Gauntlet 'The Official Conversion' has at last appeared. The main difference between the arcade classic and this version, is that US Gold have produced a game for one or two players - whereas up to four combatants can enter the coin-op arena.
The package comes complete with extensive instructions to help Gauntlet novices who didn't spend their formative years pumping coins into the arcade machine. The program is multi-load, with up to eight levels loading at a time.
To begin with, each player must choose one of the four characters, these are: Thor the Warrior, Thyra the Valkyrie, Merlin the Wizard, and Questor the Elf. Each has different levels of Strength, Armour and Magic Power. Strength determines how quickly a character can destroy opponents, Armour level determines the amount of damage a character sustains from a hit, while Magic Power affects the power of potions that are used. In a two player game, the pair of adventurers can work together, sharing the tasks between them and using their unique abilities to best effect.
The aim is to scurry around the spacious dungeons, blasting everything that moves and collecting as much food and treasure as possible. Keys must be found and collected so that locked sections of the dungeons can be entered and explored. While all this is going on, the exit to the next level must be located. Each dungeon consists of a maze of two-dimensional walls and doors, with exits to the other levels scattered about. At the start of each level a message details any special conditions that apply - for instance your shots stun your partner in some maze areas.
Characters begin with 2,000 health units, displayed on a counter at the bottom of the screen. Confrontations with the evil beings that inhabit the dungeons reduce health points, and death ensues when a character's health rating reaches zero. In the two-player game, a character can rejuvenate a dead partner, who reenters with a zero score.
The dungeons are full of guards and demons waiting to do battle with intruders. Generators located in the mazes continually produce dozens of deadly denizens - unless they are quickly destroyed. Characters can either shoot the enemy or enter into hand-to-hand combat, which usually scores more points - at the expense of the loss of more energy. Hordes of opponents tend to congregate together in sections of the maze, just waiting for you to turn a corner or destroy a wall so they can get at you.
Ghosts are the most common opponents and hit a character once, drain some energy and then disappear: hand-to-hand fighting is pointless with spooks. Lobbers are sneaky fellows, throwing rocks and other heavy items over the maze walls. Demons spray fireballs which sap energy very rapidly. Grunts are armed with heavy clubs and run up to your character buffing away repeatedly. Sorcerers use their magic to defeat you, making themselves temporarily invisible and immune to your shots. Death is the toughest guardian of them all and can only be defeated by use of magic - the best approach is to avoid him altogether.
Food and drink (some of which is poisoned) can be collected to restore health and boost your score. Potions found in the mazes have a range of effects - some act as 'smart bombs', while special potions confer additional fighting or shooting ability, increase your character's speed or improve magic power. All the collectable objects are picked up by walking over them, although potions can be shot, in which case their 'smart bomb' effect is reduced.
Points are awarded for each denizen despatched and for collecting objects. Every so often a bonus treasure room is encountered where the aim is to gather up all the treasure and escape before a time limit expires. Transporter pads appear on some levels, and stepping on one moves the player to another pad on the screen. As in the original game, some of the walls can be destroyed by repeated shots, while stepping on a trap makes a section of wall disappear.
Control keys: player 1/player 2 - 1/8 Up, Q/I Down, S/K Left, D/L Right, Z/M Fire, CAPS/SPACE Use magic
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: adequate
Graphics: inevitably, a bit small
Skill levels: one
Screens: 512 scrolling levels
'Gauntlet has turned out to be a much better game than any of its clones. The programmers have managed to capture a lot of the spirit of the arcade machine - this version is nearly as playable as the original and far cheaper. Graphically Gauntlet is pretty run-of-the-mill. The sound is generally lame, the tune is instantly forgettable and the effects are dull and infrequent. Don't be put off by these shortcomings - gameplay is where Gauntlet really picks up my marks: I could easily play it until the end. If you have been waiting for a decent game of this type to appear then I doubt that you'll find better.'
