|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