Review by KFHEWUI

"Great hack-and-slash that is fun either played solo or with friends"

A powerful wizard named Sumner, built a magnificent tower in the heart of Gauntlet, and his younger brother named Garm took control of the tower and used thirteen magical Runestones to open a passage to the underworld. Skorne, a powerful demon, escaped through the passage, and Garm used magic to take control of Skorne. Garm's powers were too weak, and Skorne broke free from Garm's control and took control of the tower. Using the portals in the tower, Skorne spread his army throughout the land of Gauntlet, and he sealed each land and scattered the Runestones. Sumner returns to his tower to find what has happened, and using the last of his power, he summons four heroes and opens a portal to the Mountain Realm. The four heroes must recover the thirteen Runestones and defeat the demon, Skorne.

Gauntlet Legends has a decent story, but there is very little story telling in the game. Most of the story is told through the instruction manual and from Sumner whom gives History of the land and a brief description of each land after the realms are opened.

Title screen loads up with a fantastic piece played on an organ, and the sound track is amazing for Gauntlet Legends. Each track is catchy and memorable, but for some reason the default music level is set low. Turning it up to maximum is highly suggested, but every time the player plays the game (turning on the system) the volume resets with no way to save the volume options. The one downside to turning up the music is that it drowns out the narrator making it hard to tell what he is saying.

Starting up a new game, the player can choose from four characters to play as Warrior, Magician, Valkyrie, and Archer, and each character has their own strengths and weaknesses like the archer is quick and weak however the warrior is strong but slow. There are four additional characters to play as however they can only be used after they are unlocked by beating secret levels that are scattered throughout the game.

The player starts out in the tower which is the hub of the game, and there are gates that lead to different realms of Gauntlet however the mountain realm is the only realm that is open from the start. Also in the hub is Sumner, and he will tell information about the history of the realms or give hints plus he has a shop. At the shop there are health, keys, magic, and power ups that can be bought, and these power ups include rapid fire, reflect shot, three way fire, and more. The shop also has stats that can be upgrade for the player that include armor, strength, magic, and speed.

The first level is the valley level, and when this level starts up, it becomes apparent that the cut scenes from the arcade version were removed from this port. The N64 version is the only port to not have these cut scenes. Graphic wise the game does not look too bad however the game did not receive any upgrade in the graphics when it was ported over. The graphics are bright and colorful, and the textures are clean and crisp. Character and enemies do not look that bad, and there are some noticeable minor details on them that look nice.

Enemies will start pouring out from a generator that is nearby, and they will continue to spawn until the generator is destroyed. The enemies do not take too much damage before dying, but the larger the enemies are the more life that have. Hitting attack will have the player throw a projectile at the enemy, and the direction is determined by pushing on the analog stick. If the enemies get close, hitting attack will have the player bash the enemy with their weapon. Besides projectile, the player can use magic if they have any potion, and magic is needed to defeat Death whom will steal the player's health, and the player can also throw potion by hitting magic and turbo simultaneously. The turbo lets the player run, but I never found it useful for this purpose instead using it for attacks is much more useful. Hitting attack and turbo will cause the character to do a turbo attack which usually wipes the screen clean of enemies, and there are two types of turbo attacks which are determined by how full the turbo bar is.

There is a nice selection of enemies in the game that range from ankle biters (scorpions and rats), golemns, suiciders, archers, grunts (range from small to large), and Death. Each realm has different enemies that are unique, and Death is the only enemy that does not receive a new design in each realm.

Besides killing waves of enemies, there are keys to collect which are used for open gates and chests, and there are switches to hit that open up passages or reveal a hidden platform. There are fake walls scattered throughout the game, and these places usually hide switches, Runestones, or Obelisks. Finding all the Obelisks in each realm opens up another realm, and each realm usually has three Obelisks. Runestones are vital to collect because all thirteen are needed to open up a passage way to the Underworld where they will take on Skorne.

At the end of each realm is a boss, and each boss in the game is unique and offers a different experience. The first realm's guardian is a dragon, and this fight can be tough if the player is not at the right level and does not have the special weapon. Each realm has a special weapon that hurts the boss with the exception of Skorne's special weapon which seems to do nothing. These are not essential to beating the boss, but they do help make quick work of the boss.

The control layout is good, and it is not too tough to grasp the controls. Movement feels fluid and responsive, and aiming attacks is very easy.

Levels range from straight forward to maze like, and I never saw slowdowns at any time. Some of the later levels are so long that they are broken up into two parts, and for some reason this port cut several realms from the arcade version which include forest and desert realms.

The N64 port is much better than the PS1 port, and it allows up to four players (PS1 only has two players max). Playing with more players is not required, but there are shortcuts in the game that can be used by two or more players.

Replay value comes in multiple characters to play as, three difficulties, and bonus characters to unlock.

There are a few issues with Gauntlet Legends. The gameplay is repetitive, but I did not have problem with that. This port also cuts out some cut scenes and levels from the arcade version. Difficulty is another problem, and I found the game way to easy even on the highest setting, I was able to plow through the game solo with very little trouble.

Gauntlet Legends is good port of the arcade game, and it is enjoyable even if it is played solo or with friends however some might not enjoy the repetitive nature of the game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 08/03/12, Updated 05/15/13

Game Release: Gauntlet Legends (US, 08/31/99)

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