Gauntlet: Dark Legacy
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy has already been seen on the [PS2] and the GameCube, so an Xbox version shouldn't be very surprising. An arcade title, ported straight from the arcade machine of the same name, this game won celebrity as an update to the original Gauntlet, an arcade classic from years ago. Unchanged in concept, the console version of features new levels, a few new gameplay styles, and with the four controller ports on the Xbox, the same multiplayer fun offered by the arcade machine.
Set in a land besieged by evil, the ancient demon has been loosed by the foolish actions of a young wizard, Garm. Freed from his prison in the underworld, Skorne has attacked all the lands of the realm, and scattered the runestones, the only weapons able to send him back to the hellish pit from whence he came. Battle through each realm, and defeat it's guardian, and you'll find the keys to open Skorne's fortress, and do battle with this ancient evil. Collect crystals along the way to unlock new areas, and you and three of your friends can defeat a menace for the ages.
Gauntlet uses a third-person, almost birds eye view for gameplay. You control a character, created at the beginning of the game, from one of eight different character types, with more to choose from as you complete secret levels within the game. Each character has a set of statistics that determine how effective a combatant they are, and each character grows with the experience of fighting Skorne's evil. All in all, the graphics aren't that hot, being the same as on the PS2, and Gamecube, and the gameplay doesn't differ at all from the Gamecube version. Still, Dark Legacy deserves credit for being a perfectly faithful translation of the Arcade version, still packing the same enjoyment.
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Ah, Gauntlet. Many gamers can remember that ancient game of yesteryear, a fun little top down dungeon game that you could play with up to three of your best friends. Enemies were plentiful, treasure was grand, and shooting food was a quick way to get your character killed. However, that game was made in the ancient days when arcade games were generally far superior to anything home PC's or console systems had to offer.
Now, the tables have turned. At least' nearly.
These days, most of the newest systems measure their lifespan in months instead of years, have graphics that rival that of an arcade machine, and offer rich and detailed game experiences that can be played in the comfort of your own home. Gauntlet is no exception.
As a young hero of one of the many realms in the Gauntlet universe, you've been called upon by the wizard Sumner to save your land, and countless others. The demon Skorne, previously bound in the underworld, has been released by the actions of the foolish Garm, a former student of Sumner. Wielding massive power, Skorne scattered the thirteen runestones, ancient artifacts that kept the demon imprisoned. Biding his time in a well-defended fortress, Skorne has sown chaos and discord through all the realms, leaving behind powerful monsters to control each land in his stead.
Only by defeating Skorne's warriors can you have any hope of breaching the walls of Skorne's prison, and only with the thirteen runestones can you banish him back to the Underworld where he belongs. Aiding you on this quest are the mighty Warrior, trusted Wizard, fierce Valkyrie, and even more characters, waiting to wage battle. Special crystals and other items unlock the path to each realm, and in each realm await one of Skorne's warriors, guarding a key to the fortress. Taking advantage of the four controller ports on the Gamecube, Dark Legacy lets you play along with three friends, a definite must for party games like this one.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
You've got a character with four stats, Magic, Armor, Speed, and Strength, all of which go into determining how well you kick ass. Every character has a different spread of stats, and among the eight starting characters, there's a lot of variety. Later on, you'll be able to unlock secret characters by participating in bonus levels, each of which has better statistics than the normal character that you can play. For example, the Jackal is a more powerful version of the Wizard, having higher initial stats.
Each character only has a few different actions they can perform, but hey, what did you want? This is an arcade game after all. The light attack is quick, but lacks power, while the heavy attack is slow, but very powerful. The turbo attack lets you charge up a certain amount of energy, and then release it, either as a rather powerful strike that hits a wide range of opponents, or the max charge that destroys almost everything on the screen. All of the characters can attack at range, although some are obviously better than others, and in hand to hand, a combination of the light and heavy attacks can unleash a wicked combo great for destroying hordes of enemies.
Magic potions are indispensable tools that can explode, damaging enemies around your character, create a magical barrier that also damages enemies, or also serve as an improvised grenade. Not to mention, for those times when Death comes a knockin' (as an eight foot tall bad guy that is), tossing a magic potion in his face is the only way to get rid of him. If that isn't enough, you control your character with the analog stick, and can occasionally burst into song' I mean a run, smacking through enemies left and right.
