In this episode of Retro Wednesdays we took a quick look at the Legend of Kage
For whatever reason I really like this game. Maybe it’s because I remember renting this game almost every other week (along with Pirates) from the local mom and pop video store. Renting a game was kind of a big deal for me growing up because it was something of a weekend tradition. My parents were never 100% psyched about the idea of me being a huge video gamer so they tended to keep game purchases limited to birthday and holidays, and even then it was 1 to 2. This isn’t a negative thing because in the long run it taught me to value the games I own more, and it also became a fun weekend event to rent a game.
My video store had two day rentals so I tried to get there early to maximize my playing time. I still remember how the store always smelled like musty popcorn and that “butter” smell. They gave out tubs of popcorn with more than one purchase so they had it on standby all the time. The video game section was just to the right of the door with each game in a clear lucite case. Some even game with manuals but most of them didn’t. The owner explained to me they usually got lost so he gave up storing them together. The store had a decent selection of games and since this was pre-internet times it was a little like gambling. Would my weekend be a good one with a new fun game, or a boring drab crap-fest with some garbage game I hate. For a whopping $4 it was always worth it to find out.
Legend of Kage was a game that was in a heavy rental rotation for me. I seriously don’t know what I like about it. The game is pretty basic and nondescript. Without some learning and experience it can be confusing and frustrating to play since some of it makes no sense. You play as Kage (I guess) who has had his woman kidnapped by some random Wizard that may or may not be Raiden from Mortal Kombat. You have to complete 4 stages to rescue her. Some stages you need to kill a certain number of enemies to finish it, others it’s just a run to a specific point, and the most confusing ones are when you have to kill a specific wizard (apparently Japan was chock full of wizards). You have throwing stars and a sword and you can jump like you’re on the moon. You can get upgrades that make you stronger and shoot larger stars but to be honest as soon as you get one it’s hard to hold onto it.
Legend of Kate’s music is haunting and repetitive, and the graphics are pretty interesting. This is an arcade port but it’s one that’s done pretty well. My only complaint is to beat the game level it is a bit cryptic and confusing. So after you beat the last level and rescue your girl you go back to the first level. There are wizards you can’t kill and some random butterflies floating around. You have to kill the butterfly first, let it hit the ground then you can kill the boss. You have to do this 4 times (one for each season) to really beat the game. As much as I like Legend of Kage I haven’t really had the motivation to beat it over and over, especially considering the major frustration point of this game is the cheapness.
You can die from one hit unless you’re powered up and enemies come flying from everywhere. You can get hit by people throwing stars off screen or a random enemy will just jump onto you and you have no time to react. You can duck but I swear it only dodges enemies 2-3% of the time and more often than not you will die. If you die the game resets and you start all over. The worst stage for this is the third one where you are climbing the outside of a castle. The enemy stars are white and the background is white making it really difficult to see.
In the end the Legend of Kage is another good but not great game in my book. I wonder if part of my affection for the game is based off of my experience and thrill of renting it more than the game itself. That to me is what makes retro gaming such a great passion in my life. It’s not about the games, it’s not even about playing them. It’s more about remembering the excitement and joy that was associated with finding and experiencing games for the first time. The Legend of Kage will always be a favorite of mine no matter what. Every time I’m in a movie theater and smell that stale popcorn smell I instantly want to play it.