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Gauntlet Legends
Score: 89%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Arcade/ RPG/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
If you were a fan of Gauntlet from back in the day, Gauntlet Legends brings the classic back, with a few updated touches. Inside, you'll find the familiar characters of yesteryear - only this time, with more personality. The main characters are the classic four (Valkyrie, Warrior, Wizard, and an Archer that looks very much like an elf), along with four hidden characters. In addition, the characters can be any of four colors, and each color is not just a different outfit, but an entirely different character likeness. Not only can you choose to be the Wizard, you can choose what your wizard looks like. (Be the Red one, be the Red one!!) The levels are on familiar themes, but have the added depth of three dimensions. True, you can't jump up or down, so precipices aren't really a threat, and it's kind of hard to explain why your 54th level Wizard can't jump down off of a crate, but this keeps the 'sequential area' dynamics of the original working - which helps, when more than one person is playing. Since you share a screen, there's enough trouble trying to keep both players going in the same direction without having free will to wander aimlessly about.

The sound is nicely handled in most places. The intro music includes the original Gauntlet music and works into an updated orchestral version of the same. Most of the music in the levels themselves show why it's nice to have a CD player as part of a video game system. Many of the songs are reminiscent of musical scores from adventure movies (ala “Conan the Barbarian”)... a nice touch. Missing is the familiar 'Wizard need food badly,' unfortunately. Ah, well... I guess some things just get lost in translation.

Well, how you view the gameplay will depend largely on what you expect. Basically, you are limited to two players, you get the dynamics of the original Gauntlet arcade game (from long ago), with some added 3D elements, and hours of fun. Not surprisingly, it's not as vivid as the arcade version. If you have BIG problems with the game being a game for a max of two players, skip down to GAME MECHANICS before continuing...

Besides the two player limitation, it's actually a very fun game. You choose your character, then begin your quest to collect all of the rune stones to face the evil Skorne. Of course, nothing's ever easy, as Skorne has scattered the rune stones and hidden and protected their locations. Don't be surprised to find a twist here or there that requires you to complete another task to continue.

The levels in Gauntlet Legends generally get more difficult and complex as you progress, but your character becomes more powerful as he (or she) gains experience. One nice feature about Gauntlet Legends is that you can continue on to the next level, even if you don't find everything you need in one of the levels. You'll need to keep track of what levels you'll have to come back to, of course, but as you progress, you'll have choices of what levels you want to try. That way, you can return to a level that you may have found more difficult once you've gotten a few additional levels under your belt. There are a slew of power-ups that can either be found in treasure chests or purchased in the tower. When used strategically, these items can make a great difference in a tight spot.

If you find Gauntlet Legends difficult, however, you can convince a friend to play along with you. The two player game simply has twice as many 'good guys,' with the bad guys generating at the same rate. As long as you can manage to go in the same general direction, the two player mode is a lot easier. This especially goes for bosses. If you have trouble with a boss character, have a friend join in with you long enough to defeat the boss. If you have a decent character and your friend doesn't, you can save your game first, and then both load your experienced character off of the same memory card before going to attack the boss. (If you do this, you'll want to save only the progress of whichever player got the most experience... or save in different slots.) Of course, this will make it a bit difficult to keep track of who's who, but in the boss stages, you can choose sides of the screen and sort of stay there.

Game Mechanics:
If you were hoping for the next chapter of the classic Gauntlet game, unchanged, then you might dislike the 3D elements and the larger variety of character appearances. If you played Gauntlet Legends in the arcade and hoped for a straight port that was indistinguishable from the original, you'll find the graphics to be a bit blocky. In either case, you'll wish that four players could play at the same time. Alas, one of the most renowned four player games of yesteryear has been reduced to a two player game. Most think this is a very bad thing. I reserve judgement. As I recall, there was always someone getting trapped behind a wall or such in the original Gauntlet, stopping progression. It's kinda hard to keep everyone moving in the same direction at the same rate. At least with only two players, this is less of a problem. Plus, when you consider the fact that the PlayStation has only two gameports built in, it's hard to decide to support an 'add-on' that not everyone has.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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