'Hey wow! The biggest arcade hit that I never saw hits the Spectrum. Yeuch! What puny little graphics; but WOW! - what a game! This is just what Spectrum owners need: a proper, involved two-player game. Despite the fact that I am against most multi-load systems, it's hardly surprising that Gauntlet has got one; it must be one of the biggest games about. If you're only likely to play it on your own, than think before you splash out, but in two-player mode it's hard to stay away from. Well done US Gold.'
'At last the original game hits the streets (well the CRASH office anyway). This is just as playable as the arcade machine - and the conversion retains the fast screen scrolling. It even manages to keep the old 'come on follow me' feeling - if you're playing with a friend co-operation is essential as the dungeon scrolls around the characters on screen and it's easy to get trapped if you try to go your separate ways. Gauntlet is more of a shoot/pick 'em up game than any of its clones, and as such it contains much more fast action fun. Cancel all engagements for the next few months, Gauntlet has arrived!'
The much-acclaimed Atari coin-op arrived on the Spectrum in February 1987 with 512 multiloaded, scrolling levels. But this 'official conversion' only arrived after several very good clones of the arcade machine had appeared. The belated licensed version, like the clones, only catered for two players, unlike the four of the arcade original. But even with just a daring duo, cooperation is essential for success. Partly this is due to the differing capabilities of the characters.
The simple aim of the adventurers is to explore the many levels, while shooting and hacking as many monsters as possible. The ghosts, demons aid rock-throwing lobbers emerge from generators (which can be shot) and swarm through the mazes attacking the heroes. Contact with them reduces the player's energy level and if this drops to zero, the adventure (and life) is over. Luckily, nourishment is scattered around, along with magic potions to destroy many enemies at once.
Although graphically and sonically rather dull the Spectrum version of Gauntlet retains (most importantly) all the playability of the classic coin-op. While the large amount of levels require a multiload, since eight load in a time play doesn't suffer too many interruptions. A huge, action-packed game, this is a bargain. If you were silly enough to miss it first time around, get it NOW!
There's nothing the YS lovebirds like more than cuddling together round a nice, warm Gauntlet machine. We asked Dauntless Rachael Smith and Gormless Gwyn Hughes whether they dig the dungeons, Spectrum-style.
Rachael: What better place to start than the start? After an initial adventure in the land of multi-load, of course.
Gwyn: The main program's on side one: the dungeons on side two. A second player can join a one person game at any stage.
Rachael: Though you don't get a choice of character that way.
Gwyn: If you want to change characters at all, you have to re-load the whole thing.
Rachael: The score's ticking away. Move!
Gwyn: Ghosts! Let me get them. I've got more powerful projectiles.
Rachael: Boasting again!
Gwyn: Look - there's a sorcerer coming.
Rachael: This calls for some hand to hand combat.
Gwyn: That should certainly do for him.
Rachael: There are loads of angry ghosts on the other side of that door.
Gwyn: That's because we've been hanging around. They carry on appearing until they fill the screen.
Rachael: And we've to fight our way through?
Gwyn: You forget my magic potion. Get close to them, so there are as many as possible on-screen, press the magic button and...
Rachael: Nice one, Merlin.
Gwyn: It kills every nasty on screen.
Rachael: Haven't you noticed that monsters outside the screen never enter it?
Gwyn: So you clear the screen you're in...
Rachael: ...then walk on a little to scroll it a bit further - but only so a few more masties appear.
Rachael: That wasn't bad for a first course. What's next?
Gwyn: Hang on. I'm just loading it.
Rachael: Help! it wasn't like this last time.
Gwyn: No. Though the maze remains the same. some of the elements shift about.
Rachael: Watch it, your health's pretty low, and I don't like the look of that crowd in there.
Gwyn: There's a lot of cider, to compensate.
Rachael: But will you reach it in time?
Gwyn: No good hanging around. Let's go in.
Rachael: It's no good. Your health indicator is flashing. You're done for.
Gwyn: Only one thing for it. Reincarnate. And in a single player game you could always use the ability to create a second character, before the first one dies.
Rachael: I'm a-maze-d you're not mapping this.
