Evil Has Prevailed
I’ve been a fan of most of Hamster’s Arcade Archives releases on Nintendo Switch, games like Metal Slug and Super Baseball 2020 work well because their difficulty doesn’t hinge on how many quarters the player has in their pocket. Gate of Doom is an arcade re-release courtesy of Johnny Turbo’s Arcade and, unfortunately, it’s one that’s better left in an arcade cabinet.
In Gate of Doom, players take control of a knight, wizard, bard, or ninja as they battle demonic creatures in an attempt to close the titular gate of doom. The story, like in most arcade games, is simply a backdrop for the action. Sadly, that action is slow paced, clunky, and not all that difficult.
Each of the characters, except for the ninja, move around at a snail’s pace through Gate of Doom‘s linear, puzzle-less hack and slash levels. They each have their own unique attacks, and some, like the wizard and bard, are definitely more viable than others. The knight swings around a mace that I didn’t find to be particularly effective and the bard, naturally, has nothing to do with music. I found the wizard to be the most powerful as she can cast a huge wall of fire on whole groups of enemies, whereas the other characters have a much more limited reach.
All of the characters have access to magical abilities once a meter has been filled all the way. The spell that’s cast depends on what page a small book above the magic meter is on, and the book switches pages every few seconds. This can get a little irritating when the player is swarmed by enemies and the preferred spell to cast hasn’t come up yet.
Enemies themselves vary from zombies, dark knights, and other demonic abominations and they swarm the player from all directions. That, coupled with the irritating page-turning magic mechanic, was probably frustrating as hell in the arcade. Death comes swiftly and frequently in Gate of Doom, and it feels cheap a lot of the time. The Nintendo Switch version doesn’t make players insert a coin to continue after a game over, obviously, so players essentially have unlimited lives. Play continues right at the spot of death after a game over, so in the later levels where almost every inch of the screen was consumed by an enemy, I just walked forward as they tore me to pieces. I would get a game over, hit continue, and then just keep walking until I finally made it to the level’s boss. This tells me that even in the arcade, Gate of Doom is just a coin-grabber.
There are a couple neat visual options, at least. Gate of Doom allows players to play with all sorts of filters, including one with scan lines and one that resembles an old arcade cabinet’s screen. Bosses, although they’re simple encounters, have some decent designs — one was a frightening giant eye, another was a twin-headed beast, and one was a gargantuan dragon.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Gate of Doom was provided by Flying Tiger Press.