During the prime days of the N64, the console saw many original fighting games to try and capitalize on the newer 3D aspect of fighting. Games like Mace: The Dark Age, Bio F.R.E.A.K.S, Dark Rift, War Gods, Flying Dragon, and Fighter’s Destiny were all forgettable fighters thanks to dismal character design with flawed combat systems. Tournament of Legends is a dreadful throwback to these two generation old fighters.
Tournament of Legends is developed by High Voltage Software, known for developing the Conduit on Wii and for the Hunter series of last generation. This game was originally developed as a gory gladiator arena fighter, but somehow shifted focus to all sorts of ancient mythology by including minotaurs, a chick with a cat head, and medusa-like fighters (and some dude in a wheelchair…no joke). But the game’s overall theme is not the problem; the gameplay is.
The character roster, although large considering it is a new IP, is weak in comparison to recent fighters like SFIV or any MK and lacks personality. Each character is forgettable thanks to generic and stereotypical character design, and will even start to annoy your nerves with repetitive voice quips.
This Wii fighter does not control like anything you are used to. Instead of mashing buttons on a controller or arcade pad, the player must waggle the Wii remote to generate attacks. Both the Wii remote and nunchuk will be used to attack in different directions. Undoubtedly this takes advantage of the Wii’s unique hardware, but ultimately suffers from slow and unresponsive animations. The game never really explains the combat very well either. The only sort of tutorial is a simple non-interactive video that the player watches.
However, the game was probably built as a slower paced fighter to begin with. Instead charging head first into battle like Marvel Vs Capcom or even Killer Instinct, Tournament of Legends is more of defensive fighter than an offensive one. Most attacks can be predetermined thanks to the slower animations and the time it takes to actually swing the Wii remote. Because most opponent attacks can be read preemptively, combat is much more based around space and timing. In way, it is almost like a game of chess: who is going to capitalize on the first mistake.
This slower paced fighting is very reminiscent of those forgotten N64 fighters. But this also throws off the balancing. You basically have to wait for your opponent to attack, then block that attack, then throw an attack of your own. While this parry-attack system is kind of a standard for all fighting games, it really stands out in Tournament of Legends. But the balance is slightly thrown off because of “unblockable” attacks, which can really stand out in a battle between two human fighters who have spent some time with the game. The opponent AI can’t also throw in some cheap attacks from time to time as well.
Trying to keep things entertaining, the player is constantly rewarded with goodies after each fight, whether it is a new weapon or new element to install on your weapon. It provides incentive to play through the campaign with each character, and the game also gives the player the opportunity to swap out weapons before each match. But some elements are basically the same, like poison and burn slowly take away addition health just with a different graphical effect.
Don’t really expect any cool options as fights are your usual one-vs-one battles. What is unique, however, are the mini games that occur between rounds. Interrupted like the cutscenes between rounds of Punch-Out, the player can swing the Wii remote and nunchuk to be rewarded with health bonuses. But these mini games are more frustrating than anything because of the unresponsive controls. Luckily, the game can also be played with a classic controller, but it still does not fix the problem of slow defensive combat. And were these mini games even necessary? I would have much rather just continued to fight all the way through until my opponent, or myself, has fallen. Unless you are going for the realistic approach with a boxing or UFC game, there really is no point in breaking up the action.
And speaking of bad mini games that break up the action, another one of Tournament of Legends gimmicks are the giant creatures that loom in the background. On occasion, a colossus for example, will feel the need to walk right through your battle. Instead of simply dodging this freak incident, the player is taken out of the fight to fend off the incoming beast via scripted events. This is one of those ideas that sound cool on paper, but did not implement well. Like the mini games between rounds, this is awkward and an unnecessary part of the game.
The game also has some pretty terrible graphics, even for a Wii game. Low resolution textures and a lower frame rate really set this game back to make it look like an N64 fighter. The damage system, which flakes off armor when a proper attack lands in the sweet spot, is just another weak gimmick is not really fleshed out either. Everyone knows that the Wii is not an HD system, but when classic games, like the original Soul Calibur on Dreamcast or even early Tekkens, outshine a current gen game, it could be time to reevaluate the product. But to be fair, this game retails for a budget price of $30.
To put it as simply as possible, this is one terrible fighting game. The gimmicky and unresponsive motion controls, poor graphical quality, flawed fighting system and lame character design really make this game feel dated and broken. As bad as this game is, it does deserve some props for being original and trying to create a new IP. It is just too bad the final product isn’t very good.
Not As Good As: Killer Instinct Gold
Also Try: PSOne’s Tobal
Wait For It: the Conduit 2
Follow MyGamer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mygamernews