Gwyn: You think I've got time to get out the old graph paper? Anyhow - there are too many things that change during the game. Doors. Walls that disappear. Much better to get to know the sort of pitfalls that each level holds in store.
Rachael: Most exits seem to be on the edges of the screens
Gwyn: ... or in the centre.
Rachael: If you don't fight for some time, exits appear everywhere, anyhow.
Gwyn: I've never stood still long enough. Inactivity makes all the invisible walls melt, releasing whatever lies behind them.
Gwyn: Are you running away?
Rachael: No, just checking ahead.
Gwyn: You couldn't get far. The two characters have to be within the screen area.
Rachael: I know. The only opportunity I get for a moment's peace is when you've left a maze. Then I can run around, picking up any bits of treasure you missed.
Gwyn: Getting picked up by any wandering monsters we neglected to kill, more like. Co-operation's the name of the game now. So it's side by side and keep firing till we've cleared the generator.
WHAT'S YOUR POISON?
Rachael: Look - another potion.
Gwyn: Better let me have it. I can do more damage when I use it with the magic key.
Rachael: It could give me extra armour or fight power or shot speed ... I'm going to pick it up.
Gwyn: Not if I shoot it first!
Rachael: Hey! Not fair! I thought you said we were co-operating.
Gwyn: Yes, but I reckon it's of more use to us if I have it to clear a crowd of grunts, say.
Rachael: Then why didn't you say so. It'll be less powerful because you got it by shooting rather than picking it up.
Gwyn: We're both pretty low.
Rachael: Use magic then.
Gwyn: It won't clear enough of those demons to get us to safety.
Rachael: Not for both of us ...
Gwyn: What do you mean?
Rachael: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. As soon as you're dead I'm running for the exit. So long sucker...
Gwyn: I'm reincarnating if you make it ... and I might use you for a bit of target practise!
Worra licence! Gauntlet, if anything, is an even bigger game than Uridium - top by miles in the Desert Island Disks chart earlier this year, and generally considered to be one of the best and most enduring of all arcade conversions. If you don't know of it, you may well have had your head buried in cement for the past two years, but for those few yet to experience its joys, here's a rundown.
You, for some reason known only to yourself, are stuck in this many-levelled world of mazes, all of a particular size but each of its own pattern. Nasties abound, and depending which characters you have chosen (you can take two of four on offer) you can fire at them with variable degrees of effectiveness. Sooner or later you die, of course, but don't we all? I couldn't get the famous SYM SHIFT cheat to work on this one, but I'll be fascinated to hear of anyone who can. Good blasting.
Issue 37 (February 1987) Page 16
ROBIN: Gauntlet, the official conversion, arrived in CRASH Towers just in time for the February 1987 issue - where it was immediately Smashed and hailed as 'a much better game than any of its clones'. It follows the arcade original quite faithfully, with a few alterations due to the limitations of the Spectrum.
The original is a one-to-four-player game where each player plays simultaneously. The abilities of the characters vary - for instance, some are better at combat than others. The aim is to rush about the spacious mazes hacking at anything that moves and eating anything that doesn't. You have to find a key to get into some parts of the maze.
There are six groups of nasties out to stop you. At the top of the tree comes Death himself, who can only be killed if you have a magic potion; the other baddies can be killed in hand-to-hand combat, or shot.
You have only one life, which is represented by a health score. This goes down when you're wounded by the enemy and goes up when food and drink are collected. Scattered about each maze are objects which give limited help, such as increased fire power and invisibility.
To progress to the next level you have to find an exit - and if you're particularly proficient, you can buy The Deeper Dungeons, a 512-screen add-on to Gauntlet.
The biggest letdown in the Spectrum conversion of Gauntlet is the graphics, which are small and simple. And, unlike the arcade original, the Spectrum Gauntlet allows only two players. Still, the conversion retains all the playability and addictive qualities that made the original such a smash hit. The multiload system gets a bit annoying at times - but it's a small price to pay.
