Tag Archive: wizard

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.

Some mediocre abracadabra

Everyone loves the allure of magic and believing in the unbelievable. Typically, we know that it’s all really just illusion, but games give us a chance to suspend our disbelief a little further with fantastical characters and by immersing us in stories based in myth and legend. Well, Sony hopes that even after countless delays, that by putting a ‘wand’ in your hand with Sorcery and the PS Move, that you’ll be able to immerse yourself just a little bit further than ever before.

You play as Finn, an orphan taken in by a sorcerer named Dash and his cat familiar, Erline. When Dash goes off on some errands, Finn decides its time to have a little bit of fun of his own and breaks into Dash’s storehouse. There, he finds an enchanted wand and soon after the real antics ensue as what starts off as some simple childish hijinx, like turning sheep into pigs and pots into fishbowls, quickly turns into an epic quest to protect Erline, as she is not who she really seems to be.

I admit that Sorcery shocked me in a lot of ways. It’s very easy to just write off a lot of these motion-control gimmick based games as we’ve had a steady stream of disappointment from most every one of them for quite some time. But Sorcery succeeds in crafting a highly detailed world with interesting, well-acted characters and a bevy of ‘out of this world’ powers that can appeal to gamers of all ages and providing some actual depth. Even after the game’s countless delays since the PS Move’s launch though, there are still some serious problems with execution.

Although the game’s lack of a targeting reticule or lock-on system is intended to give you a sense of freedom in the somewhat linear world before you, all it does is lead to constant frustration. It is far too easy to mishandle your wand and fire off magical bolts of various natures in the complete opposite direction of your intended targets, even after later learning how to weave your elemental spells to create a volcanic wall of fire or an electrical storm. Often instead you’ll find yourself just running around in circles on the battlefield as you try to finally get the PS Eye to pick up your wrist movement just right in order to smack your enemies with some of these devastating spells. And when you add in that some enemies have rejuvenating lifebars, the fun can get sucked out of this game more quickly than you can say ‘hocus pocus’ due to poor controls.

When all is said and done though, Sorcery is easily one of the better PS Move games. But this is still not saying much and when placed side-by-side with various traditionally controlled RPGs or action-adventure games, Sorcery, like many gimmicky motion-based games, simply falls short due to the gimmicks that gave the game inspiration in the first place. If you’re desperate to shake the dust off of your PS Move or have children that won’t easily lose patience with the controls, Sorcery does provide an entertaining, although predictable, story for gamers to play through, but otherwise shouldn’t cause any money to magically disappear from your wallet in order to purchase this title.

SUMMARY:  The gimmick driven combat system holds Sorcery back, as fun quickly turns to frustration after each misfire from your wand. And this is a shame given the predictable, but charming story that Sorcery tries to tell through vibrant characters and the beautiful world they occupy.

  • THE GOOD: One of the more well-rounded PS Move games available
  • THE BAD: Too many basic short comings and control glitches to be anything of real note
  • THE UGLY: Talking cats just ain’t right

SCORE: 6.0

Sorcery is a PS3 exclusive.