Gauntlet Dark Legacy
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|Gauntlet Dark Legacy|
North American cover art for PlayStation 2
|Developer(s)||Midway Games West|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2 
|Genre(s)||Hack and slash, beat 'em up|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, Multiplayer (Up to 4 players)|
|Display||Raster, standard, medium or high resolution (Used: 336 x 240)|
Gauntlet Dark Legacy, released in 2001 for PlayStation 2 and in 2002 for Game Boy Advance, GameCube and Xbox, is an expansion of the previous title in the series, Gauntlet Legends. The expansion adds four new character classes: Dwarf, Knight, Jester, and Sorceress, and five new levels: the Dream World, Sky Dominion, Ice Domain, Forsaken Province, and the Battlegrounds; with the old Town Realm (also known as Twinion) from Gauntlet Legends being broken down into the Forsaken Province and the Sky Dominion. It also adds a large number of secret characters, some of which can be unlocked in the game, others only accessible by entering specific cheat codes.
In ancient times, the evil mage Garm, using the power of the Runestones, released a great evil upon the land. This demon, Skorne, broke free of Garm's control, crushing him and imprisoning his soul in the underworld. Skorne then released his minions upon the land, and scattered the Runestones across the Eight Realms, so that they might never again be assembled and used against him.
No one has dared try. . .
— The game's introductory cinematic
The manual included with the game elaborates on the story further, stating that Sumner is the good king of the 8 realms and presides over them from his tower. The tower contained portals to all the realms for his easy access to them. It also stated that Garm, his younger brother, jealous of his power and status, searched for years for the 13 Runestones. Upon finding 12 after much toil of searching, he became impatient, and released Skorne then and there. Unfortunately, he was not able to control the demon without the 13th Runestone. Skorne summoned his minions and sent them through the portals in the tower to conquer the realms. Sumner, who was away at the time, returned to the tower, only to see the demon Skorne using it for his own evil gain. This infuriated Sumner, and he angrily engaged in battle with Skorne after sealing all the portals. Skorne was "no match" for Sumner's power, according to the manual, and he retreated into a deserted temple through Sumner's tower. Skorne shattered the enchanted stained glass window that was the only gateway to the temple, and gave one shard to each of his most powerful minions (the bosses of the game). He also scattered the 12 assembled Runestones across the various worlds. The temple from that point on is referred to as the Desecrated Temple.
The game is divided up into worlds, each containing a number of levels, all accessible from Sumner's tower.
The player's first objective is to beat all the levels, vanquishing the bosses of the 8 originally available worlds. The player must collect crystals scattered about the levels to deactivate Sumner's protective shielding and gain access to new worlds and more levels. Upon defeating the bosses, the stained-glass window is slowly restored, and the light pouring from it reveals a special portal in the tower. This portal takes the player to the 9th world, the Desecrated Temple. The player must fight his or her way through a single level packed with enemies. Upon exiting the player is automatically transported to Skorne's chamber. Here the player has to defeat the demon Skorne. After defeating him, he retreats into the Underworld. The player must then collect 12 Runestones from the previous 8 worlds. Once that is accomplished, their power reveals another special portal in the tower, leading the player into the 10th world, the Underworld. There, after beating a single level, the player is automatically transported to the battle with True Skorne . The player defeats True Skorne, banishing him from the eight realms forever. But the war is not over. Garm absorbs the fading remnants of Skorne's power, becoming a huge, immensely powerful statue of Skorne. He forms an army and unleashes an assault upon Sumner's tower. The player's final goal is to beat the 11th and final world, the Battlegrounds. After beating the third level of this world and collecting the 13th Runestone that is hidden within it, the fourth and final special portal is revealed in the tower. This portal takes the player to Garm's Citadel, where the final battle of the game takes place.
Each character has unmatched abilities in certain areas:
|Magic||Increases the range of and damage inflicted from magic potion use.|
|Strength||Inflicts more damage to enemies when attacking.|
|Speed||Allows the character to move & attack more quickly.|
|Armor||Gives the character more durability when hit.|
In addition, each set of characters has a special power they can use when they use magic potions at a certain level of experience.
- Wizard/Jackal and Sorceress/Medusa have superior abilities in magic and with magic potions. Their magic potions cleanse poisoned fruit and meat after level 25.
- Knight/Unicorn and Valkyrie/Falconess have superior abilities in armor and protection. Traps become disabled or destroyed when they use magic potions.
- Warrior/Minotaur and Dwarf/Ogre have superior abilities in strength. When they use magic potions nearby piles of junk transform into piles of silver and gold.
- Archer/Tigress and Jester/Hyena have superior abilities in speed and reflexes. Walls hiding secret areas are revealed or destroyed when they use magic potions.
The wizard Sumner is also available to be played after being unlocked in one of the final levels of the game.
