Retro Gaming Spotlight: Gauntlet
Posted: 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.