Games like Ninja Gaiden have done wonders for the aging hack 'em up genre, bringing old-skool gameplay into the new age with the excitement and flair you expect from a modern game.
Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows sticks its middle finger up at new ideas, though, and clings onto the old style like a granny refusing to chuck out her black and white TV. You choose your character from an enormous range of four: Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie and Elf. Then you run through level after level, smacking the crap out of the hundreds of goons spewing from every nook and cranny in the scenery.
The attacks number four too - one for each of the main face buttons on the pad. You've got your hacking attacks, for breaking through an enemy's defence and cause damage even if they're blocking. Projectile attacks are great for hitting enemies at a distance, like the archers that ping arrows at you from the top of watchtowers and across canyons.
Launch attacks, which send your victims flying into the air, are some of the most satisfying. With ninja skills you can hyper-smash them a few more times before they hit the floor. Then, of course, you have your standard slash attack, the one that'll leave you with a sore right thumb and a broken A button by the end of the game.
Smacking the buttons in different sequences activates some really smart combos. Our favourite was the one where the Warrior slaps an opponent upwards, then chucks his axe at them in mid-air. Spinning and on fire, the axe chops them up and cooks their flesh before their lifeless body hits the ground. And they don't get up.
To cause even more devastation, Seven Sorrows gives you Mana, a power that allows you to perform special moves with a tap on the D-pad. These can be used to clear overpowering crowds, hammer bosses and smash enemy-spawning generators. You also have a screen-clearing Blast attack that completely destroys everything around you, and is the only way to, er, kill Death.
Yes, the near-invincible, life-draining Death dude is back too. He leaps out of treasure chests now and then and chases you around for a bit, sucking the soul out of your body. The Blast attack will sort him out in a jiffy, but that requires you to have a full Mana bar, which is always unlikely, so usually your only option is to run away like a screaming girl. It makes the opening of every chest a tense moment, but you can't leave them all closed because they contain two all-important items: gold and chicken.
As is the Gauntlet tradition, Seven Sorrows has more fried chicken outlets than Kentucky. There's a more involved upgrading system than ever before, too. As well as the standard experience points, you will be able to spend any gold that you find to get more powerful abilities. You'll start off with basic three-hit jabs, progressing to 20-hit hyper-combos that instantly shatter the bones of any victim you unleash your fury on. With every level you gain, you earn a point, which can be spent on boosting individual stats of your choice.
The announcer from the old games is back too. "RED WARRIOR NEEDS FOOD, BADLY" goes his booming voice, helpfully, when the red Warrior needs food badly. It's great to hear again after all these years and gives us a fuzzy glow of nostalgia.
But none of this has much impact on the way the game plays. Any additions just feel like a last-minute feature, tacked on for the sake of having some kind of improvement over the originals. Nevertheless, Seven Sorrows basically plays exactly the same as Gauntlet of old, except in 3D. And just like its ancient brother, it's crap in single player. Without any mates to help out, you'll find yourself being frequently overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies attacking you. And there's no one to hold off the hordes while you're trying to take out the enemy-spawning machines either.