Games evolve. That may be a curious way to open a review, but just think about it. Over the years we?ve moved on from 2D to 3D, for example. Whole genres have developed from simple roots into huge franchises as the years (and consoles) have passed by. It?s not just the big picture though, because many games begin as one thing and end up as another.
Plans change, focus groups throw their opinions into the ring, ideas are attempted by fall apart. It?s almost like Darwin was right. There?s a survival of the fittest thing going on, where only the best and brightest will survive.
OK. Got all that in mind? Brilliant. Let?s talk about Tournament of Legends
on the Wii.
A few years ago, word came out about a game called Gladiator AD
. An interesting take on the fighting genre, it was to take a more technical stance when it came to smashing seven bells out of your opponent, set during the glorious days of the Roman Empire. A range of gladiators could be customised, trained and set upon each other, taking the one-on-one fighter out of fantasy (where it?s normally found, be honest) and into historical reality.
For some reason, probably those focus groups mentioned at the start, the game was quietly dropped a couple of years ago. There probably wasn?t enough of a market for such a technical game, and Darwinism was doing its thing again. Unfortunately for High Voltage, the game?s developer, it seems like no-one checked that it was properly dead. Gladiator AD
mutated and survived, dragging its hideous body on to the shore, wheezing and coughing away as everybody points in horror, screams and runs away.
She's lost control
Tournament of Legends
should have been shot the moment it struggled out of the water. Everything about it is anachronistic, a terrible mix of ideas that feel like they were thrown together in a matter of weeks. I don?t normally go for the jugular when it comes to games, but this one has so little in the way of redeeming features I think it deserves a kicking.
The important stuff first: Controls. Fighting games, of course, live and die by their control systems. It?s easy enough to play any fighting game by mashing the buttons, slowly plodding your way through your adversaries, but it?s no bloody fun.
The enjoyment in this type of game comes from honing your skills, by working out the combos of button presses that unleash the maximum amount of pain on your foe. It?s about the timing, hitting those moves at the exact moment, the complete and total control you have over your on-screen avatar. That perfect combination of your controller and your hand.
It?s just a pity that the developers completely ignored this concept because Tournament of Legends
is one of the clunkiest games I?ve ever had the misfortune to put into my Wii. The controls are slow, unresponsive and at times downright infuriating, with you slashing away using your nunchuck and Wiimote several times before your onscreen character then performs the same move three times in a row. The range of moves for each character is incredibly limited, but even then you?ll end up just tiredly repeating attacks again and again no matter what gestures you perform.
You?ll get some hits in eventually, either through luck or judgement, and this will fill up a bar in the corner of the screen. Depending on which character you chose at the start of the game, you trigger this meter by pushing the (A) button and a direction on your nunchuck, unleashing a mostly unimpressive range of magic attacks which will (nine times out of ten) cause a fair bit of damage. So far, so generic.
On the subject of generic, a quick mention about the characters you get to choose from. Remember that this was originally based on a game all about gladiators? Forget that. Now you get to select from a bunch of gods, goddesses and random oddbods from world mythology instead. Although there is one gladiator in there, he?s really fucking annoying and smug though, so you?ll use him once and skip over him forever after.