Legends is a cutesy action adventure game developed for the Amiga by Yorkshire-based Krisalis Software and first published in 1996 by Guildhall Leisure Services. It takes many of its cues from Nintendo‘s early Zelda games, but unfortunately doesn’t come close to the greatness of those games.
The storyline in Legends is downright silly. Aliens who live on the moon created the human race for their own entertainment, but when the humans almost destroyed themselves in the late 20th century, and subsequently sued for peace, the aliens travel back in time using time portals to give ancient civilisations advanced weaponry, so that humans might entertain them some more by continuing to destroy themselves… A human professor and his assistant Billy discover these portals and go back in time to try to save the planet. The professor has a “soul transfer beam” that allows Billy to take over the bodies of natives of the time, so that he can perform tasks to facilitate their quest…
Forgetting the ridiculous storyline, Legends is a Zelda-like action adventure maze game where you explore, shoot and collect things, and try to solve simple puzzles in order to advance your way through the levels. Legends comes on six floppy disks, so does involve some disk-swapping, although the developers have managed to keep it relatively minimal.
The game starts off in a Native American village and you are a boy in search of the Medicine Man. You can enter tepees and collect items inside them (although there’s a short load period when entering). You can talk to friendly characters and some will even point towards your objective. You can also press F1 to access a map of each level.
As you explore you can find and pick up weapons and select between them by pressing the number keys (or access your inventory by pressing space). Once you have the bow and arrows you can then shoot flowers that block your way, and of course you can also shoot wasps, birds, boars and other animals that move around the maze and can hurt you if they touch you. Hostile natives will also shoot arrows at you, but you can shoot them back if you’re quick enough. Some natives will also run at you with tomahawks in both hands and chase you relentlessly, which can be disconcerting.
A heart meter in the top right of the screen indicates your life energy and when it reaches zero you die, and you only get one life, but you do get one continue. Which is a bit tight if you ask me. Every hostile human that you kill will usually drop a heart that you can collect to replenish (a tiny bit of) your heart meter.
Enemies constantly re-spawn, and while this does help generate hearts for healing it does get tiresome fairly quickly. I think the developers got the re-spawn rates wrong in this game, and they also got the damage versus healing rates wrong too. You lose far more health from a collision with an enemy than you gain from picking up hearts, so avoiding damage is a constant war of attrition and the game doesn’t give you enough breathing space to actually explore in peace for a while. Thankfully the game does give you level passwords so you don’t have to re-play earlier stages that you’ve already completed, and the later levels are better than the first level, which I thought was too difficult for an opening level.
The music in Legends I think is horrible. It’s the kind of dire Euro pop muzak that was so prevalent in video games in the ’90s, and it does absolutely nothing for me – other than get on my wick very quickly. The graphics are cute and colourful and the scrolling is smooth, but overall I think that the presentation is a little bit amateurish in places.
The gameplay in Legends is okay although it does feel like a low-grade Zelda rip off, and while the game does have some nice touches (like weather effects, squashing worms when you walk over them, boss battles, and bonus minigames that allow you to earn more continues) it isn’t really worthy of too much praise. I think Legends is a bit too cheesy to be truly called a classic, although it’s a reasonably entertaining game and might keep you occupied for a few hours if you like obscure, cartoony, cute, exploration shooting games. Personally, I found Legends too frustrating, and the music got on my nerves quickly, for it to be truly enjoyable. I wanted to like this game, but it kept pushing me away with annoyances. It’s definitely not a patch on any Zelda game I’ve ever played, and I’ve played most of them. Play A Link to the Past or The Minish Cap, then compare it to this. There’s no comparison.
More: Legends on Moby Games