As one of the lucky millions who can vividly remember the "Golden Age" of gaming in the early eighties, I have discovered that certain archaic sound bites are permanently etched in my memory. In the middle of a perfectly normal workday, I'll suddenly start humming the cutesy theme track of Burger Time. Or I'll be strumming a guitar and miraculously reproduce the 'wocka wocka' of Pac-Man eating some dots. Is that wind and rain outside, or is it that cheering sound from Intellivision Baseball?
But to this day, no aged sound bite brings a smile to my face like a hunger-driven mantra from days past, a rumbling from the pit of a warrior's stomach, an urgent plea for sustenance else all hope is lost and another quarter be sacrificed....
"Elf needs food, badly."
If you're confused, then you have certainly never played Gauntlet, the first truly cooperative multi-player arcade game. Set in a dungeon and supporting up to 4 players simultaneously, Gauntlet raked in a ton o' dough. In an effort to bring the Gauntlet style of gaming into the new era, Monolith gives us Get Medieval, a tongue-in-cheek recreation of the 80's dungeon masterpiece.
Get Medieval basically takes all of the gameplay and graphical elements found in Gauntlet and turns them up a notch. You can choose one of four characters: Eryc the Archer (Elf), Kellina the Avenger (Valkyrie), Levina the Sorceress (Wizard), and Zared the Barbarian (uh...). Each character has specific strengths and weaknesses -- Zared is strong but slow, while Eryc is weak but quick. As in Gauntlet, the character balance plays a big role in the multi-player aspect and adds strategy to an otherwise strictly arcade game.
One of the biggest problems with Gauntlet was the complete lack of a plot. In fact, you could play the game for years and never reach an ending - it seems they forgot to make one. Realizing that this kind of monotony won't satisfy today's gamer, Monolith threw in 'Dragon Quest' mode. Here you attempt to progress through 40 levels of dungeons, complete with boss characters, until a final confrontation with Daramil, the evil Great Dragon who rules the dungeons and engulfs the kingdom in flame every so often.
Gameplay is pretty much identical to Gauntlet. You run around in a top-down view hurling your weapon at monsters, collecting treasure, power-ups, keys, scrolls, and of course, food. Well, not exactly food - more like little buckets of blood that replenish your life. Same idea, anyway.
The number of monsters in these dungeons is immense, thanks to those pesky monster generators. Yep, they're back too, and you better make sure to wipe 'em out if you want to permanently kill off some of the beasties. Speaking of which, there are 20 creature types and 8 bosses (one every 5 levels), significantly more than in Gauntlet.
Graphically, Get Medieval seems to know its place. All characters are well animated sprites - no polygons whatsoever. There are some nifty little lighting effects and color filtering, such as sparks and explosions. The framerate is pretty high and the game runs smoothly. There's also a nice bit of gore when you kill things. Again, it really just looks like an updated version of Gauntlet -- nothing particularly new here.
The sound in general is good, with all the clinks and clangs you'd expect from a dungeon romp. The uber-scary voice that describes your exploits is great - "Devastation...mwahahaha!" Very dark and brooding. Hehehe. On the downside, I noticed some weird bugs when trying to play the FMV movies - sound skipping and what not. This is acknowledged by Monolith and will probably be fixed in a patch, but still, final products should be bug free.
The muliti-player element that made Gauntlet such a success is here as well, though with mixed results. There are a few ways to play with others - LAN, Internet, or on the same computer. The last one here is great. Just find a few friends, grab a few chairs, and cram yourself in front of the monitor. Up to 4 can play via 2 on the keyboard and 2 with joysticks. Since you're all at the same CPU, it flows effortlessly (albeit a bit crowded).
Playing over the Internet, however, is a bit more tricky. Unlike most new titles, connecting and playing online isn't as smooth as it could be. There's no 'gathering place' (i.e. dedicated server area) to find opponents. Instead, you have to know the IP address of whoever is hosting the game, or if you're hosting you have to give your IP address out to the other players. This means you have to know other people with the game, which in a way defeats the whole purpose. Surfing the chat rooms for other game owners is not the easiest nor most efficient form of multi-player gaming.
And when I finally did set up a game, the lag was pretty rough. Since Get Medieval is a quick twitch game, too much lag can be deadly. It's too bad, really, because Get Medieval is a lot of fun in a lag-less environment.
In all, Get Medieval is a nice update to a classic game. It understands its limits and accepts its fate with wry humor. If the multi-player element was more effective, this would have been a much better game. Any old timers out there with LAN access should definitely look into this one.
Remember the glory days of arcade play? Back when Dig-Dug and Moon Patrol kept us happily distracted for hours, and when Dragon's Lair had the most impressive graphics anyone had ever seen? Somewhere in your mental arcade of glory, there should be a group of people huddled around one of the first four player games released, Gauntlet, jamming the controller every which way and pounding furiously on the fire button.
Finally, somebody has filled the void left in my life since Gauntlet was surpassed by superior(?) multi-player arcade games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The X-Men. Monolith Productions has brought us Get Medieval, which is basically a rip-off (and I mean that in the best possible way) of the aforementioned old-school classic.