Items are another interesting part of the game. Three-way shot, power shot, growth, invisibility, anti-death field are all special items you can pick up (or purchase in between levels at the handy store) to boost your combat ability. As you cut a swath through the opposition, you'll collect gold to purchase these items with, as well as experience to raise your level, boosting your statistics.
Each level is a combination of mantraps, unusual geometry, and monsters. Lots and lots of monsters. Gauntlet: Dark Legacy stays in keeping with the Gauntlet tradition and gives you lots of monster generators, each spewing out the little annoyances at a steady rate. Generals and Lieutenants are tougher monsters that require lots of hits, but only show up rarely, often bearing great treasure or keys to unlock later levels if you defeat them. Each of the levels is themed to its realm, and each realm contains five different levels. With areas like the air realms, with floating platforms and lots of poison, or the castle stages, every part of the game has a unique look, with a unifying theme of massive, bloody combat.
If you manage to make it to the end of the levels, the Realm guardian will await your challenge. Significantly difficult to beat monsters, the guardians are the beings protecting the keys to Skorne's fortress. Defeat them all, and you'll be able to face Skorne himself. Don't worry about how strong they are, as you can find special items throughout the game that'll let you take them down a notch, making them much easier to beat. Once you've collected all the items, crystals, icons, and keys (not to mention the runestones that are hidden in various stages), you'll be able to get near the end of the game and open up the last few secret levels.
While not particularly difficult, Gauntlet deserves special mention for the sheer amount of time it takes to go through the game, as a significant part of it requires playing a few levels over and over again, just for the experience. It can be tedious, but when you're playing with friends, it can be a rewarding few hours of gameplay.
The graphics in Gauntlet are flashy, but not what I'd call particularly impressive. As a cute little arcade number, it does well with the bright colors and overall lack of shadows and lighting effects, and manages to give you something nice to look at in each level. If anything, its greatest flaw is that, much like the PS2 version, the camera is occasionally constricting, and can be a hassle to maneuver.
Listening to that Gauntlet narrator is just too cool. Other than that, don't worry about the sound. Play a CD, listen to someone cook, whatever'just don't rely on the auditory part of this game. It isn't really there, but it isn't really important.
Gauntlet not only supports play with four people, but encourages it. The more people the better. There aren't really any special concerns, as the game is the same for four people as it is with one.
Comparison to Previous Versions
Much like its predecessor, the Playstation 2 version, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is a significant improvement over the arcade version of this game. With improved graphics and significantly longer gameplay, it's a good choice for a four-person Gamecube party' at least if you haven't already gotten Super Smash Bros. Melee. Improving on the PS2 version, it adds new items like the Health Amulet, which absorbs damage and turns it into health, the Mikey, an illusionary decoy, and the Hand of Death, which lets you suck health from enemies just like Death does to you. Also, this version lets you maintain your inventory of items, giving you the ability to turn off one of your power-ups, and let you conserve their power. Strangely though, I thought the graphics were a fair sight poorer than those on the PS2, especially in the FMV cutscenes preceding some of the stages. While this might be due to a problem porting the game to the NGC, I can't be sure, but it doesn't look quite as nice.
With a few flaws as compared to the PS2 version, I was very happy that this title came out for a system that already had four game ports already so I didn't have to shell out the money for yet another multitap. Completed with almost the same quality, this game exceeds the original arcade version by a mile and then some, and is probably still one of the more enjoyable, if middle road, games that I've played in a while.
Skorne, demon prince of the Underworld, has destroyed the eight realms and sealed himself within his great keep. Safe from the brave wizard Sumner, Skorne waits for the day he can stride forth and conquer the eight lands. Dependant on his warriors to scatter the key to his fortress to the four corners of the Realm and the sacred runestones with them, Skorne is just days away from defeating Sumner and securing his victory.
Summoned from the eight lands, you take the role of a brave hero struggling against the depredations of Skorne. Brought here by the mighty wizard Sumner, it is your quest to travel the eight lands, defeating the great warriors of Skorne, collecting the runestones, and finding the pieces of the key to Skorne's stronghold. Once you collect these pieces, you'll be able to invade Skorne's fortress and banish him back to hell using the power of the runestones.
