Gauntlet: Dark Legacy
Release Date: May 1, 2001
MSRP: $39.99 (New) $19.99 (Used)
Platforms: Gamecube, Xbox, Playstation 2, Arcade

Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is an expansion of the original "Gauntlet Legends" on the Dreamcast, N64, and PS1, and it features roughly 20 new characters/classes, multiple new items, many different new regions, and enhanced sound and graphics. Originally conceived as an upgrade for the Arcade version of Legends, Dark Legacy was later ported to the Playstation 2 in 2001, and then later to the Gamecube and Xbox in 2002. While it is not well known and did not sell exceedingly well, there is a significant cult community associated with the game due to its unique art style, gameplay mechanics, nostalgia factor, and relation to the original Gauntlet series. The game itself is a mostly straight forward "Hack and Slash" adventure game with strong role playing elements, such as the ability to increase your character's Attributes, use magic, collect new items and weapons, and play in a fantasy settings with others.

Dark Legacy is set in a fictional universe with no apparent name or location. While there is only a loose story throughout the game, the main plot goes something like this...

"In an ancient time, the evil mage Garm, using the power of the Runestones, released a great evil upon the land. This demon, Skorne, broke free of Garm's control, crushing him and imprisoning his soul in the underworld. Skorne then released his minions upon the land, and scattered the Runestones across the Eight Realms, so that they might never again be assembled and used against him.

No one has dared try. . .

Until now."
                                                 - The game's opening sequence

The idea behind this entire story being that you (and whatever friends you bring along for the ride), are the so-called, "Chosen one(s)" who are sent on a quest, with the aid of the good wizard Sumner, to find the 12 Runestones throughout the land and defeat the evil Skorne once and for all.

As previously mentioned, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is part of the long-running "Gauntlet" series of games by Midway, and shares a strong, notciable bond with previous titles in the series. The overall gameplay revolves around the absolute destruction of all enemies and obstacles in the player's path in their goal to reach the end of a given level.

When one begins the game, they will first pick a character. Among the playable characters are the Knight, Wizard, Valkyrie, Archer, Jester, and more. Each of these characters is unique not only in look, but in abilities and attributes.

Once the player picks their character, it's time to go upon their quest. At the beginning of the game, the player is taken to a hall of sorts, where there are multiple "gates". Each of these gates leads to a realm with many portals in it. Each portal takes the player to a different level. There are about 8 realms in all, with 5 to 6 levels each. While there are many realms and areas to explore, each of the individual levels are totally unique. They usually share a similar theme among themselves depending on the realm that they are in, but they themselves have unique layouts, monsters, treasures, and secrets. This"portal access" system, whereby the player can enter a realm/area at will, allows for replaying of levels at any time they please.

Within all of the levels, which range from haunted towns and icey mountains to firey volcanos and grassy knolls, there are items and treasures to collect. One of the main goals of Gauntlet, in fact, is to get as much loot as you can, so that you can buy upgrades for your character, and you'll find loot not only from enemies, but also from exploring the levels, as they are mostly open-ended, and discovering secret areas, rooms, and chests located throughout.

Loot is only one aspect of the gameplay in Gauntlet however. In addition to finding loot, one of the main draws of the game is increasing your character's power over time. Each time that you hit an enemy, you will be rewarded with "Experience". Once you earn enough Experience, your character will level up and gain increased Attributes, such as Strength for attack power, Speed for movement and attacks, Defense for endurance and health, and Magic for casting spells. In addition, however, every (roughly) 10 levels, your character will change in appearance, gaining more sturdy armor and weapons among other things, and also change title. For example, while you may start out as a Knight, over time you will increase your rank to titles such as "Paladin" or "Defender", and in an obvious homage to the previous games, upon reaching the maximum level of 99, ALL characters will receive the title "Legend".
Matt's Thoughts

You know, about two years ago, I was working at a pool as a Lifeguard, and I brought my laptop with me because it supposed to rain that day, and I thought I might have to go into the poolhouse. So, indeed, it rained. I went into, sat all lonely by myself with my laptop as I watched the rain pour down on the admittedly unclean pool (my bad), and I decided, "Hmm, let's look up RPG's". So, me and my laptop's WiFi got to work. I searched and searched for a great hack and slash RPG on many different consoles, ranging from 360, to Dreamcast, and finally to Gamecube. I ended up seeing an article about Gauntlet: Dark Legacy on Gamespot, so I checked it out, and that's when I became hooked.

