Imagine a game where up to four players are navigating a top-down maze. They are constantly threatened by monsters, traps, thieves, curses and continually declining health. Their only means of survival is to find an exit on each level while collecting helpful items like scrolls, health, keys and various enhancement.
Sound familiar? It should and it shouldn’t. I’m talking about Get Medieval by Monolith a great game out for the PC. But if you said "that sounds a lot like Gauntlet," give yourself half credit.
Let me make something clear. Part of the appeal of Get Medieval is due to the fact that it flashes me back to my college days. I met Gauntlet for the first time after several friends and I ran out to the local arcade. Between the five of us we dropped more than $100 that day. Four of us would be playing and the fifth was drafted to convert dollars to quarters on the fly. Even though it meant eating nothing but toast and iced tea for a week, it was money well spent.
Now I’ve been given the opportunity to relive that experience and I don’t even need my pal Stewie as a personal manservant this time. Get Medieval is a wonderful top down game that shares most of the design elements of Gauntlet while delivering better performance and action right to my desktop.
While it’s possible to play the levels randomly, I usually enjoy playing within a storyline so I stuck to the excellent "Get the dragon for revenge" plot that sets the tone for the standard game. Within the dungeons, gameplay presents the player with a top down view of the level with characters at the center and all hell breaking loose everywhere else.
While defending themselves with missiles and hand weapons, the player must solve puzzles and find keys while not doing anything stupid, difficult in my office sometimes, enough to set off a trap or get cursed. Of course, if you’re playing above the "easy" level you’re health continually declines unless you can find restorative potions.
Throw in giant "boss" monsters and weapon and armor enhancements and you’ve got a game that varies between manic violence and icy cold, calculated sharpshooting. Great fun!
Where Get Medieval really departs from it’s ancestor is its sense of humor. The designers have really made the characters come alive for players. Each of the four character types (Elf, Sorceress, Valkyrie, and Barbarian) have distinct personalities and motivations, along with some quirks, and are prone to making helpful – or not – comments during gameplay. Some of my favorites are when the Sorceress says "I’m going shopping!" after picking up some gold, or the ever tough Valkyrie exclaiming "If I were a man, I’d would now be frightened."
Each character has dozens of lines that can really throw you off your game through laughing. In addition, the same voice actors are used for the introductory sequence that wins my award for funniest use of a dragon in a game for 1998.
There are only a few problems with Get Medieval that stand in its way. First, the controllers require the use of two keys to move or shoot diagonally (no using the "7" on the keypad to move up and left) and when I tested it over the net I suffered some extremely bad lag.
None of these negative points prevent an individual from enjoying the game and, in fact, when played with two players on one keyboard the enjoyment was more than doubled. Again, it’s great fun all around.
Just make sure the machine you’re playing on doesn’t take quarters. It’s safer that way, especially if you don’t like iced tea.