In Gauntlet, you either played the Wizard, Elf, Valkyrie or Barbarian, wandered dungeons rife with various and sundry baddies, ate a lot of chicken, got treasure, and flushed the whole crew through as many portals as you could before being consumed by the vicious hordes. In Get Medieval, you play either a Ranger, Sorceress, Avenger or Barbarian, wander amazingly similar dungeons full of monstrous legions, drink replenishing fluid from buckets, get treasure, and flush your team down portals to reach more dungeons. See the resemblance?
While the folks at Monolith obviously have their influences, they've made some great improvements on the game. First, the graphics are much better, especially when compared to previous home versions of Gauntlet (which didn't allow more than two players at a time), but the 3D doesn't really come off because of the bird's-eye view. Monolith also took liberties with what made Gauntlet so groundbreaking - the sound. In the old game, the Dungeon Master would make comments such as, "Wizard needs food, badly," and the characters would utter such profundities as "ouch" and "oof." Get Medieval also has a Dungeon Master voice to give advice, but the character dialogue is much better. The characters make wisecracks all through the intro animation, making fun of the villagers having their homes incinerated, and the quips keep coming all through the game.
Play is just like the old Gauntlet. You can still even shoot monsters through the diagonal walls. You view your character and the dungeons from above, and move in only two dimensions. There are monsters everywhere that you must kill, and little monster breeding stations to destroy. Gold and special artifacts litter the floors, and you collect these to power up your character. Each character has a different weapon, moves at a different speed, and has a finite number of magic attacks.
There are 40 levels to play through. You can play either random dungeons or a "Dragon Quest." The quest is built around the premise of the game: A dragon is terrorizing the countryside and the brave warriors are trying to get through the dungeons to kill him. There is also a level editor, so players can customize dungeons. Monolith has also made available on the Get Medieval website a program to allow players to build their own custom levels from scratch. These options give open up a lot of possibilities for gamers.
As with Gauntlet, the game is truly made for multiple players. The hordes of monsters are almost impossible to deal with solo. Up to three players can play on one computer, and there are configurations for playing over a LAN, the internet or a modem. The game works great with a joystick, and the keyboard controls are easy to get the hang of.
Get Medieval runs well, although I did occasionally encounter a bug that caused the game to shut down when loading a new dungeon. I couldn't figure out exactly what caused the problem, but it only happened three times over an intense two week playing period. Other than that, I didn't come across any bugs in how the game runs.
Overall, I'm very glad to have Get Medieval in my game collection. It's rare to find a title that is genuinely witty like this game, and new players pick up on it with ease. If you're an older gamer, it brings back the nostalgia of Gauntlet, and if you're a younger player who never got to experience the arcade classic, Get Medieval is necessary to know your roots. Now if somebody would just design a level with those classic chicken dinners...
The return of Gauntlet is here. With a new look and slick Monty Python humor. Fans of the Gauntlet Game will be pleased.
The setting for Get Medieval! Takes place on the outskirts of a town called Dirindale. The city has been laid to ruins, and the castle once belonging to King Aaron of Arrivus, have been overunned by a slew of creatures and one huge red dragon. The king has offered fame, fortune, and absolute power to anyone who can rid the castle of this evil and kill the dragon. There are four warriors who have offered to enter the fray, The Barbarian Zared, the Sorceress Levina, the Warrior Kellina, and the Archer Eryc.
The game features are set in place, and easy to use. It took me minimal time to set up my game pad, and figure out how to set the player up. The most impressive feature is the four-player set up. Four players can play on the same screen. And the multiplayer option is something to see too.
The Graphics in Get Medieval are so so. They're not to bad though enough for you to say yuck. There are some nice lighting effects and the character design is smooth. But still the graphics look SVGA, not quite the 3D look Monolith promised. Get Medieval still has a 2d feel to it; Monolith did a good job because this is a Gauntlet revision.
Hehe a smile comes to my face when I approach this section: Sound FX. This is because the each character has a few humorous one liners. For Example the Sorceress Levina saucy line "Oh I'm getting excited danger must me near!" Man I must have dropped to the floor laughing when I first heard this. It definitely keeps you amused during the game. The other sound effects of killing enemies could make ya lose lunch but its all good. Theirs no much I can say about the musical track, because it's fairly repetitive.
The Gameplay is Gauntlet's 2 oops I mean Get Medieval's strongest feature. As I mentioned before the four players on same screen rocks. The game stays true to authentic Gauntlet play, as the constant on slew of monsters keeps your heart going. Another thing take head you can shoot absolutely every thing. I'm not kidding you can shoot monsters (duh!) treasure chests, health potions, and about everything else I forgot. This begins to suck a little in the later levels when the monsters come in super swarms.
The final verdict, this is a game for all ages and skill levels. It is extremely easy to pick up on how the game is played shoot, move, and magic spell. Unfortunately there is only one magic spell but so what. Monolith has done a pretty good job of reinventing Gauntlet. Don't expect too many improvements over the classic game, but I'm happy to see the revamped classic.
People who downloaded Get Medieval have also downloaded:
Excalibur 2555 AD, Grand Theft Auto London 1969, Heart of Darkness, From Dusk Till Dawn, Grand Theft Auto, Half-Life, Evil Dead: Hail to the King, Gunman Chronicles (a.k.a. Half-Life: Gunman)
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