Gauntlet Dark Legacy, although an expansion to Gauntlet Legends, is played much differently. In addition to the new characters, players can now fire both slow and fast attacks. The player has an option of performing a slow, strong attack, or a quick, weaker attack, as opposed to Legends, where there is only one type of attack. In Gauntlet Dark Legacy, the player can perform combos by using slow attacks and quick attacks in sequence. Combos are much stronger than normal attacks, and are usually capable of taking out several enemies at once. In Legends, each player has a turbo gauge that refills itself slowly and automatically. This turbo gauge allows the player to use turbo attacks, attacks that are stronger than the normal ones. When the turbo gauge is empty, no turbo attacks can be used until it filled up again. Dark Legacy keeps the turbo gauge, but expands on it, allows two players standing adjacent to each other to perform a combination turbo attack together, usually packing a lot of force (and draining half of the turbo gauge of the player that initiated the combination turbo).
The way a player uses items is also relatively the same as in the first game. The player can gather items from the levels, and then activate them when they please. The items provide benefits and disappear within a set time. In Dark Legacy, items (with the exception of Magic Potions, items that allow the player to use magic in a radius or as a shield) are activated the moment they are obtained with the same duration needing intervention from the player to turn them off in the item menu. They can then be accessed at will. More items are available in the shop in Dark Legacy (with very high prices) and the old items' prices were changed. This places more emphasis on the decision of what item to buy, as usually the player can only afford one or two. Items bought in the shop between levels are activated as soon as the player enters another level and need to be toggled on or off at the players discretion.
In Dark Legacy, the player has the added abilities of blocking, charging, and strafing. Strafing allows the player to constantly face one direction and fire medium-speed attacks. Blocking causes the player's character to stand still in a defensive position for a second or two. Any melee attacks made against the player are negated or do significantly less damage. Charging makes the player run forward with his weapon functioning like a lance while simultaneously blocking. The player can kill the enemies ahead of him while blocking their attacks. However, charging does consume a bit of the turbo gauge each time it is used.
However, the game still has identifiable roots with the original Gauntlet games. The way to go about most levels is to simply run along a designated path, decimating enemies before they can kill you. Like Gauntlet and Gauntlet II, enemies spawn from Generators. Only when the Generator is destroyed will the enemies stop spawning. Some Generators will take multiple hits to destroy; as the Generator is weakened, it will spawn less powerful enemies, until it is destroyed completely. There are some, but very few, levels that have a maze-like aspect to them, and are thus hard to navigate to the exit. Most levels however have the path to the end easily in sight, with separate side paths that are harder to access. Usually these side paths lead to important items, such as a lot of treasure, a Legendary Weapon, or a Runestone. Some levels, such as the first level of a realm, will have a short movie before the level loads. These can either serve to introduce the player to any new types of enemies appearing on that particular level, or to alert the player that a Legendary Weapon is hidden somewhere in the level. Runestones are not hinted at in movies, although if a level that has a Runestone is exited without the Runestone being found, an evil laugh will be heard. Food still recovers health in Dark Legacy as it did in Gauntlet II, with the type of food restoring different amounts of health. Treasure is also a rarity in Dark Legacy, as it is used to purchase items at the store. This is a difference from the earlier Gauntlet games, as in their levels treasure was everywhere, and it gave extra points, but it did not serve any other purpose.
Gauntlet Dark Legacy was met with good to mediocre reviews. Gerald Villoria of GameSpot stated of the Xbox and GameCube versions that "The game's extremely dated appearance and poor performance keep it from competing with other popular four-player games" at the time.
Of all the console versions of the game, the PlayStation 2 version was the most well-received, with a score of 31 out of 40 from Famitsu, and an average score of 70.77% on GameRankings and 73 out of 100 from Metacritic. The GameCube and Xbox versions, which were both built off the PS2 version and released a year later, received less favorable score averages of 61.43% and 52.65% (GameRankings) and 60 and 54 out of 100 (Metacritic) on the same two sites. Even though these versions added new features to the game, such as the ability to save power-ups for later use, their number of glitches was reportedly greater. The GameCube version is especially notable in this aspect, as it suffered major slowdown in large or highly detailed areas, and did not show life bars for golems, gargoyles, and bosses. However, Game Chronicles favored the Xbox version, saying, "This is my third time playing this game, and the Xbox has easily been the most enjoyable of all three experiences. The power of the Xbox is fully exploited to deliver great graphics, and all those cool innovations that the GameCube version got a few months ago are included making this the ultimate Gauntlet experience."
The Game Boy Advance version's reception was very negative, with an average score of only 35.25% on GameRankings and 37 out of 100 from Metacritic. One of the worst aspects of this particular version, according to GameSpot, was the absence of multi-player, which is a vital part of the Gauntlet franchise.
In 2004, publisher iBooks (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) released a novel based upon the video game titled Gauntlet Dark Legacy - Book 1: Paths Of Evil by Richard C. White (ISBN 0-74349-305-2). The sequel Gauntlet Dark Legacy - Book 2: Paths Of Fear was written and was planned for a 2005 release, but due to the demise of both Byron Preiss Visual Productions and the licensor, this never came to pass. As of 2007, the license for these stories had reverted to Midway Games, and unless a new licensor commissions White to finish his tale, Book 1 will likely be the last of the Gauntlet series.
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