Good, old Atari games really never seem to die. Slapping Gauntlet Legends into my Dreamcast, teleported me back to when I was 7 years old and hitting the local arcade to pump some of my hard earned money into Gauntlet, the 4 four-player madness, the extreme difficulty and mind-numbing entertainment. Thatís what it was all about! With 100 levels of game play in your quest to destroy the evil Wizard Morak - it seemed like you would never make it to the end. In the arcades is where I became a loyal follower of the series from it roots. After a few years, Gauntlet II arrived at the arcades, trying to rival its predecesor for the title of greatness, it failed with its seemingly never-ending levels (300+), impossible difficulty and uninspired new enemies. With a tear in my eye I returned home unsatisfied and thirsting for more medieval ass-kicking. Luckily, my craving didnít go unanswered thanks to Tengen who brought ports of Gauntlet I and II to my NES, and a few year later, they brought a Gauntlet IV with four-player support onto Genesis. But the arcade classic seemed to have died away until Midway and Atari released Gauntlet Legend upon the public in 1998. The coins flowed into the beast with 4 characters (each with a hidden alter-ego) and three hidden characters, and four player action, nineteen levels, six bosses and the ability to save your characters!
Midway released its new arcade game to the massive console market in 1999 by bringing it to the N64. The game faired well on the system, keeping four-player support and speed, but losing ground in the department of graphics and difficulty. In early 2000 the 32-bit Playstation version was released with massive changes from the arcade: only 2-player support, uninspired graphics and replacing and boss character with extremely easy counterparts (Genie was replaced by a Slime boss).
Overall, the game was 10 times easier than the arcade. The public has been craving an arcade-perfect port to this game and now your prayers have been answered by Midway with the release of the Dreamcas tport of Gauntlet Legends.
First off, call a friend or two over to your home (if you have any), flip your copy of GL into your DC and push the power button down. After the game detects if you have room on your memory card, youíll be sent to a main menu that has a few options... screw the options and hit "start game"! You and your buddy are now faced with picking a warrior on your eternal quest to destroy the evil Skorne. Who do you pick? Archer with her great speed; Valkyrie, the all-around good girl; Warrior, strong but ever so slow; or the Wizard with his powerful magic. Hold on! Unlike the arcade version of GL you get an additional four characters (they are from Gauntlet: Dark Legacy now in arcades), giving you a grand total of eight (if you canít count): Knight, a heavy armor moífo; Sorceress, with magic and speed; Jester, the fastest thing on 2 legs; and the Dwarf, extra strong and extra slow. Once you finally select your warrior you must enter in a name to be able to save your adventures. You start out in the Tower where you will find Sumner who tells you a tale of how his brother Garm released the all-mighty deomon Skorne with 12 rune stones. Once free, Skorne scattered all 12 rune stones across five lands and placed a guardian in each realm to protect them. You must now go collect these runes to banish to evil demon Skorne back to the depths of Hades.
To destroy Skorne and the other monsters, you're going to need to improve your character by gaining experience by killing monsters. Every time you improve a level, your character, speed, magic, strength and armor improve. You will need to collect goal to buy permanent and/or temporary power-ups after completing a stage and returning to the tower. You will have to fight hoards of monsters that come out of generators. To stop the hoards, you must destroy the source of the problem. You can also replay the levels to improve your status and get more gold. In each realm you will also have to find oblisks and runes. Each Realm has four runes, three hidden within the level and one that you must slay the boss to obtain. The oblisk must be activated to get to the next realm to continue the quest. The runes and oblisks are hidden behind fake walls or activated by switches. At times it can become boring...like playing hide-and-seek where no one is seeking you. Just shoot everything and ask questions later.
Graphically, the game seems to hold strong to the arcade roots; near perfect. The frame rate runs so clean and never jumps. Bright colors flow over the landscapes of the game creating a fun and enjoyable environment to slay some ugly monster ass; an ultra-arcade conversion for all gamers to enjoy. Sound: I really didnít listen to the soundtrack too much. I would just hear the mighty announcer blurt out, "Yellow Wizardís life is low" every now and again. Itís just like the arcade game where you're way too into the game to care about any obnoxious announcements.
Game play is great; simple three-button shoot, magic and turbo. Youíll notice a little colorful bar above your life. This is your turbo bar. If you hold down the turbo and move youíll run all over the place until it runs out (just like Blitz), but if you tap turbo and shoot at the same time you will pull off a super attack. This varies depending on how full the bar is at the time, and will also instantly drain the bar. The controls are good, very easy and quick to get the hang of. As for your life, unlike the arcade, the home version doesnít drain your life second by second. Instead, if you die you lose all the items you had, a little bit of experience/level and are sent back to the tower to try again. This makes the game a little easier, but it is
better than having to hit start ever five minutes to bring your self back to life. The game is full of traps and switches that you must avoid or activate to stay alive. Huge Golems tend to pop up to question your power and you must show them who is master. But the best part about the game play is four-player madness. Itís not a bad single-player game but I wouldn't recommend it for such. Itís a party game that you can play for a half hour or an hour and feel good. Hell, you'll feel like you're the grand lord of death slaying millions of monsters and send them back to their master Skorne in little baggies. If you have a friend or maybe two who will lug over to your house every now and again, get this game tonight for a feast of flesh!!
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