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Old 07-06-2010, 08:59 AM   #1
Doctor Setebos
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[Wii] Tournament of Legends Review

Title: Tournament of Legends
Platform: Wii
Developer: High Voltage Software
Publisher: Sega
ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $29.99
Editor: Nathaniel 'Doctor Setebos' Payne

What's Hot: great graphics, good play control, budget price

What's Not: cookie-cutter characters, lack of depth, no online
Fans of the Wii should be familiar with High Voltage Software. The developer has been a staunch champion of hardcore gaming on the Wii. From last year's FPS The Conduit, to upcoming mature titles The Grinder and Conduit 2, High Voltage hopes to bring Wii owners unique, hardcore titles that offer experiences normally only found on the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.

Tournament of Legends holds true to that effort. Originally designed to be a fighting game called Gladiator A.D., featuring gladiators doing battle in a Roman arena, the title underwent a somewhat significant change after Sega signed on to be the game's publisher. The title pushed aside the raw, realistic, blood-stained graphics of its gladiatorial precursor, and took on more stylized, yet still impressive, visual display. Instead of a slate of gladiators, the fighter line-up includes just a single gladiator named Marcus, and a slew of mythical and legendary figures ranging from the massive minotaur Bravehoof to the slim Egyptian cat-goddess Bast.

All of the work High Voltage has put into their Wii-exclusive Quantum 3 engine has definitely paid off. The game itself looks great. From the gorgeous character models, lush and interactive battling environments, and beautiful attack effects, Tournament of Legends is a very attractive game. Each character has their own weapon set that is unique and rendered to fit in well with the character's mythos and history, and the style and animations on the weapons are distinct, well-defined, and beautiful. Besides their individual weapons, each character can also earn secondary magic components for their special attacks. These special attacks consist of things like energy drain, poisoning, multiplied damage, or movement slow-down. This gives a player a few options in customizing their character. Pulling off the special attacks during a battle often yield exceptionally gorgeous in-game animation sequences that give a player the satisfying feeling of having landed a particularly devastating attack. As an added bonus, truly massive attacks can result in pieces of armor being forcibly removed from your opponent.

That brings me to my first real complaint about the game. While the characters and weapon effects themselves look interesting and varied, that's where most of the differences lie. When fighting, the characters turn out to be nothing more than carbon-copies of each other. Besides some of the larger characters moving a bit slower than others, they all have essentially the same slate of moves, just performed with different-looking weapons. Adding to the cookie-cutter feeling is the fact that as you progress through the story mode of the game, you can earn and subsequently utilize the various weapons and magic components of your defeated enemies. Which means that essentially each character can behave like any other character within the game's line-up. They are all made up of completely interchangeable parts, and the only preference left for the player is which skin they wish to wear as they play.

The battles themselves are fairly simple experiences. You have regular attacks, and you can hold down a button to employ heavier versions of the same attacks. You have blocking and you have your special attacks. Some battles come down to a simplistic rhythm of attack, block, attack, block, attack, block, and so on, and so forth. You have two rounds in which you must take your opponent down to zero health three times in order to claim victory. In between rounds there is an optional minigame where you can move your Wii remote and nunchuk (or the analog sticks of your Classic Controller) in order to regain lost health and armor points. Then, jump back in to the fray, and deal some more damage.

Yes, it's simple, but that doesn't mean that the fighting is necessarily bad. It actually had me feeling a pang of nostalgia for the absolutely ancient SNES fighting game Weaponlord, which I highly suspect was a likely inspiration for Tournament of Legends. There's is really no finesse to the game, no real sense of strategy or skill. Just hit the other guy more often than he hits you, and try to do it quickly. It feels two-dimensional and shallow, but there is actually a sort of draw to that kind of simplicity. While these days, a fighting game doesn't get recognized unless each character in the roster has at least fifteen extremely complicated attack combinations, the bare-bones fighting style of Tournament of Legends stands out for not following the same path.

Now, as a major proponent of single-player, offline gaming, I will always be the first to say that online multiplayer is not an essential element of any game. With one exception: one-on-one fighting games. Honestly, there is no excuse for cutting online multiplayer from a fighting game, even on the Wii. No one likes playing a fighting game against an AI unless they're just practicing their moves, and that can get old fast. An online component in Tournament of Legends would be nice to see implemented, but of course that would raise the cost and keep it from being a budget title, and would likely also require Nintendo's infamous "friend code" system, so it's easy to see why it was eliminated. I just really wish it had been included. This game probably deserves an online audience.

But when it comes right down to it, nothing about the game feels particularly "legendary". But you can definitely feel that a significant amount of effort was poured into the game. Its budget price may indicate a quickly-coded cash-grab, but nothing within the game suggests that it was hurried, half-assed, or in any way unpolished. While some elements feel weak in design, it is in no way a broken game. You can really feel the quality in the title, despite its shortcomings in the characters and battles. As beautiful and lovingly-crafted as this game is, I just can't shake the feeling that it's a building block to a greater experience somewhere down the line. Still, a game like this on the Wii at a budget price -- it's not something Wii owners should quickly dismiss.

Score: 3.5 out of 5 CoGs

Nathaniel says, "No real depth and a lack of variety keep this game from being a stellar title, but a great-looking button-masher of a fighting game at a budget price can't really be ignored on the Wii. There is definitely fun to be had here. You just might have to be willing to dig a bit to get to it."
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Old 07-06-2010, 10:42 AM   #2
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I've been playing this for a few evenings now and have really fallen in love with it. I like the fact that every player uses the same controls but has different effects, much like Power Stone or Smash Bros.

I also like the slower balance between attacking, blocking, and dodging. There is a really nice rhythm to the combat that emerges. People who you think are unbeatable require you to refine your fighting style.

I also get a workout for my arms.
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Last edited by JayVe; 07-06-2010 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:54 AM   #3
Doctor Setebos
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Originally Posted by JayVe View Post
I also get a workout for my arms.
That's why I play with the classic controller.
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