by Chris Scott
reviewed on WII
No one can question the devotion that developer High Voltage Studios shows to the Nintendo Wii. That devotion has not necessarily translated into solid sales yet and the studio’s efforts have been met with middling figures for their efforts. High Voltage Studios looks to turn that around by falling back on one of gaming’s genre staples: the fighting game. Their latest effort, Tournament of Legends, looks to bring adrenaline fueled button mashing to the millions of Wii owners.
Set in the world of Graeco-Roman mythology, Jupiter and the rest of the Roman pantheon of gods have disappeared save for Thanatos, the god of death, who is left to deal with those that seek to end his reign. The mythology is quite liberally interpreted and individuals from other religious pantheons, including Egyptian, Norse and Japanese make appearances in this game. It all makes for a rather sporadic narrative but the majority of gamers playing fighting games are not playing them for their awkward attempts at storytelling anyway. What gamers are playing fighting games for though is fluid and intuitive combat. And it is here that the falter begins.
Tournament of Legends can be closely compared to the likes of the Soul Caliber series. While on a surface level it may seem that High Voltage has created something with quite a bit of depth it won’t take long to realize that this game is as simplistic a fighting game as has ever been made.
There are two ways to play this game; with a combination of the Wii remote and nunchuck or using the classic controller. Controlling via the Wii remote and nunchuck is as simple as moving left to right with either hand for slashing attacks correlating to the respective hands and a chopping attack linked to a chopping motion with the Wii remote. Pressing specific button allows the player to use powered attacks, special magic attacks, block, and dodge amongst a variety of other non-essential actions. Due to the system not always registering your movements the way you intended the control scheme can be quite frustrating but it also offers the most challenging and ultimately satisfying control experience in the game.
While it may seem odd to praise a scheme that is inherently flawed for a fighting game it is far more fun to wail away at thin air then it is to fight the AI with the classic controller. Playing through the single player story mode with a traditional controller is like pressing the win button. The AI seems to have been programmed with the failings of the Wii remote in mind and when playing with a responsive control scheme the AI just can’t seem to catch up with the player especially considering the combat in the game is basically just done with four simple button presses. If you are looking for a game featuring expansive move lists and a hefty challenge Tournament of Legends is not the game for you.
The control issues are not an issue if playing with some one else but that in itself poses its own problems. While most other games, including those on the Wii, have progressed to include online play, Tournament of Legends is noticeably missing it. When compared to other fighting games, it is tragically bare bones. Even at the budget price that publisher SEGA is presenting it at the game feels empty with just its story mode that only has ten total characters (two of which need to be unlocked), offline multiplayer and training arena. The offerings the game gives are shallower than some early Playstation 2 fighting titles and in a day and age where gamers have so much choice it just doesn’t present itself as one a gamer should choose.
Pro and cons
Matters are not helped along by the mediocre graphics, terrible voice acting or a cheap final boss. The game features some of awful texturing and the animation is often clumsy looking. The voice acting is some of the most cheesy I have heard in a game in years. And the final boss borders on unfair, which seems to be a trend in recent fighting games.
It is easy to be down on everything in Tournament of Legends because so much of it is so mediocre (or outright poorly done) but the game does have a few positives including an interesting dynamic character system of magic and weapons. Before each match players are tasked with equipping their fighters with a weapon and a special ability. The weapons vary in speed and can offer some sort of tactical approach to the title but the real fun is with the enchantment and magic system. Players can equip orbs that are unlocked by defeating other characters, and these grant special abilities to the player. It doesn’t play a super important role in the game, although it is obvious it was intended to, but it can offer some variety to the combat.
It is a shame that this game came out the way it did because while there are some solid fighting titles on the Wii it seems like the genre could use a new top dog right about now. Overall though the game is kind of a mess and gamers would be better suited to get themselves a copy of another fighting game on the Wii or possibly try and land their hands on Soul Caliber II for the GameCube as it is a far better title even seven years after release than Tournament of Legends is now.
Some fun might be squeezed out of the title by playing with a friend.
The game is a mess from top to bottom.