Tag Archive: Dungeon Crawler

Ray needs remake…badly

While it hasn’t had nearly as many remakes as some of its arcade brethren over the years, Gauntlet still holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts. EGM even listed the beloved “needs food…badly” quip as the No. 3 greatest videogame line of all time back in 2002. Now, Warner Bros. has secured the rights from Midway after the latter went bankrupt (and after Midway acquired the rights from Atari in the same manner), and they’ve tapped Swedish developer Arrowhead Game Studios—best known for 2011’s Magicka—to bring the series back for a modern audience.

Obviously, tailoring Gauntlet for younger gamers means some changes. I’m going to brace myself, because this is where the old-school trolls start licking their chops. But there’s actually not that much of a difference here from what arcade junkies know and love. The most immediate change you’ll notice is that you don’t continuously lose health anymore. This forced “time limit” was originally designed as another way to suck down your stack of quarters, and it would probably just piss a lot of people off nowadays. This new Gauntlet isn’t a cakewalk by any means, though. While before you’d pump in more quarters in order to revive yourself, now you need to spend the gold you find in levels.

This works because a lot of modern games have put less of an emphasis on score. It also means this remake has its own skill-based life limit in line with the spirit of the original game. An extra nuance is that when playing cooperatively, all the gold is communal, so if you have a friend who really sucks, all that extra gold you risked your life for may not be there when it’s your turn to finally kick the bucket.

Another interesting thing about gold is that it’s not used to buy weapons like in later Gauntlet ports. Instead, you get new weapons and items by finding “relics” in levels, which then give you special powers like an ice blast or better speed. As you find more and more relics, you need to make some tough choices. You’ll keep them forever, but you can only carry two at a time into a level and can’t spam them because of a recharge meter.

Beyond this, the 4-player hack-n-slash co-op action you know and love still feels a lot like it did back in the day. The four classes—Warrior, Elf, Valkyrie, and Wizard—return, but you can only have one on each team (no clones). You can choose to turn friendly fire on in order to add some extra griefing potential, but because of the communal gold, the game feels less like a competition and more like a true co-op experience, kind of like the Gauntlet Legends spin-off for the N64.

The game also features some classic dungeon designs. I played a level with an Egyptian-tomb motif that was filled with hundreds of undead mummies, and at the end, I faced off against a boss that looked a lot like Death. The classic top-down view is still present, and everything just looks like it’s received a modern coat of paint. I can’t deny that it was tons of fun to swing my Warrior’s axe while surrounded by dozens of foes.

My only real disappointment is the fact that this is currently a PC/Steam exclusive. I miss games where you could sit around a couch and play with a bunch of friends—and I don’t think of that when I hear “PC.” This feels like it’d be perfect for the Xbox One and PS4 with four controllers, but we’ll have to wait and see if Warner Bros. reconsiders after seeing how well Gauntlet does when it hits this summer.

Need a dungeon-crawling hero on your 3DS?

When gamers think of expansive dungeon-crawling action-RPGs, they tend to think of games primarily on the PC. And with the popularity of these titles as of late, it’s no surprise to see Square Enix throwing their hat into the ring, too. With the help of developer n-Space, they’ve given us a hack-n-slasher that still provides that sense of collecting loot, leveling up, fighting off swarms of bad guys, and teaming up with friends—but, in this case, it’s on the 3DS.

Heroes of Ruin tells the tale of a world ravaged by war until nearly all-powerful Lords rise up and broker a temporary peace. When Ataraxis—who happens to be a Sphinx and one of the fabled Lords who rules the city of Nexus, which also serves conveniently as a hub world—falls ill, heroes far and wide are called upon to find a cure. And, of course, in the process, they’ll also uncover a sinister plot.

From the start, you can choose from four classes. The Gunslinger is your standard ranged badass type; the Vindicator looks like Lion-O from ThunderCats and swings a massive sword like him, too; the Alchitect is your typical mage character; and the Savage is your brutish tank that likes to get his hands dirty. Once you choose your character, you can do some minor customizing before your adventure starts, but as you start to collect bushels of loot, your character’s look will definitely change further as your progress.

Once you actually begin your quest to save Ataraxis, you’ll quickly recognize that each character has stat sheets that basically translate to “attack,” “defense,” “magic,” and so on. You’ve also got several slots in which you can equip items to bolster these stats, ranging from torso and leg armor to belts, rings, and shoulder pads. You also have three different ability trees, and you can assign one from each to the three corresponding face buttons. If you’re like me and play as the Gunslinger, you’ll find you can throw flasks that act like flashbangs and stun enemies from one button, while you can perform a sweeping arc of fire from your guns to perform a large area-of-effect attack with another.

In terms of gameplay, this is indeed your basic dungeon-crawling RPG, and it does little to differentiate itself from the crowd. If you’re expecting something on the level of Diablo out of this top-down action-RPG, you’ll certainly be disappointed—but, of course, if you were actually expecting Diablo, you might also be certifiably insane. Heroes of Ruin looks nice for a 3DS game, but compared to what you can get on your PC, it obviously pales in comparison. The same goes for the audio, as the voice acting and music push the 3DS’ tiny speakers as far as they can go. I probably could’ve done without the enemies respawning every 30 seconds as well, considering the backtracking required to complete a lot of quests. At least this leads to quick leveling and more new powers, though. So, on the surface, little stands out in a positive way about Heroes of Ruin—though there are also very few outright negatives, either.

But there’s one aspect where the game really shines, and that’s in the social and multiplayer aspects. The game features seamless 4-player drop-in, drop-out co-op and the ability to perform daily challenges via SpotPass, which helps with leveling as well. The most impressive feature, though, is the use of StreetPass to access Traders Network, where you can swap items you pick up as you play. If you’re playing by yourself, this encourages you to be a little social, as you’ll accrue a lot of loot for classes you aren’t using. Instead of just quickly cashing that loot in for a few gold coins, you can get its full value or an item of equal or greater use if you put it on Traders Network.

Overall, Heroes of Ruin won’t disappoint fans of dungeon-crawling RPGs. In fact, it’s a solid effort for a 3DS entry considering the scale and scope of the adventure; the game really only falters from its lack of originality and the fact that anyone expecting more from the hardware will likely end up migrating back to their PC sooner rather than later. If you’re looking to kill a few hours with a hack-n-slash dungeon-crawler that shines brightest when it links up with three other 3DSes for 4-player co-op, though, this might be a good way to get your fix on the go.

SUMMARY: Heroes of Ruin is a pretty game by 3DS standards, with a compelling story wrapped around unoriginal combat, quests, and leveling. 

  • THE GOOD: Seamless 4-player drop-in, drop-out co-op
  • THE BAD: Unoriginal story and gameplay
  • THE UGLY: Never-ending streams of respawning baddies

SCORE: 7.0