“Do you know what the riddle of steel is? It is not the strength of a blade, but the hand, the flesh and the heart that wields it!”
During a time of mostly two player arcade games, Gauntlet, from Atari, took idea from the well known fantasy adventure game ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ and turned it into a classic multi-player arcade game. With one to four players, in the guise of a warrior, an elf, a valkyrie and a wizard, the scene is set for an epic adventure sprawling across myriad mazes and labyrinths, filled with demonic hordes from the darkest corners of the underworld.
Upon selection of a character, each possessing varying skills, shot power and magic abilities, The dungeons are entered. Haunted catacombs filled with wraith’s and ancient treasure chests, the dynamic is to collect an abundance of coins and clear the halls of denizens. beginning simply, an eight way directional joystick gives movement with a fire and magic button to assist in the quest. Little instruction is needed as the experience invites you to delve ever deeper toward the many levels and find the illusive exit, thus escaping to the next level.
Keys, keys play a… ‘key’ role in unlocking gates and doors to infiltrate rooms and obtain the many bonuses in the form of potions, which will obliterate a number of foes on the screen, depending on the magic ability of the character chosen, food and barrels of ale, which once collected revitalise a constantly ebbing life force which adds to many a…”disscusion” on who should claim the food first, leading to one the many interactive features of the game.
“Remember, don’t shoot food!”
As with any creature infested dungeon, there comes a point where the sheer number of enemies increase as more progress is made giving rise to more deadly opponents in the form giant club wielding grunts, fire-breathing demons and rock lobbing goblins, each spawning from generators providing ethereal power to reinforce their numbers to continue the fight to thwart your progress, destroying these generators is paramount as swarms of enemies fill the corridors and rooms of the lair, so make haste, use tactics, teamwork and courage as the adventure continues to expand.
Many surprises and traps, will be encountered on your path so tread wisely, always keeping an eye out for the dreaded ‘Death’, a fiendish caped figure drain the life of any hero it comes into contact with before disappearing into a cloud of smoke to find its next victim, unless of course someone has saved a potion to dispatch the reaper back from where it came. Cleverly, after the first ten set levels are complete, be it from shortcut exits or sheer bravery, the labyrinth generator randomly throws new levels in different orders, making every quest different from the last thus making the game never the same twice, keeping players coming back for more.
So stock up on provisions, raise your sword and delve deep into the mysterious halls of doom to become legend!
Review by Rob Joy.