Starts Mediocre, Ends up Tedious.
There is only one good things about this game: a floating caricature of death.
LesLites’ Ranking: #63/100
*Originally, I played this version to write a review for the N64 thinking the two ports couldn’t be that different (I couldn’t get a hold of an N64 version). After looking at some Youtube videos comparing the versions, it’s clear that the PS1 version is way worse and would be unfair to use as the basis for the N64 game review.*
Remembering Gauntlet Legends fondly for its accessible two-player mode and RPG elements, I was excited to give this game another look. Little did I know that the PS1 version played like doing a waterfall with skunked beer left out in a woodshed during a hot and humid Southern Summer.
Everything started out okay. It’s a little mindless as you button smash your axe throw and occasionally use power ups, but at least it didn’t bog you down with anything taxing like inventory or equipment management. There were some light puzzles to keep you thinking. It felt like a low-thrill but entertaining amusement park ride reminiscent of the Egg Scrambler or Merry-Go-Round.
However, its only solution for increasing the difficulty level was by increasing the length of the stages. Instead of being asked to master a particular skill, it wants you to instead just stick around doing the same old things for a longer period of time. It’s a test of your attention span more than anything, and with how sparse the gameplay diversity is, you’ll be asking for an early death…
…which death might be the only reason to play.
Your basic lore involving a corrupt mage summoning a demon that ended up being too strong to control and banished the mage to underworld. Now the demon has locked away the rune stones and glass shards necessary to defeat it. Our heroes arrive to collect the enchanted items to send the demon back to where he belongs.
First, this game is pretty ugly. I mean really ugly. It’s a hideous collection of pixelated, polygonal creatures that are disproportionate and clip through the environment. Fights look more like colored sand art.
But that’s not the only thing that’s hideous. Between each segment, you are treated to a low-grade 3D depiction of the world you are about to traverse along with a rough looking CGI movie involving enemies.
Or what about the most frightening beasts that guard the precious stained-glass shards necessary to defeat the evil Demon Skorne? Absolute Derp.
Graphics notwithstanding, the gameplay on the PS1 suffers from being too easy. This seems to be the biggest reported difference between the N64 and PS1 with the latter having less enemies and less difficulty.
Even with this change, Gauntlet Legends for the PS1 was still fairly fun in the beginning. Who doesn’t like stepping on worms and opening up treasure chests? The early Rune stones were hidden, but not supremely difficult to find. Everything was okay.
When you hit the ice stages, however, is when things change. I might like stepping on worms and collecting chests, but I don’t like to do it for more than several minutes at a time. As you progressed through the stages, the time commitment continued to grow without any change in actual gameplay. The later stages are exactly the same as the early ones except instead of green orcs you have skulls coming out of party tents.
In a stroke of serendipity, the gameplay does have one thing that will stick with me for the rest of my life. A particularly peculiar enemy is death, hooded robe and all. He hides in barrels, barns, chests, and walls and comes after you to suck your life away. With a potion, he lets out a blood curling cry and then floats away directly up into the sky.
It’s ridiculous. I love him.
I guess I’m going to have to get the N64 Version.