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GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1-4
November 22, 2005

Gauntlet II

Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

Gauntlet: Dark Legacy

More in this Series
 Written by Glenn Wigmore  on January 26, 2006

Review: Classic corridor crawling makes its way onto the Xbox 360.

Gauntlet debuted back in 1985 in the arcades and it provided a quarter-popping experience that many still remember to this day. Of course, there have been many reiterations on the formula released over the years, but the original still holds up even after all this time. With the release of Gauntlet for the Xbox 360's Live Arcade service, the game receives a facelift in the form of slightly sharpened graphics and Xbox Live multiplayer. Are these changes enough to warrant checking it out? For five bucks, you bet it's worth a download.

The basic premise in Gauntlet involves a warrior, valkyrie, elf, and wizard who traverse 100 levels of corridor-filled dungeons that contain monsters of all kinds. The monsters spawn out of ?dispensers? all throughout the levels so you must kill the hordes of monsters guarding the dispenser in order to destroy it (and stop the onslaught). Most of the monsters are orcs, goblins or ghosts of some description, but you will also encounter ?death? once in a while ? he is only defeated with the use of a magic potion (which you pickup throughout the levels). The heroes attack by firing projectiles that represent their respective weapons (arrows, magic, axes, swords) and these can be fired at various speeds based on the proximity of the hero to a monster. You will also pickup keys to open many of the dungeon doors, plus portals will have to be used in order to gain access to certain areas. Each level has an exit that you must find, although some have multiple exits that can potentially warp you to higher levels.

Collecting treasure throughout the adventure is also important and this is the main way of increasing your score. When playing multiplayer matches, it will often be a race to see who can get the treasure first (especially in the treasure rooms).

Gauntlet really encourages you to keep moving, as the life of your hero/heroine will constantly be decreasing. This can be alleviated by food pick-ups, but you'll want to progress according to the heroes in your party, as some have better speed or attack power than others so they should be on point.

The game holds up relatively well in control and gameplay, however, the d-pad might be the optimal way of controlling the characters, as the corridors really only require movement in the four cardinal directions. The feel of the arcades isn't completely replicated with the Xbox 360 face buttons, either, but you can mash away on the A button or hold it down for continuous attack.

The 360 Live Arcade version of Gauntlet really picks up due to the 4-player online support, as four friends trucking through the many levels of the game can be a great night's entertainment. Like Smash TV, though, Gauntlet probably won't last you all that long, but it's good to play in bursts (and it still is only $5). The game doesn't lag at all, and you'll find setting up ranked or private rooms is pretty straightforward. Also included are leaderboards and achievements, and these both add some additional long-term value to the game. Try actually getting to level 100 ? tough stuff!

The visuals and audio in the game is retained from the arcade version, and you will actually notice a slight sharpening in some of the graphics because of the HD resolution provided for the game. This isn't really a big deal, but it's nice to see the classic graphics with a bit of stylized look (you can still play with the old graphics). The sound is pretty much intact; this includes the robotic voice mentioning that the ?wizard shot the food!? and so on.

Gauntlet pays homage to the original arcade title with some new multiplayer support and a couple of new features. It only costs $5 and will provide a throwback experience that many wanted to see from Xbox Live Arcade on the Xbox 360.

Bottom Line
Dropping five bucks on this arcade classic, which now has online support, is a pretty safe bet.

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