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Gauntlet: Dark Legacy




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Take a trip back to the days of yore when Dwarves, Jesters and Sorceresses with big **** fought side by side.


Midway has a rich and storied history in the arcades. Many of my years and quarters have been spent in front of arcade boxes bearing the Midway logo. One game from this era (was it really almost 15 years ago) would be the original arcade cabinet of Gauntlet.

There was one pizza place that my friends and I would hit every so often, and we always made sure to bring enough change to be able to spend several hours with Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie, and Elf (who was always "about to die"). Several updates later, the franchise has hit the Xbox.


Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is one of those games that are best enjoyed with a group of friends. The original arcade game supported a revolutionary 4-player co-op style of play, something that has thankfully not changed throughout the series various incarnations (and resurrections). Up to four people (friends, family, neighbors, the mailman, etc.) can get together and join in on the fun. Singly, the game becomes a chore as you sit there camped out hacking at the enemies by yourself.

The Gauntlet series has always had a "cover your friend's back" appeal to it, which adds much more fun to the game. It should almost be a requirement that the game not have a single player option. When one player locates food, they will almost inevitably shout out "Who needs food?" instead of automatically taking it for themselves.

Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is a port/update/retread of the PS2 game that came out a year ago. That shouldn't stop interested gamers from picking up the Xbox version though. If you haven't played the game on the PS2 (or GameCube) and you have a group of gamers looking to do something collectively other than play Circus Maximus, this is a great way to spend an afternoon or two.

The game is not without it's flaws though. The first being that the arcade game this is based on came out years ago. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, a little updating would seem to be in order. Aged arcade cabinet technology and the Xbox aren't the same. Sure the game looks nice on the Xbox, but it could have looked better.

The framerate stutters or slows down only occasionally, which was an issue (reportedly, I have no first hand knowledge) with the GameCube and PS2 versions of the game. There are some spots where the camera can get in the way, especially when four players are headed in different directions, but overall, the graphics are decent, but not up to Xbox standards.

The audio is also fairly standard. While this would be a bone of contention with most console games, remembering that this is a title that should be played more like an arcade game will help you realize that the music isn't going to be too symphonic. The music is still decent though, and appropriate for the game.

Sound effects are good, but after a few hours, you get sick of hearing the same "thwack" over and over again. This will be alleviated if you play the game with friends, since you will all be talking at the same time. That's the sort of audio that Midway was aiming for.

The primary goal of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is secondary to the fun had in getting there. You clear level after level through several different environments of the baddies, each environment (or world) will have a boss that needs to be conquered. It's all pretty standard fare really. While a simple "hack 'n' slash" at heart, it is this simplicity in gameplay that keeps things moving.

In trying to beef up the home experience, Midway packed in a lot of levels, a lot of power-ups, nearly every (if not all - if memory serves correctly) character that ever graced a Gauntlet game. While the characters have to be unlocked, doing so isn't much of a chore. Perhaps Midway, in trying to increase the value of a 4 year old game, packed in too much. While unlocking characters is great, do you really want to go through the same 60 levels as a different character just because you can?

Midway did a decent job in porting over Gauntlet's latest iteration, it's just too bad that it's old enough to where people have already played it to death in the arcades or possibly have it for PS2 or GameCube. It would have been nice to see the original arcade game unlockable, much like Midway did with Spy Hunter. That would have added some much needed depth to the game, as well as enticing old school gamers to pick up the Xbox copy of a game that, if they really are true fans of the series, already have for another console.

While Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is a decent enough game, its main saving grace is the four player co-op play, something of a rarity. Midway will most likely bring out another update to the Gauntlet series in the coming years. Hopefully, the Xbox version will be treated with a bit more graphical respect than just a straight PS2 looking port.

Daniel "monk" Pelfrey
Had no qualms about playing as the Valkyrie "back in the day."

Gauntlet: Dark Legacy: The Scores













The Final Word:  This game is best enjoyed in the company of others. While other games such as Halo have a co-op mode, with the Gauntlet franchise, it's not just a feature, it's a basic gameplay premise. While it's an older arcade/PS2 game ported over, there is not much in the way of competition for Gauntlet Dark Legacy. If you already have the game on another platform, there really is no reason to pick this up. If you don't, and are hankering to have a game you can play with your friends, this should fit the bill quite nicely.

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