Review by CKeppler
"It's not pretty, but it's pretty good..."
First off I think that it's important to mention that PSX Gauntlet Legends (or GL) is not a direct port from the arcade, and some features/graphics are changed/lost... as such I will review the game with more of a slant towards it being a PSX game even though I will compare it to the other versions occasionally.
Gauntlet Legends is a 1P (or 2P simultaneous) romp through 6 different worlds in search of obelisks (that contain the power to open new worlds to explore), window pieces (that, once assembled, allow you to reach the big baddie for the first time), and runestones (used to access the big baddie on his home turf so you can toast him for the last time).
Gameplay in GL consists of running around, throwing projecties at things, beating them with your fists/weapons, and accessing the aforementioned items all while trying to find that next switch that seems to be hiding from you with a will of it's own. There is not much to consider as far as controls go because there are only 3 true buttons (attack, turbo, and magic) which perform different actions depending on the combinations they are pressed in (attack + turbo = super attack, turbo + magic = magic shield, etc.). The rest of the buttons are used in the manipulation of your inventory/status screen which work fine but just don't seem to feel right to me... prob. just a button assignment I'm not used to. All of the buttons are responsive, but I don't really like the fact that a hand-to-hand attack is done by bumping into something without a button being pressed as this leads to the smaller enemies (spiders, scorpions, etc.) gnawing at your feet while you send projectiles flying over their heads when you really mean to hit them. Because of this limitation in gameplay a group of sword wielding skeletons can be much less dangerous than a group of litte rats if you are not careful... dumb? I think so.
Unlike the arcade game you have an inventory so you can stockpile useful items (thor's hammer, fire shield, etc.) for later use, and you don't lose life for just standing in one spot as if you have some lame disease. That last fact also makes it easier to find the rune stones and switches that could cost you more life than fighting a horde of enemies in the arcade version, as many of the stones are not that hard to find they just take a good bit of running back and forth.
As a final gameplay note; the camera in this game can get really wanky at times, and it can be hard to keep you bearings. Sure the switches indicate the direction of the the thing they affected, but it doesn't help that much when the camera keeps rotating (and very quickly with no real reason at times). An onscreen compass would have helped navigation a massive amount. Also, the camera seems to be a smoker or something as it can't seem to keep up with the players and it isn't likely to move ahead of the players until they almost reach the edge of the screen.
I'm not really sure how I should rate the music in this game for 1 simple reason: I love the music, but a lot of it doesn't really fit the game. The orchestrated standards used in some levels fit the medieval feel of the game to a tee, but there are also excellent tracks that where squealing electric guitars or eclectic electronic beats dominate the soundscape and these don't really fit into the theme of the game. I chose to give this game an 8 for audio smple because, if you don't like the out of place tunes, you can simply turn the music off with the music volume in the options menu (it's independant of the SFX volume) and put on the Braveheart soundtrack of something :)...
Hoo boy... I have to give credit to the guys who ported this game to the PSX in the face of the comments that ''it couldm't be done'' but there are some serious problems here. All of the players look pretty bad because they tend to smudge together in actual gameplay, meaning that the only way to tell that you are using the falconess is the stiff looking wings, her head doesn't look bird-like as in the arcade game it just looks like a black block with a white thing that could be a beak. All of the enemies look okay, but then again they were not really that detailed to begin with. Just like the enemies environments look like they should and are reasonably varied (mountain w/caves, castle w/dungens, graveyard w/airships, etc.).
Now to the most contentious point IMO, the framerate. Sure it would be great to see the game running nice and smooth at 60 fps but, not surprisingly, it doesn't. GL has a pretty poor framerate but it is handled extremely well. ''How can a game with a poor framerate handle it well?'' you ask, ''because it accepts that fact'' I answer... in other words the game does not try to run at a high speed and then bog down the second something enters the screen it simply uses a framerate that you get used to over time because it almost never changes, even in a 2P game.
Do not, I repeat, do not buy this game (unless it's quite cheap)! Do, I reapeat, do rent this game! Sure there are 4 (or 9 if you count the alternate outfits with slightly raised stats) different characters in the game, but the game doesn't really lend itself to paying through the game with all of them, it's more of a ''play the first level with each to find the one you like, then continue'' type thing. There is no real desire to play the game with each because there is no difference in the game experience other than the fact that the Valkyrie and Warrior can fight things up close and the Wizard and Archer can but shouldn't, you don't get different endings, paths, etc. If you are looking for secrets, well there are some but they are not really that exciting... there are the aforementioned outfits (opened by finishing the treasure rooms), a jukebox and video player (opened by beating all 4 extra levels), and 4 extra levels (1 mountain challenge level, 1 castle challenge level, 1 taken from the desert scenario from the arcade, and 1 taken from the forest scenario in the arcade). There's even the designer's office building (well, floor) hidden in the castle extra level... but nothing that is worth playing (or playing with) more than once of twice.
All of this having been said my conclusion is that the game is fun, but repetitive. Be sure to rent this game and play through it once, and/or play it with a friend, as long as you have not spent lots of dough on the arcade version or have finished the N64 version as there are some changes but nothing worth the extra time/effort/money. Oh, and be sure to enjoy the awesome music in this game... :)
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 04/12/00, Updated 04/12/00
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