Gauntlet (video game)
Gauntlet is a fantasy dungeon crawler and shooter developed and published by Atari for the arcade in November 1985 and later ported to a dozen other platforms. It is the first game in the Gauntlet universe. In the game, you control either a barbarian, elf, valkyrie and must run through various dungeons killing monsters, collecting treasure for points, and food for health. The game runs forever with levels being generated in a partially-random manner, so your only goal is to amass a high score.
This arcade game is also one of the few titles that did so well it was actually exported to Japan. Also, a port was made for the NES which includes a more detailed story, fixed levels, and a proper ending.
I first played Gauntlet in a hotel's arcade which was in the same room as their pool (a bad idea because, still wet from the pool, I kept shocking myself on the cabinet). My older brother played the game and thought it was awesome, and then recruited me to play it with him as a second player. I thought it was really cool, but neither of us lasted very long with only a single quarter. Years later, after learning more about the game, I'm less impressed with it. It seems the game was designed in large part just to drain quarters from kids. All the advertising says that, and even the game's creator described the game as such.
I own this game, and it is unbeatable. I've never recorded my scores or tried to get a high score.
- Overall: 4/10
- Best Version: Arcade
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game is a lot of fun when you first play it.
- I like the fantasy theme and game elements. Monsters, wizards, potions, keys, treasure, these are all very exciting.
- The game's graphics and art are quite impressive for 1985.
- The game keeps adding more variety as the levels progress. New monsters appear, new rules are implemented, etc.
- The hardware made great use of a speech synthesizer and contained a lot of speech. Much more than any game before it.
- The ability to play with 4 players simultaneously is great fun when you have a crew.
- The four playable characters offer a good amount of variety. If you like magic, you play the wizard, if you like brute strength, you play the barbarian, if you like speed, you play the elf, if you like defense, you play the valkyrie.
- Without an ending, players wander aimlessly until they eventually die. You're basically just dumping quarters in until you eventually run out of money or become bored, and there is no payoff other than a spot on the high score list. While this was typical of an arcade game of the time, it doesn't fit the game's theme.
- Simply playing the game causes you to die, as your health ticks down even if you're not in combat. This puts a limit on your life so that, no matter how good you are at the game, if you don't find food or successfully escape treasure rooms, you will still die. To make matters worse, there are enemies that are invincible (save potions) that do nothing but drain your life.
- The game is lacking any decent music.
- Although there isn't anything really wrong with the game, the futility of a game where you slowly die and have no chance of winning is depressing. For a game like Space Invaders, this is forgivable because it's so abstract, but it's all wrong for a fantasy game.