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Gauntlet Legends  (N64)

by Brian Kirkpatrick

      Wait, what's this?  A good game for Nintendo64?  Can't be.

      Well, it is.  The popular arcade game comes home in a good transition to the N64.  While the graphics may not be arcade-perfect, nor the gameplay (I hate having to use that horrible analog stick that's on the N64 controllers), it is a very well-done game. 

      I've noticed most people can't figure out the level select.  I can't figure out what's so complex about it that people give up right there.  It's not like the arcade version where you just select from four areas and go from there.  There's six areas now, and you have to take them on in order.  Basically, if you don't have a controller pak (N64 memory card), the game isn't worth playing.  The level select is an actual level.  You walk to which area you want to play through.  Once you get to that area, you'll see several paths to circles on the floor.  Glowing circles are ones you can enter.  These take you to the actual game levels.  In the center of this level select, there is a man.  You can buy stuff from him.  This replaces the shop between levels, as once you complete a level, it drops you back here.

      The game levels play just like the arcade, except that it's harder to control because you're forced to use the analog stick.  Fortunately, there's a little auto-aiming to help make up for this.  The only good that comes from this is that the directional pad can be used to navigate your stats and inventory.

      The game now plays more like a role-playing game than it did in the arcade, thanks much in part to the level select.  To help make it more this way, there are little tasks you have to complete.  The guy in the level select sends you on them through scrolls you pick up during the game.  I like this better, because it adds more of a sense of purpose to the game, rather than just running around killing stuff. 

      Another thing I really like is that saves characters individually rather than a whole game.  That way, you can play single-player for a while, getting your character up, then go over to a friend's house and play your character in a four-player game.  Since I haven't done this, I don't know how it affects the level select.  It probably just lets you go to the highest level one of the characters has gotten to.

      The graphics suffered a bit in transition from the arcade to the console.  The graphics aren't as clear, the textures aren't as vivid, and you can really see the polygons on some models.  The animation is still as fluid as it ever was (which doesn't really say much).  I never could really hear the sound in the arcade, so I can't make a comparison there.

      Throughout all the things I like about the N64 version of this game, there's still the one big problem that the arcade version had.  You can just sit in one spot and smack the button, killing off a never-ending flow of enemies, and going up madd levels.  Anyone who has a rapid-fire button on their controller can just put a brick on it, let it run all night while they sleep, and wake up to a level 99 character.  While there's no fun in that, there are quite a number of instances where the monsters spawn just as fast as you can kill them, and you wonder if you should just sit there or take lots of damage running up to the generator to kill it off.  This is where the auto-aim is bad.  It never targets generators.  So basically, if you run up to the generator, you have to position yourself just right to take it down, which is difficult with the analog stick.  Well, there's always turbo attacks to clear the path.  Those alone pretty much redeemed the game.  Now if only they weren't so limited.

      Another plus is the secret characters.  I haven't seen any of them, but I know they're there.  Doesn't matter if they suck or not, it's just cool that they're there.

      Through all of its shortcomings, it's a pretty cool game.  I'd buy it if I already owned an N64, or if it gets released on the computer (which would rule for internet play).  A Dreamcast or Playstation version would be nice, too.

Overrall Score - 6

Would've gotten an 8 on a different system.