supers as well. Once the attacks are engaged, it's as simple as drumming the Wii and nunchuk or making specific strokes with either hand to pull off the three moves. Each one is essentially a mini-game between fighters, but with only three available in the entire game they become entirely lackluster after only a few fights. How many times do we need to have a DDR-like mini-game to block fireballs or melee attacks? Apparently quite a few, as everyone uses the same stockpile of round-ending maneuvers.
Along those same lines, Legend of the Dragon is entirely basic in its world design, as each arena and mode plays nearly identically. When going from area to area the only major change includes a few destructible in-level items and varying backdrop. As expected there's a dojo level, outside rain area, lava backdrop, and temple. Basically any generic backdrop imaginable makes an appearance, and the locales do nothing to change up the experience. Also included in the game are multiple single and multiplayer modes, including the classic quickplay, time trial, and survival bouts. If you've got the players and remotes, classic vs. mode is included, as is a team battle and two-on-two tag battle for four players. The added effort to include multiplayer is appreciated, but the game's overall depth is so shallow the game will grow tiresome after only a few rounds, making this a tough one to suggest even for a last-minute rental. As the more "in-depth" portion of the game, players can embark on Quest Mode, which includes situational battles and an extremely basic overworld map to slide your character across to get from area to area. Much like the rest of the game, however, the quest is littler more than a few shallow battles between lackluster combatants.
The final nail in the coffin comes with the overall audio/visual portion of the game, as Legend of the Dragon looks and sounds just as generic as it plays. The game's menu system is about as simple as it gets, with the different options hovering in the middle of the screen atop and two-tone scrolling backdrop of light and symbols. The menus do include IR support though, which is a nice addition. There's a small amount of character portrait art sprinkled throughout the game, whether it's in prepping for a battle or waiting at brief load screens, but it really comes down to a few pieces of art topping an otherwise boring backdrop. Once in the game, everything has a low-res cel-shaded look that lacks any sort of polish, and with the game running in 4:3 only (with 480p though), it looks on par with a first generation GameCube game, or slightly lower. What little graphical effects that are there come almost exclusively during super attacks, with the rest of the battle looking nearly unfinished in its visual offerings. The music, sound effects, and character VO is also extremely one-dimensional, with each character having only a few grunts and shouts to accompany the expected thump-n-bump audio of a budget fighter. Nothing amazing to see here.
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