|Gauntlet - 20081999120000 by Shadow Lord
If we were to build an Arcade Game Hall of Fame, I think few would contest me
when I say we would need a mural of Thor, Kyra, Merlin and Questor fending off
hordes of grunts, ghosts and demons.
Gauntlet is an arcade classic in every sense of the word, and opened the doors
to the world of simultaneous, cooperative play for thousands of arcade games to
come. I remember the days of elementary school, where I would go out Friday Night
to Pizza Hut, bringing my whole allowance, and me and my friends would battle
through mazes till the restaurant closed!
In the old days, if a fellow slapped you across the face with a gauntlet (a heavy
glove) and threw it at your feet, that meant he was issuing you a challenge. If you
picked up the gauntlet and handed it back, it meant you accepted the challenge.
So, you pick up the metaphorical gauntlet when you drop a quarter in the slot, and
you accept a challenging task indeed: the levels go into the hundreds, and monsters
are progressively tougher and more numerous.
This is not just a shoot-em-up romp (although that is a big part of it :P), but a
strategic game: choosing places to "dig in" and fend off the incoming army, when
to use the potion, and yes, to do the other player in if he is consistantly shooting
potions and food!
Choosing the character is also strategic: Questor the Elf is very fast and has
an incredible rate of fire, but his hand-to-hand sucks and his shots do little
damage. Thor the Barbarian has devestating firepower, and is excellent at hand-to
hand, but is ponderously slow, has a slow fire rate, and can't use magic very well.
Merlin the Wizard excels at magic use, but takes more damage than any other
character. Kyra the Valkyrie is the best all-around medium. While she excels at
nothing, she also lacks in nothing.
Who can forget standing around the large, four-player console? Who could forget
the famous "box strategy?" Most of all, who can forget conversations like these:
Console: "Red Warrior shot the food..!"
Green Player: "YOU JERK!! I needed that!!"
Red Player: "Damn man, well come take some of these Grunts off of me!!"
Blue Player: "Don't shoot that potion guys... PLEASE..."
Console: "Merlin... your life force.. is running OUT!"
Green Player: "Yo! Red! Get the lead out, we can't move on till you get over here."
Red Player: "I'm comin, I'm comin.."
Blue Player: "Anyone got a key?"
Yellow Player: "Damn! I died... lemme go get some more change.."
-sigh- the good ol' days. Well, the MAME emulator captures this one pretty well: the
sprites are all faithful, and the gameplay is the same. However, using a keyboard, to play
a game where speed and fancy footwork makes the difference, can be a hinderance. You would
need a well-equipped system indeed to have four people able to play this game comfortably.
The sound is my only complaint. The speech is terrible, and the sound effects are sometimes
chopped and distorted. Otherwise, I can now fulfill a childhood fantasy: play Gauntlet, the
REAL Gauntlet, and start out with 10 billion life points! If you have a two controller system,
play it with a friend: the real treat to playing Gauntlet was always the cooperative play.