RICKY: Because Gauntlet is the official conversion, it includes all the best features, and it's no disappointment after the arcade game. However, I could only enjoy Gauntlet as a two-player game - on my own I found it didn't generate the same enthusiasm.
Yes, the metal glove that reduced many a games player into a shivering sleepless wreck. Thisis one of the oly coin-op conversions that ever really captured the addictive essence of the original and was the big Christmas hit in '86. I was enchanted by this one for months.
If you don't know already the idea is to direct your beefy medieval hero (or heroine) on a quest through billions of multi-load levels, fighting off hordes of ghosts, ogres and grim reapers, collecting potions, treasure and extra-weaponry, sifting through caverns, mazes and bonus screens, blasting, exploding, pulverising, shooting aarrghhh! It's brilliant! The creatures are fairly brainless, churning about, chasing you. They're fairly easy to dispatch as well, a couple of well-timed axes down their ectoplasmic gullets usually does the biz. You race towards the exits but doors block off sections of the maze, so keys must be collected to open them. The mazes become progressively more complex and progressively more populated with nasty cultures. You collect extra weapons and deal death in a fun way.
The graphics are a little simplistic, the colours a little garish and the multi-load a bit tedious, but all these niggles are swiftly forgotten when you experience the pleasure of simultaneous two player action. Playing with a friend (at the computer, I hasten to add) lends another dimension to the game. You can be savagely nefarious and leave your partner to the Reaper's mercy, be savagely sadistic and shoot him 'accidently' or even be savagely cooperative - either way it's bags of fun and well worth the money.
Well, here we are then, the real thing.
After Dandy and Druid the Gauntlet surrogates, we have Gauntlet, the Official Licenced Version.
Both Druid and Dandy were good games (and Dandy particularly a very adequate Gauntlet substitute) and both were released around two months before this one. Does it stand a chance? Do you need to buy it? I'd say yes.
Things begin badly however, for various reason, when you're setting up right at the start. Partly because of Spectrum memory restrictions and partly because a Gauntlet Expander tape is planned in the next few months (US Gold needs to get some of that money back somehow) you have to keep stopping and starting the tape, making selections, number of players, which character you want to be and so on and then restarting the tape.
Worse. During the game after every eight levels or so you have to restart the tape to load in the next batch of levels. You'd better hope you don't get any problems with the hyperload...
Is it authentic? Yes very, although the graphics are simplified compared with the arcade original.
A good many of the mazes are exactly the same in layout as on the machine. I was very pleased to discover that one of my favourite sections, where a great mass of ghosts crowd the doorway just waiting for you to open it, was retained almost exactly. The shapes of the ghosts, the food supplies, the bottles, the bags of gold, all are retained from the original.
Better still, the gameplay is such that you can make use of strategies developed at great expense and over many hours on the arcade machine. As ever the monster generators are the key - get them first - and on some levels its definitely more feasible to go treasure hunting than others. Other times it's better to head straight for the exit just as fast as possible...
Like the original, it works best as a two-player game and the program provides for a large number of alternative arrangements for keys and/or joysticks so that the whole thing becomes logistically feasible.
The choice of characters at the beginning is the same. There's Thor who's like Rambo - tough but lacks the noddle to cope with spells. Thyra is pretty good at everything except shot power. Merlin is butch but is good at the magic stuff. And Questor who isn't much of a shot and can't take much punishment but is good at everything else. Well defended characters are probably best for beginners.
How does it rate? Personally I still prefer Avenger as a marginally more complex game but if you are an addict of the arcade game, and who isn't, I think even Dandy owners might not be able to resist it.
It's actually about as good a conversion as it could reasonably be hoped for. A relief for Gauntlet players everywhere.
Label: US Gold
Author: Gremlin Graphics
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Finally it has arrived. By that I do not mean that U.S. Gold is late launching the game - just that with the way this magazine is produced, this game missed the January issue by a matter of minutes and, therefore, you will probably have made your decision about it rather than waiting for this review.
