Review by KFHEWUI
"Fast arcade gameplay makes this game perfect solo or with friends"
Garm is the younger brother of a powerful wizard named Sumner, and one day while Sumner leaves his tower, Garm takes the tower where he uses thirteen magical Runestones to summon a demon named Skorne from the underworld. Now no longer bound by the power of the thirteen Runestones, Skorne traps Garm in the bowels of the underworld, but Sumner sensed there was dark magic at work returned to his tower and fought with Skorne. In the battle Skorne was hurt and fled away to a temple where using his power created a seal and gave a piece of the seal to eight guardians. Weak from his battle, Sumner used what little strength he had left to summon heroes to his tower, and the heroes must work together to recover the thirteen magical Runestones and returned Skorne back to the underworld.
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is more of an expansion pack/remake of Gauntlet Legends, and the story is the same as Gauntlet Legends with one new plot twist even though the story is the same, save for a new added storyline, it still enjoyable for those who have not played Gauntlet Legends yet. Like Gauntlet Legends, the story is still told mainly through an explanation after unlocking the realm, the instruction manual, and from Sumner.
At the start of the game, the player can choose from several characters to play as. Each with their own strengths and weaknesses like the warrior is strong but slow however the archer is weak but quick. Warrior, Wizard, Archer, and Valkyrie return from Gauntlet Legends, but new to the game are Sorceress, Jester, Dwarf, and Knight. The new characters are the same as the original just with different weapons and design. Jester acts just like Archer, Sorceress is opposite of Wizard and so on. There are also eight hidden character that can be unlocked. The back of the box mentions fifty hidden characters to play as, and there are thirty-four hidden characters that can only be accessed by cheat codes.
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy looks as good as the arcade version however no upgrades were done to the graphics so while it looks great, it does not harness any of the power the X-Box was capable of producing to enhance the graphics so compared to other X-Box games it does not look that impressive. There is a nice variety of locales in the game with their own distinct look from mountains, mausoleum, graveyard, castle, underworld, and carnival to name a few. The textures look great and are clean and clear, and the characters and enemies are nicely animated. The CG cut scenes from the arcade version are included in this port, and they still look great.
There is some voice acting in the game, and the game uses a dialogue pool for the narrator. Since there are four different colors for each characters and eight characters to play as recording so-so is about to die for every character would have taken quite a while to do so. The result of this is that some of the lines can sound uneven. Like Gauntlet Legends, the sound track is still catchy and unforgettable, and the new tracks are fantastic including a heavy metal track that plays in the nightmare level.
Gameplay is hack-and-slash, and this means slaying thousands upon thousands of enemies. Most of the enemies come from generators and until the generator is destroyed they will constantly spawn. Other enemies like archers, kamikazes, bomb throwers, death, golems, and gargoyles are set at certain parts throughout the levels. Gargoyles are the new enemies, and there are three types of gargoyles: snake head, eagle head, and lion head. These strong beasts can take a beating before going down. These enemies drop golden items which are used to open up new areas of the game.
The player can do a bash attack by hitting attack or they can toss their weapon by hold down attack. Aside from this they also can use magic and turbo attacks and depending on how full the turbo meter is will determine what attack is done. A full turbo attack will perform the strongest attack, but turbo can also be used with magic to throw magic potions at enemies. Included are a massive amount of weapon power ups that include acid breath, rapid fire, reflective shots, invisibility, three-way shot, phoenix, thunder hammer, and X-Ray glasses to name a few. Also new to the game is the ability to create fire shield, but this requires a magic potion.
Killing enemies will give the player experience, and after receiving a certain amount of experience, they will level up. Once the player reaches level 30, the character will gain a familiar which follows the player around and attacks when the player attacks. Leveling up will also increase the characters health, strength, defense, speed, and magic power.
Controlling the player is simple thanks to a solid controls and a good layout of the controls. It takes very little time to grasp the controls, and the Left stick moves while attack and magic are mapped to face buttons. The D-Pad can be used to cycle through items and activate/deactivate items. The default control scheme is great, but there are a few other options one is a Robotron inspired and uses the left stick to fire. It seems strange, but works pretty well.
The level design in the game range from maze like to straight forward, and the object is always the same. Hit switches, collect keys (for chests and gates), destroy generators, and find the exit portal are the basic gist, and some of the levels will have a secret exit which leads to a bonus level where the player will have the chance to unlock a hidden character. The last level of each realm is always a boss fight. Also scattered about in some levels are Runestones and all thirteen must be collected to reach the final level. Special weapons return, and there is one for each boss. There are also gate crystals scattered about, and this item replaces the obelisks from the Gauntlet Legends. Now a certain amount of gate crystals must be collected to open up other realms, and there are a few new worlds in the game including: dream and forsaken providence along with all of the realms from the first game. After beating the level, the player will be given the chance to save, and a single memory card can store up to 8 games.
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is not a game for everyone, and the repetitive gameplay is not for everyone. The replay value of the game comes from playing as the different characters, but the game does support up to four players at once. There are several different difficulties available to play on. Also worth mentioning is that X-Box version is definitely the best port it includes the option for life bars for golems (from PS2 version) plus the new weapons that were exclusive to the GCN version.
The fast pace of the arcade like gameplay is one of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy's strength, and it is easy to pick up and play however the repetitive gameplay will not be everyone's cup of tea.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/31/12
Game Release: Gauntlet Dark Legacy (US, 04/15/02)
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