Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

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Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by MMohammed » Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:03 pm


Gauntlet is a hack-and-slash classic that turned the concept of a dungeon into a chance for multiplayer mayhem. In fact, it was originally called Dungeons, debuting back in 1985 as an arcade game from Atari. Gauntlet was designed by Ed Logg, whose track record includes titles such as Asteroids and Centipede. For quite some time, it was also only available as a four-player cabinet.

The goal in this game was to find the exit of each level. Played from a top-down view, each level came with an assortment of items - these ranged in effects from destructive magic and gaining points to increasing your character’s health.

The characters in this game were referred to simply by their class. On-screen, each player would be controlling a Warrior, Valkyrie, Wizard, or an Elf. As for the enemies, there were plenty: ghosts, demons, thieves, sorcerers, and grunts. Each of these monsters appeared on the screen via specific generators which could also be destroyed. The deadliest enemy was, appropriately, Death and it could only be defeated via the use of a magic potion.

The game progressed to emphasise two things: skill and cooperation. Each level made it more important for all of the players to work together - tactically fighting monsters, sharing food and other items, etc. That sense of teamwork is made even more important when you consider that each player’s health drains on its own (without enemy contact) as the game progresses.

Speaking of which, a player who dies can also be regenerated by inserting a coin. Interestingly, the designers balanced this ability to theoretically play without end (if you had the coins) by dividing each player’s final score by the number of credits they used.

Gauntlet was hugely successfully from the get-go, amassing monster figures in just the first few months of its release. It would go on to sell 7,848 arcade cabinets and won Game of the Year in 1986’s Golden Joystick Awards.

Check out the Retro Gamer post on this essential dungeon crawler here:

Gameplay: Players controlled one of four available characters, each of which had its own strengths. The Warrior was great at close range combat, the Wizard was good with magic (duh), the Valkyrie had the strongest armor, and the Elf was the fastest.

Play: It’s all about teamwork here. Going at it solo was always an option, but you’d get farthest (and have the most fun) by working with other players as a team.

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Re: Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by NorthWay » Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:54 am

This is an _amazing_ game. In some ways it kinda follows the sandbox style of emergent gameplay; you just plonk down some generators or monsters and throw in a number of obstacles and then it goes on to live its own life.
And I was never really happy with the home computer versions (of which I had C= 64 and Amiga myself) - even the Amiga version had the wrong palette on some levels IMO.
The C= 64 version was an out-of-this-world clever hack for animating a whole screen full of mobs in something like 5 instructions. The CPC could have had background graphics instead of just blank space - someone should do a modern update to make the rest of us 8-bitters envious.

The ignoramus part of this is ofc that I actually had a full 4-player cabinet in my old hometown at the time, but I was playing Marble Madness instead...

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Re: Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by Crusty Starfish » Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:31 am

I loved Gauntlet on the C64 and the Amiga!

Back then as a school kid, the arcade version would eat too many coins, eating into game buying money!!! So rarely actually played in the arcades.

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Re: Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by Matt_B » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:45 pm

Nothing beats playing as Questor the elf and nicking all the treasure.

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Re: Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by SpecChum81 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:58 pm


Another timeless, all-time favourite!

I always played as either Thor or Merlin mostly and still do whenever I fire this up on the emulator!

An adorable game and who could forget that immortal piece of advice - Warrior needs food, badly...
Press Play On Tape

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Re: Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by GarryG » Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:51 pm

Good to play on the original four player arcade table.

This originally evolved from a home-brew game called 'Dandy Dungeon,' go check it out...
Why not visit my ramblings at Garry's Gaming Blog

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Re: Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by paranoid marvin » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:44 am

The only way to get much fun out of the game was played with 2 (or better 3 or 4) players. It was essentially a timer-based game, and no matter how good you were , the only way to get far was to pump lots of coins in; this was never a 1 credit game! There wasn't that much variety to the gameplay, and although new things were introduced, things never changed too much (this was all massively improved upon in Gauntlet II). Despite that , it was still enormously fun game to play back in the day, although without the arcade surroundings and 3 mates around the cab with you, modern emulation simply doesn't do this game the justice it deserves.
It did lead to some great clones though, and Into The Eagles Nest on the Speccy and Alien Breed on the Amiga were amongst the best.
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Re: Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by keedor » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:43 am

I remember playing Gauntlet very much and first saw it while visiting family at Skegness one year.

This became the highlight of our holiday as it was the only game in the arcades that my brother, sister, cousin and myself could all play together.

Fortunately we soon learned that the game was better - and our coins lasted much longer - if we all worked together!

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Re: Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet

Post by 4cade » Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:24 am

Man, this game was awesome - it was a joy to go to the arcades with a few buddies and suddenly realize A) Gauntlet was there, and B) all the friends wanted to play so you could go full on co-op mode! (so often when me and my buddies got to the arcade, there was a bit of a scatter, some might play some 2p games but often we'd go to different games). I would definitely like to play this again

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