Remakes. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are coming around like recycled garbage. What I am getting at is that there seems to be a lot of games being remade nowadays and this includes old Atari and arcade games. But then this is nothing new as this has been going on for generations of consoles. Pong, Pac-Man, Spyhunter, Splatterhouse, and many others highlight this trend. Go on. Have a look at Amazon.com whenever you get a chance or even Gamestop, EB Games, or eBay. You’d be surprised beyond words at the amount of remakes there have been. And not all of them are good. Some are or could be so bad (too many that I haven’t played because, you know, life gets in the way) that they make playing with garbage sound like fun. In the event of it being something so bad that it is a maggot ridden cesspool or worse (and believe me when I say there have been a few), they would cause one to panic like Grunkle Stan of the show Gravity Falls when he realises that the town is celebrating it’s origins by living like their ancestors for a day. For those of you that don’t know what that even feels like or haven’t experienced a town historical day, it plays out as follows :
*Stan squints as he raises his hand to his eyebrows as if to shield his eyes from the sun*
Grunkle Stan: Why is it all…? Covered wagons…? Oh no…NO NO!
*Slams the gearbox of the car into reverse, tuns the car around as quickly as he can and races the car through the streets*
Grunkle Stan: NOT TODAY! NOT TODAY!
*Nearly hits some of the revelers, then jams the car once again into reverse and races the car backwards as fast as he can*
Dipper: *worried* Grunkle Stan, what’s going on?
Grunkle Stan: *full of panic and fear* We’ve got to get out of here before it’s too late!
*While racing the car in reverse, he has to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting some of the wagons in the town center and has nowhere to go after that.*
Grunkle Stan: They’ve circled the wagons! We’re trapped! NOOOOOOOOOOO!
Well, badly remade games don’t create EXACT situations like that but the same panic/fear is there and all too real! Also, this is kind of what going through a town hell bent on trumpeting its own history is like. Hell on Earth, the apocalypse, and so forth. I can understand learning from history is to prevent future mistakes but I’m also afraid I may have seen another side to this phrase. People are now being INSPIRED by history and trying to repeat it. If this is the case, then learning the history of anything is now a double edged sword. Imagine some people being inspired by the worst of humanity of yesteryear and then trying to copy that…yeah. A frightening thought, isn’t it? History repeating regardless of whether we learn from it or not. Anyways! Getting off topic again and back to the review!
The worry of “I loved this game when I was younger. They might’ve screwed it up!” or “I hope they don’t change the best elements that made this game good originally” perplexes our mind constantly. At least for those that have played the originals. But that’s just it. You don’t KNOW until you have played them and the anticipation kills you slowly from the inside like acidic deterioration! But whether it is a bad remake or if it is just bringing back a bad game in its original form is like participating in a s&*#^y lotto where the prize you win might be $1,000,000 but the chances of that are like astronomically against you. Say 0.0000000000000000000001% chance of winning.
But let me put it to you that you may rest assured and sleep soundly at night. This Gauntlet remake is not just a simple rehash and certainly has added a lot to its playability. I should know since I owned the original Gauntlet on the NES when they only had two player support. That was before they released the second game and released the NES multi-tap adaptor to allow up to four players to play at the same time. ‘Bout time that the NES finally got the four player action like the arcade versions had allowed you to do right from the beginning. All right, that’s enough about the Bronze Age of video gaming history with Gauntlet!
Gauntlet certainly isn’t the most overly complex story or even the most surprising. Morak, a wizard of some description, has demonstrated his power by summoning the Gauntlet from the astral plane into the mortal realm and wants some amusement. So your chosen character (there are four to choose from and each plays uniquely different from the others) tries to go as deep into the Gauntlet as possible, hopefully making it through to the end. Each character has a different motivation for taking on the gauntlet. The barbarian wants to add to his epic “legend”, the Wizard wants acquire powerful magical knowledge, the valkyrie wants to find the leader of their tribe , and the elf just wants to pillage the riches that reside in the Guantlet. But regardless of who you choose, you have to collect the three pieces of the Sword of Tryfing and bring it back to Morak. That’s all there is to it.
What the game does extremely well are the controls. They are responsive and tight and even better, each of the characters play styles all feel completely fresh and unique from each of the other characters. The barbarian is good at tearing through hordes of enemies with his brute strength. Meanwhile, the wizard can combine magical properties to create unique spells. What I mean is that you can insert a command string of two or more magical elements and that results in a magic spell. You then use the right analog stick to aim and fire the spell. There is no mana bar so you can keep firing at will but do keep in mind that some of the spells (particularly the more powerful ones) will have a recharge time. So once you fire, start killing enemies with other unlimited/lesser spells until it recharges (like WoW and other MMOs). I will admit t that this is the most annoying character to play because of having to switch spell commands constantly by putting in element combinations quickly. This is not well suited to some of the frenetic sequences you have to battle through. But the best comparison of the wizard’s play style is to compare it to Magica and Magica 2. It is virtually identical in the spell casting and firing department.
Anyways, the valkyrie has the use of a shield and can use it to reflect/defend against projectiles, a spear to dash in a straight line through enemies for a short distance, and a sword slash for tearing through hordes of enemies (the most versatile character in my mind). Then there is the elf, who is the fastest moving of all the characters. He not only has access to the bow and arrow as his normal attack but he also can evade by diving away or through enemies. He also has access to bombs with a slight detonation delay. His arrows fire in a style similar to The Real Ghostbusters arcade game back in the day. If you don’t know that, then think of Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime for a more recent reference. That is, one stick to move the character and the other to fire their weapons. The elf’s arrow fire in the same manner. He was fun to play despite having the lowest attack power of all. But his bombs make up for it though and evading traps and enemies with the dive roll was fun as well. All the characters have a super attack that requires one potion (and each one has a unique ability with this as well). So be prepared to adjust your play style to the abilities of the character you choose, know their strengths and weaknesses, and remember them for when you go into a vicious competitive game of Gauntlet. Like I said, in this game, you can be either helpful or competitive. Or the lesser known “accidental competitive” when you accidentally shoot food that someone needs because they are about to die. I can only imagine the real life hostilities that occurred because of those accidents in games of this nature (I am only presuming at this point because so many people must’ve played multiplayer with this by now)!
I almost forgot! You can even purchase equipment, items, and other things in between levels using the gold you collect from the levels. The weapons change your attack abilities (except the basic attack), items bestow you with additional boots/benefits, and you can customise your hero with the purchased robes, helmets, belts, etc. But this is only limited to the equipment that your selected character can equip. You can tell just by looking at their outfits what they can and cannot equipment. They won’t do much for you other than change the appearance so investing in the weapons and relics (which give you additional benefits) would be the focus early on. I mean they are essential to the gameplay and I would dare compare their necessity like clean air for breathing. Ah well…
So in the end, I am proud to announce that this game is one of those “WORTHY” remakes. Wish I could give the studio a big frickin’ sticker the size of the building to put on their building to let people know that they succeeded! So instead, I want to give them a crown for a job well done! It captured the essence of Gauntlet in a way I thought would be hard to do but Arrowhead has done an excellent job and exceeded my expectations! I admit that I was cautious (and had set the bar very low) but they certainly proved that worthy remakes are possible. Keep up the good work Arrowhead and I hope to see some more good remakes or heck, hope that they will be brave and try to do something new as well. I wait with abated breath for your next fun game!
I give this game 8.5 shields out of 10 (mostly because I keep “accidentally” neutralizing food in the game. A single-player game no less!) At any rate, I hope you all have had a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever and I hope you have a great New Year as well!