Gauntlet Legends, the remake of Atari's classic dungeon adventure, wasn't a particularly thrilling arcade game, and the Dreamcast port isn't any better. Plagued by tiring, boring gameplay and mediocre graphics and sound, Gauntlet Legends hardly does the Dreamcast or the original game justice.
Unlike the original game, there's something of a point to playing Gauntlet Legends. If you wait long enough before you press "start," a CG sequence will tell you about Skorne, the game's main bad guy. Skorne is a giant evil demon that scattered the world's powerful rune stones so that nobody would be able to use them against him. Fortunately, you're up to the task of collecting all the rune stones and eventually facing Skorne. To collect all of the rune stones you'll have to search through a excruciating number of levels, kill countless monsters, and put up with the game's mundane combat system.
The game consists of selecting one of several new characters - from dwarfs to warriors to jesters - then playing through a level and its bottomless reservoir of bad guys. Each level has a certain number of power-ups, switches, hidden rooms, and traps, along with strategically placed enemy generators that pump out the fodder at a breakneck pace. Once you've found the level's exit you can use the gold you've found along the way to upgrade your character's stats or buy power-ups. Unfortunately, there's never really anything that compelling to buy, and the item-management system on the Dreamcast version of Gauntlet Legends is nowhere near as good as that on the N64. You won't be able to save special items or even equip different weapons - you'll simply have to use the power-ups as soon as you get them. The combat system hasn't changed from the arcade version. You're still meandering about, opening doors, collecting treasure, and killing everything around you. And, just as in the arcade version, you don't even have to hit the attack button if you don't want to - it'll automatically strike enemies for you when you get close. This makes the game extremely one-hand friendly and takes the challenge of out playing. After level upon level of monotonous monster-killing, you're rewarded with having to kill a level boss who's not only tedious but who has way too much health.
While Gauntlet Legends has some pretty characters and backgrounds in it, some of the visual effects look horrible. Some of the enemy characters look poor and animate in an extremely choppy and unrealistic manner, and some of the background effects - like low-polygon trees and shrubbery growing close to detailed backgrounds - look extremely out of place. The lighting effects are mediocre at best, and most of the power-up effects are laughable. While this is definitely the prettiest version of Gauntlet Legends you'll find on a console, it doesn't look as nice as the arcade version did. The game's sound is a definite weak point. The soundtrack is boring and repetitive, and the sound effects don't do much to break up the monotony of the gameplay. The game does feature some speech but not in any important parts - such as in the CG sequences or when you're talking to another character. Instead the speech is all in the form of the godlike narrator that occasionally lets you know that "Green Warrior needs food badly!"
Regardless of whether the original Gauntlet game was compelling enough to warrant an arcade remake, the Dreamcast version of Gauntlet Legends is a subpar button-masher that's neither interesting nor nostalgic. There's no incentive to playing through the game's unnecessary number of levels, as the experience itself is unrewarding and the end result is disappointing. Unfortunately, this game is another piece of evidence that indicates that some classics should be left well enough alone.