The latest in a proud tradition of console and arcade games, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is the PS2 game based on the arcade title of the same name. A popular game in the 80's, Gauntlet received a facelift a few years ago, transforming it into a 3D action game. A significant improvement for the series, Gauntlet allows four players to enter a shared environment to kick major ass.
Unlike the original game, you'll need to collect crystals to progress to the new levels, meaning you'll run through a predetermined cycle to the levels, although the game won't force you down a path. This version adds boss monsters and a lot more player triggered puzzles than the arcade version, too.
In many ways what you'd consider a 'Party Game' for the PS2, Gauntlet has neither the sophisticated gameplay nor the depth of story shared by many other PS2 titles. Because of this, Gauntlet must ride on its other strengths, like replayability and multiplayer features. Able to handle up to four people with a PS2 multitap, this game can be a good dose of friendly competition when you've gotten tired of playing another game.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Gauntlet, although fairly modern in terms of graphics, relies on very old gameplay. Essentially unchanged since the days of the original Gauntlet, your objective is to patrol each level of the dungeon, destroying monster after monster. The game has a 3D isometric view that lets you tromp through each dungeon. The controls are simple, with a strong attack, weak attack, charge, and magic buttons, and a special button that lets you build up a charge to launch a powerful attack. Aside from monsters, you'll also need to avoid mantraps that will cut, burn, and otherwise dismember you.
Your first step on that journey is to choose a hero. There are eight different hero types to choose from, each with weaknesses and strengths. The Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie, Knight, Jester, Sorceress, Archer, and Dwarf are the choices you've got, all of which can be taken in four different colors. As you progress through the game, you'll also unlock extra hidden characters and different versions of the normal characters.
You've got four statistics, Magic, Strength, Armor, and Speed, all of which increase as you increase in level and can be bought up with collected gold later. Gold and experience is collected as you kill monsters and open treasure chests, and these items allow you to increase in level as you're playing the game.
Just like the original, special generators located around the level spawn monsters. These generators will create an unlimited amount of monsters until the generator is destroyed, making the destruction of these generators a high priority.
After fighting through many, many, many monsters, you'll find the boss, a large monster that presents an extreme challenge. The Lich, Dragon, and Spider Queen are some of the bosses you'll face, and they're the direct servants of Skorne, protecting the shard pieces that lock Skorne's gate. These monsters are very difficult to beat, but you can find special items throughout the game that are specially designed to defeat the boss.
Finally, your hero is provided a set amount of health, usually starting around 500, which is depleted by battle. You'll lose health at a continuous rate, usually one point every couple of seconds, requiring that you find health items occasionally or face the fact that you'll be using your continues often. The Health items consist of food, in the form of meat or fruit, both of which come in many varieties, and varying restorative properties.
Four players! At once! Bumping into one another and tripping each other up! Yea!
Just like the arcade version, you can play with three of your best friends, but only if you've got a PS2 multitap. Given the design of Gauntlet, it is practically better to play with at least one friend, as the game adjusts the camera angle and width dynamically, based on the number of players and where you are on the level. Most definitely what you'd call a party title, Gauntlet is a good game for a number of players.
The PS2 has an excellent graphics potential that has gone relatively untapped by this game. With a low resolution, and a lack of highly detailed textures, Gauntlet certainly isn't the nicest looking PS2 game ever made. The best thing I can say about it is that Gauntlet is a complete arcade reproduction. From the design of the characters to the fog of exploding poison barrels, it perfectly simulates the large arcade style version of the game.
Simplistic sound effects don't contribute to the overall quality of the game, even though they are at least unobtrusive enough not to get in the way. The most enjoyable part of the game's audio is the deep booming voice that is reminiscent of the original narrator voice from the original Gauntlet.
Although Gauntlet: Dark Legacy isn't what I'd call a truly astounding title, it is a fun party game that can be enjoyed by four people at once. There are a surprising number of additions when compared to the arcade version -- so many, in fact, I couldn't name them all here. With graphics that update the original and show that the PS2 can run an arcade perfect translation, and that same old godlike Gauntlet voice, this title can be fun for a long time.