joseppie's Gauntlet Legends (Nintendo 64) review

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Simple But Fun

There’s something to be said for single-minded purpose in game design. Gauntlet Legends is a perfect example to be used in the argument, no matter on which side you might be. It’s an unapologetic dungeon crawler. You hack. You slash. You level up. It doesn’t aspire to do anything more. It may not do a whole lot but don’t take that to mean it’s not worth playing. It does what little it does do very well and if you’re looking for a hack-and-slash RPG in the classic sense, this would be a fine choice - especially if you have some friends wanting to join.

Gauntlet Legends is revolves around the story of a big bad demon named Skorne, who was summoned by an eager young mage long ago but then turned on his new master and spread 13 runes across…ah, who cares? The story in Gauntlet Legends serves no purpose other than to provide you with a bad guy to fight at the end and a bunch of little bad guys to fight along the way. You fight those bad guys in four different worlds with about 5-7 stages in each world. Each of the worlds is certainly distinct from one another but the stages within those worlds tend to bleed together.

You fight as one of the four characters from the original Gauntlet: the warrior, archer, valkyrie, and wizard. There really isn’t much of a difference between them, though. Each plays about the same way with main variance between them being how the characters’ attacks look. They also have slight stat difference but too slight to make a difference. The highlight of each character is their power attacks - devastating attacks that recharge as you play. These impressive attacks annihilate everything on screen (and off-screen if you’re lucky) with matching visual flair. A number of items spice up combat instead of a variety of moves. There are amulets to strengthen basic attacks, multi-shot items to proliferate your ranged attacks, and hourglasses to stop time. The items are a blast to use and who doesn’t like growing huge like Apache Chief and obliterating some dudes?

Legends looks alright but it’s nothing special. The aforementioned power attacks look fittingly impressive but can cause some slow-down when used if the screen is filled with enemies. The catch is that the attacks are most often used when the screen is full of enemies. Oh well, can’t have everything I guess. Some environment textures can be pretty blurry as well but the player characters are better detailed.

And with Gauntlet Legends, the more of those characters being used, the better. This game thrives on co-op play. The arcade roots of the game have obviously remained intact on the transfer to consoles. It’s at its best when you’re stomping through a few levels full of demons with three of your buddies.
What’s on display with Gauntlet Legends might seem too simplified for some, but that really is the game’s strength. It’s single-minded, it knows it, and it does well the one thing it sets out to do. It doesn’t bring anything new to the dungeon crawler but that’s not a bad thing in this instance. It’s a great example of the genre and easily recommendable to anyone looking to knock around zombies, lizards, and skeletons with some friends.

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