If you bought the game, relax, for it is undoubtedly the best version and for anyone who knows and loves the arcade game, it is the only version immediately familiar both to look at and play. Having recovered from the immediate shock of having my copy, albeit an early version, I delved further to check how well the conversion had been achieved.
Levels 1 and 2 are disconcertingly sparse and, therefore, the unmarked floors disguise the feeling of movement. From level 3 onwards, however, the game comes into its own - ghosts, demons, wizards and a plethora of other baddies, all equally well-defined, with only one objective - to kill you.
Each of the characters is excellently defined, with Thor in particular being a personal favourite. All the little touches from the game are there, including the exit on level 5 which takes you to level 8, and some fiendish treasure rooms which certainly make the adrenalin flow.
The music, created by Ben Dalglish, is faithful to the original and the effects are neat and suitable. To conclude, Gauntlet will by now have been the Christmas number one and, contrary to most people. I feel it deserves to be. It is one of the best arcade conversions yet and two-player mode is really good fun.
THE ARCADE CONVERSION SET TO MAKE CONVERTS OF US ALL.
This is the game that everyone has been waiting for. During a wait for the official version of Gauntlet from US Gold, the rest of the software industry has developed an overwhelming compulsion to produce Gauntlet imitations. This chorus of "send in the clones" has brought us Storm (Mastertronic), Dandy (Electric Dreams) and Druid (Firebird).
So, has the market been saturated to the extent that Gauntlet is an anti-climax? The short answer is no. Despite approaching with misgivings that it could be disappointing (given the hype its received) I can report that the official Gauntlet is by far the most enjoyable and addictive of them all.
The original arcade game could be played by up to four players. On the Spectrum of course, this is whittled down to two (thankfully both can play with a joystick) but it is the option of cut and slash teamwork as you clear dungeon after dungeon of nasties that adds a whole new dimension to playing a Spectrum game. You would expect this two player option to slow down the action but surprisingly there is no loss of speed and the action is frenetically fast.
You have a choice of four characters and, if playing the two player game, it's best to choose characters that have complimentary characteristics. Thor, for instance, is a warrior with excellent muscle power and good in close combat but a dunce when it comes to casting spells. You might want to team him with Merlin who gets pummelled badly in hand to hand fighting, but can use his magic power to wipe out monsters and the generators that spawn them.
Thyra the Valkyrie's speciality is hand to hand combat and Questor the Elf relies on his magic charms to make up for moderate abilities at fighting.
As for adversaries, the dungeons are overflowing with them, ranging from ghosts to Death, whose fatal charms will drain you of health unless you have the spell to kill him. In addition there are Grunts, Demons, Lobbers and Sorcerers all with their own characteristics and each requiring a slightly different approach to dispatch them most effectively.
Be warned that due to the complexity of Gauntlet (512 levels) there is a lot of time spent rewinding and loading from tape. If you don't find Gauntlet compulsive this could be a drag but if you become addicted these breaks can become a welcome respite from the unrelenting battle.
The aim of the game of course is to fight, barge, charm, shoot and punch your way through those 500-plus levels. It's not a game for dedicated strategists. For one thing the swarms of dungeon dwellers threatening you leave little time for planning ahead. There are, however, ploys you'll need to implement if you want to survive. Unless you are an advanced player you can forget about the points tally - worry instead about your health score. Go for all the food you can pick up (some of it is poisoned but after a while you can spot the difference) initially I found myself shooting food by mistake in the heat of the fray (not a good idea).
If cornered by monsters try to destroy the generators, you can't clear a screen completely until you have. Mass slaying of roomfuls of magic ghouls may make you feel good but think of your health which will be sapped by each individual contact.
Gauntlet holds a lot of surprises; the graphics are vivid and maintain their clarity, even on a screen teeming with detail. The speed of the game will satisfy even the hardened arcade player, the lifespan of the game will keep the value-conscious happy and there are enough elements to it to satisfy those who want something more than to just shoot things. Of course if you just like shooting things and know somebody else who likes shooting things too, then this game will seem very close to heaven.
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