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Kengo: Legend of the 9 (Xbox 360) artwork

Kengo: Legend of the 9 (Xbox 360) review


"For some time now, I've seen the words "realism" and "realistic" when players describe Kengo: Legend of the 9. I immediately think of the two Bushido Blade titles released for the original PlayStation whenever this happens. In those games, there's no life bars or stats of any kind, just two people on screen with swords. Any attack, any swing from either character could be the last. Matches would sometimes end seconds or drag on for minutes due to its realistic rules. While they weren't th..."



For some time now, I've seen the words "realism" and "realistic" when players describe Kengo: Legend of the 9. I immediately think of the two Bushido Blade titles released for the original PlayStation whenever this happens. In those games, there's no life bars or stats of any kind, just two people on screen with swords. Any attack, any swing from either character could be the last. Matches would sometimes end seconds or drag on for minutes due to its realistic rules. While they weren't the best fighting games ever, the realism gave the short-lived series a charm other fighters didn't share. I wasn't expecting Legend of the 9 to play exactly like those titles, but I thought it would be a similar experience. Imagine my slight disappointment when I found it had more in common with a hack 'n slash game: everyone has a life bar, you're constantly surrounded by red shirts, you face a boss with a bigger life bar, and you have stats that can be upgraded at the end of each stage. Realism my ass.

I think gamers are just somehow confusing Legend of the 9's various flaws and issues with "realistic" gameplay, because that's what I was always dealing with. Everything seems fine at first: After getting past the title screen and picking a difficulty, you'll have the option of choosing one of three characters currently available. Likely, you'll be going with the rugged, inexperienced samurai, Musashi, since he looks the coolest of the three. Plus, he fights with two swords. After a skippable monologue, you find yourself in a forest, where ronin decide they want to pick a fight with your character. Finally, you have the opportunity to play the game... and that's where things go sour.

When playing your first stage of the game, one annoying aspect makes its presence known right away, which is the control setup. Imagine your hands cramping up as I mention the following buttons that need to pressed and held during a typical fight: always hold and release RT to lock on, block and move with the A button and left analog stick, readjust the camera every two seconds with the right analog stick, and attack, while still pressing the other buttons, with either Y or B. For such a simple game that involves slashing people and their look-a-likes, it puts a lot of strain on your hands. The Bushido Blade games had a complicated setup as well, but you still managed to play fine and with your hands uncrippled. Once you get used to the uncomfortable nature of the setup, though, the lock on feature will be the next in line to infuriate you. The problem is that it will lock on to an enemy it assumes you want to fight. This becomes an annoyance when you want to lock on to someone in front of you, but your character will instead turn around to someone you didn't know exist. It's also irritating trying to lock on to, say, a strong opponent that you want to get out of the way first. However, you'll have trouble doing this, since every person you're fighting is standing together as a group. So the only choice left is to rush in and hope that you don't get badly injured.

Out of all the problems in Legend of the 9, the camera, undeniably, is the biggest frustration. Like many 3D titles, Legend of the 9, unfortunately, has a camera that enjoys being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though, whereas other titles only mildly bother you with their cameras, this game's camera will constantly move around, even when you're not doing anything! I've been in plenty of situations against a boss where I had low health and had to be extremely careful. I would just stand in place, letting the boss make his or her approach. Sadly, in these moments, the camera also thought it would be a great idea to start moving, screwing up the movement directions for my character in the process. You can guess the rest: I quickly try to readjust the camera back to my preferred angle, then watch in horror as the boss strikes, killing me, and then being forced to load and restart the entire stage...

Now, even if all these flaws were fixed before its release, Kengo: Legend of the 9 would still just be an average game. The fact that you have to do the same thing with every character (fight red shirts and a boss, times 90) makes for a very repetitive and tiring experience. There is a neat counter system that takes time to get a feel for, but it's not enough to save the stale gameplay. Also, enemies can be very cheap at times, having much quicker reaction times than your character. Even when your stats are beefed up, they still manage to out pace you. With all these flaws and unrealistic elements, I'm having a hard time understanding why some would call this realistic and enjoyable.

Rating: 4/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (December 31, 2009)

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EmP posted August 17, 2010:

I was looking at tbis in a bargin bin today and this little voice in the back of my head said "Pickhut thought this game was shit -- don't bother."

Turns out you did. And, in doing so, might have saved me £5. That's almost $57!
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pickhut posted August 17, 2010:

My review saved a life!

Erm... I mean, thanks for taking into consideration my review when you thought about buying the game XD. Funny thing is, I bought it new for $10, and I still felt ripped off.

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