Completion time: 15:12:20
Over on PSX Mania, I had Gauntlet Legends as a milestone game for sometime in the future. It’s a game I’ve never played, and have always had an interest in playing. For Dreamcast Mania though, I decided to put it as the third game (and likely now will remove it as a milestone for the PS1). I’m glad I got around to playing this sooner and not later (and this version ans my first impression), as the core gameplay, as grindy and monotonous as it really is, comes off as genuinely fun, although there are a handful of issues that prevents it from reaching greatness.
The camera angles are a main culprit. There is no manual camera control, and more often than not, it is zoomed in so close that you can see nose hairs. In some cases, the perspective given obstructs the view of vital points of progression, forcing you to try and move in a way that the camera pivots around to a more advantageous perspective (and most of the time, that doesn’t happen).
The health grind was a form of padding that was not needed whatsoever. Having to constantly dip back to the very first area to replenish my health became a chore. Had they made enemies a bit more damaging, they could have easily set up a system in which every level gained refilled your health, or even successfully completing a stage fills it back up. But nope….run back to level one for 5-35 minutes and loop the stage multiple times to get “topped off” enough to enter the next encounter. Gauntlet Legends could have also benefited from truncating the entire third act and condensing it considerably, as that’s when the tedium and monotony really started to set in.
Grievances notwithstanding, Gauntlet Legends is a lot of fun. Mindless, repetitive fun. I could see how this would be a really enjoyable time with a friend or three joining in, though I’m sure the game would chug a bit more than it does now. It’s not a visual marvel, but things look proper enough, but feel like they were upscaled 32-bit graphics. The audio really didn’t matter much. It’s just the mindless grind that I found endearing. I’m someone that’s know to enjoy doing the same old thing over and over again, especially in an MMORPG, so the grind and samey gameplay wasn’t a blemish to me. I also loved the stage layouts overall. It was incredibly creative how some stages played out, how multi-tiered many were, and how much that actually added to the enjoyment factor. I wish more action RPG’s took up this kind of model when doing dungeon layouts and such.
Had the aforementioned shortcomings been shored up, I truly think Gauntlet Legends would have ended up at a higher score, and something I would have fondly remembered. As it stands, it’s a great time, so long as you don’t mind the fact that you never really deviate from the mindless gameplay, the health issues, the camera debacle, and the fact that it overstays its welcome by the third act. If you have friends over regularly, I do recommend picking this up on the Dreamcast, as I’m certain more bodies would provide an even more enjoyable time with it.