I'll be the first one to tell you- it's not a great looking game, it's not very deep, the sound quality is of an N64 persuasion, and the AI is as dumb as bricks. But you know something? It honestly doesn't bother me. I can play a game like Fallout 3, and the choppy animations bug the hell out of me, then I go play Gauntlet: Dark Legacy and think nothing of it.

I think this is because of the way Gauntlet looks, and it's honestly the biggest deciding factor in me liking this game. Gauntlet: Dark Legacy has this nostalgic, cheesy, yet intriguing art style of over-the-top fantasy settings, filled with colorful, dank, ruinous areas to explore and visit. It's like being transported into the ultimate campy RPG experience. Cheesy heroic dialogue, mountains of stupid enemies to slaughter, valorous deeds, and female mages with HUGE titties- ahhh....Everything, just so corny, yet fantastic. I don't know what there is about it, but something is just magical to me. I play the game, and I get taken back to simpler days, days without worry, all because of this vivid and vibrant set of aesthetics. I can't even describe how everything looks. In fact, the only way I could describe it is: it's Gauntlet.

But don't think the art style is all there is to this game. Personally, I really just like the gameplay. Okay, okay, it's pretty repeatative. But isn't every game, if you think about it? Shooting game- shoot, shoot, shoot. Platformer- jump, jump, jump. Gauntlet? Kill, kill, kill. That's what it's all about. If you're looking for a game with immense depth to it, then Gauntlet and, to be honest, 90% of all games won't fit your criteria. But Gauntlet doesn't try to be deep, it just tries to be fun. The game is about getting together with your buddies, hacking away at some baddies, collecting some treasure, and then progressive to the next level to do it again. And personally, in a world filled with overly dramatic, grayscale shooting games, I think the colorful and cheesy look and gameplay of Gauntlet makes it a diamond among the sand.
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is notorious for providing many different cheats, secrets, and unlockables. Below are some of these such secrets:

Cheats (activated by entering them as the character's name):

INVULN    Invincibility
QCKSHT    Throw quickly
XSPEED    Run Faster
SJB964    Play with 2 Scythes
000000    Invisibility
PEEKIN    X-Ray Vision
SSHOTS    Super Shot with Long Crossbow
DELTA1    Shrink Enemy and Growth
1ANGEL    Anti-Death
PURPLE    Full Turbo
EGG911    Pojo the Chicken
REFLEX    Reflect Shot
MENAGE    Tripple Shot
CSS222    Regular Clothes and Baseball Bat
ALLFUL    Full Potions and Keys
10000K    10k in Gold
SKY100    Wizard as an Alien
GARM99    Wizard as Evil
GARM00    Wizard as a Lich
DES700    Wizard as a Pharoah
SUM224    Wizard as Sumner
CAS400    Warrior in Ogre Clothes
MTN200    Warrior as Orc Boss
RAT333    Warrior Wearing a Rat Hat
CEL721    Valkyrie as a Cheerleader
TWN300    Valkyrie as Death
AYA555    Valkyrie as a School Girl
STG333    Knight In Street Clothes and Bald
BAT900    Knight as a Centurion
SJB964    Knight in Black Karate Suit
DARTHC    Knight in a Black Outfit
TAK118    Knight as a Ninja
RIZ721    Knight as a Quarterback
ARV984    Knight in Street Clothes
DIB626    Knight in Street Clothes and a Hat
KAO292    Knight as a Waitress
KJH105    Jester as a Stick Figure with a Cap
PNK666    Jester as a Stick Figure with Mohawk
STX222    Jester as a Stick Figure with Smile
NUD069    Dwarf as a Gimp
ICE600    Dwarf as a Large Jester

Unlockable Characters:

Falconess    Beat the hatch with the Dungeon of Torment inside.
Hyena    Beat the hatch with the Haunted House inside.
Sumner    Beat the hatch with the Battlefield Trenches inside.
Medusa    Beat the hatch with the Ghost Town inside.
Jackell    Beat the hatch with the Temple of Magi inside.
Minotaur    Beat the hatch with the Dappet Peak inside.
Tigress    Beat the hatch with the Ancient Tree inside.
Ogre    Beat the hatch with the Arctic Docks inside.
Unicorn    Beat the hatch with the Toxic Spire inside.

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