Reviewer: James Leach
Any Capricorns in the audience tonight? Ah, there you are. Well prepare for a bit of a shock - how does it feel to know you're a Lord Of Decay? Mmm. Thought you'd be a bit surprised. But look on the bright side - it beats being a landscape gardener or a milkman, doesn't it? Let me explain why...
You see, once upon a time (in Gauntlet 3) there was this island (called Capra) that was being threatened by a bloke called Capricorn (the Lord Of Decay) For some odd reason, he'd taken it upon himself to unleash nasty awfulness upon the islanders unless they were very, very good and didn't fight with each other. Luckily, the people were pretty peace loving bods and didn't particularly want a war anyway, so all was groovy, hippyish and, in fact, rather wet. (Oi, watch it! Ed)
But to muck everything up, a race of aliens called the Velcrons suddenly appeared (so-called because they stuck to furniture and clothing), who managed to kick up a bit of a war, so now everything's is in complete turmoil.
And guess what? Yep, somebody big and brave's got to wander up to Capricorn's semi-detached castle and give him a jolly good hiding for what he's done. And that somebody is you (gulp!).
HEARD ANY OF THIS BEFORE?
Of course you have - and probably in 2 other games called Gauntlet that've been out before now. So why run through it all again? Well, basically because now you can do it all in isometric 3D. Hurrah!
And that not the only change. This time there aren't just the 4 characters to choose from, but 8. As well as our usual pals like Thor The Warrior and Questor The Elf we've also got the company of such dependable yokies as Petras the Rockman and Dracolis the Lizard Man. You've got to choose which one you want to play of course, depending on the particular range of armour, magic and fighting skills that you want to use, and then set off towards Capricorn's place. (Oh, and there's a 2-player option too.)
On the way, you'll travel through 8 kingdoms (or levels), one for each of the hero-type characters (so there's the ice Kingdom, the Sea Kingdom and all the others). What this means of course is that the game is just as enormous as it was before, only this time it's been compacted into sections as opposed to the 100 or so old 'floating' levels, (And there's also a ninth bit waiting at the end, in Which you get to confront Mr Cappy himself.)
The 3D system works beautifully, with the characters having full 8-way movement, staying pretty much in the middle of the screen whilst everything scrolls around them. It's not just a simple case of walking along in a straight line of course - you've actually got to find your way through the terrain to get anywhere, with arrows pointing out the way and the odd clue here and there giving you a bit of a helping hand. There's also food, magic spells and lots of other items to pick up, some of which (especially the nosh) can be protected by nasties, or booby-trapped (hur hur).
AND TALKING OF NASTIES...
There are absolutely loads even more than before! (Probably.) Some (like ghosts) appear everywhere, follow you around and are easy to kill, while others are particular to certain levels and include things like mummies, zombies and even venus flietraps. Eek!
But I could ramble on for hours about these nice little touches and stuff. (Please don't. Ed.) Basically Gauntlet 3 is, overall, an absolutely stonking game. It's not just that the look of it's changed - this time round there's an even greater range of puzzles to solve and, as I've said, monsters you've got to squish. It's huge, it's exciting and it'll take a jolly long time to complete (and even then you'll probably have missed a whole load of other features and locations!).
There is however one major quibble that I'd better mention before I pop off. The graphics are most definitely funky but at times they get totally bogged down by some extremely thick and heavy colours. (There's one particular tone of blue that swamps the screen in mugginess and makes it ridiculously difficult for you to tell what's going on.)
But that apart, it's thumbs up all round. Those who've had the pleasure of treading these paths before might not want to again (no matter how different the view!) but for newcomers (especially ones who like blasting monsters) it comes highly recommended.
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