Gauntlet Series Retrospective Part 7: Gauntlet Dark Legacy

Gauntlet Series Retrospective Part 7: Gauntlet Dark Legacy
Gauntlet Series Retrospective Part 7: Gauntlet Dark Legacy

Insert Disk collects Gauntlet Dark Legacy for the PS2.

Today’s retro game review is Gauntlet Dark Legacy for the PS2. This retro gaming classic is the focus of part 7 of the 10 part Insert-Disk Gauntlet Mini Series Where we will take a look back at Gauntlet, Gauntlet The Deeper Dungeons, Gauntlet 2, Gauntlet: The Third Encounter, Gauntlet 3, Gauntlet 4, Gauntlet Legends, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, Gauntlet: Slayer Edition as well as a bonus look at the Gauntlet origin story in Dandy and Dark Chambers.

Welcome to the Gauntlet retrospective part 7 of 10.

Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. It’s part 7 of this Gauntlet Mini series. Welcome to the Gauntlet! You join us at the second and last instalment of the Legends era. Today we are look at Gauntlet Dark Legacy for the PlayStation 2.

It’s worth noting that this game is also available on the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. I’ll be mostly showing footage of the PS2 version.
1998’s Gauntlet Legends had proved one thing and that’s that there was still an ember of life in the Gauntlet franchise. Legends certainly wasn’t a smash hit on the home consoles but it did well enough to justify that at some point in time a sequel could be on the cards. This sequel never came to the 32-bit generation but did arrive in the form of Gauntlet Dark Legacy in 2001 on the next gen hardware. Legends had been a bit sluggish, uninspired and distinctly average. The move from 2D to 3D was not an easy one for the series but the developers believed in the cause. I’m pleased to say that a lot of the misgivings I have about Legends were addressed in Dark Legacy. The upgrades were not dramatic but enough to catch my interest in the series once more. Enough time had passed to let the classic era go. It was gone, finished. It was time to see the Legacy era as its own set of games and therefore not be compared so meticulously to the originals. By this measure I’m pleased to say that I actually really enjoy Dark Legacy. The introduction neatly reminds us of the happenings in Gauntlet Legends whilst also pushing us further in to the story. All of the previous characters make it in to this sequel in addition to new classes in the way of Dwarf, Knight, Jester and Sorceress.

The aim of the game isn’t that different from Legends. You’ll be stepping through portals, bashing bad guys, collecting keys and generally running about in some decent paced action. This time around though it feels different, it feels like a game that knows what it wants to be this time around rather than a licenced name bolted on to a generic hack and slash title. The camera angle and depth issues have been resolved, the map layouts more enjoyable and the combat system has evolved in a very pleasing way. You’ll now really get to grips with standard shots, up close attaches, magic, strong attacks and special attacks. These upgrades in attacks really are a game changer. Legends fell foul of being too repetitive at times. Dark Legacy seems much fresher for longer by asking more of the player in terms of strategy.

As you might expect the sound and graphics have had somewhat of an overhaul and both polished up rather well. This time around the classes also feel different to play with. The archer has some nimble skills, the Valkyrie is fiercer than ever and the Jester is a really great alternative to play as.
It’s clear that there really is more in the way of game design here, lifting the game from a generic hack and slash to a more authentic Gauntlet experience.

The physical presentation is also very decent. The artwork looks far more pleasing than the rather awkward polygons of Legends. It’s more vivid and inviting and a game that asks to be taken down every now and then for a quick bursts of action. Whilst perhaps not to the tastes of the older Gauntlet player there is certainly something to be said for Dark Legacy, it is fun and the game play varied which is perhaps all we could have asked for at this juncture in time. Definitely worth a pick up if you see this one for a decent price.

Now in 2001 the series had spanned a decade and half. I would say that we can look back favourably on Gauntlet Dark Legacy. It had kept the Gauntlet name alive through dark times. However, there was not an obvious route for the series to go now. The classic era had produced arguably the finest games in the series whilst the Legends era via Dark Legacy had shown off a decent 3D variant of the game.

It wouldn’t be until 2005 that adventurers would once again pick up a new Gauntlet game. Join me next time as we begin the final leg of the Gauntlet story as we step in to the modern era with Gauntlet: The Seven Sorrows.

The quest continues…

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