This is the age of the sequel - Gauntlet II follows US Gold's phenomenally successful Gauntlet just over a year after the original's release.
Here, four brave warriors wait to battle against virtually insurmountable odds in a desperate bid for freedom.
Each has different attributes and characteristics. Thor is well-armoured and a fine fighter but has poor magic skills; Thyra has more magic, but is not such a strong fighter; the wizard Merlin has of course excellent magic, but carries no armour and cannot fight well either; and Questor is an elf with some fighting skills, armour and very good magic.
You can choose any one of these characters to undertake the dangerous course that leads them to ever-higher levels on a perilous mission beset by a myriad of monsters.
Generators release the villainous monsters into the labyrinthine 100 levels of dungeons through which our heroes journey.
The stock of devilish bogeymen includes disappearing ghosts, club-wielding grunts, fireball-shooting demons, rock-hurling lobbers, sorcerers and super sorcerers, floor-covering acid puddles and Death himself, who can only be fought with magic.
Further evil distractions include the IT monster, which can transform a warrior into R by touch alone; and the THAT, which can deprive any warrior of his powers and potions as well as taking away 100 valuable health points.
Should a warrior choose not to fight against the fiendish flocks and dally for 30 seconds, locked doors are opened, and more monsters which lurk waiting behind them are released upon their hapless victim.
But the flow of monsters can be halted by destroying the generators.
Among the heroes' weapons are ten super shots which can take out any monster in their path; reflective shots that can be fired around comers; and glowing red transporters which take their occupant to the nearest location containing another transporter.
And special potions found in the dungeons of Gauntlet II confer upon the user increased armour, magic, shot power and speed, and improve a warrior's ability to pick up items and amulets which temporarily give him special powers. Food and cider restore a warrior's health.
Sometimes potions can be found in the treasure chests which are scattered through the subterranean netherworld and which can be that for points - but beware. Other caskets are dangerous, containing only Death.
Keys also lie upon the dungeon floors, and at random moments treasure rooms appear. A warrior must then enter the treasure room and collect as many valuables as possible before time runs out.
But there are obstacles all around. Walls can prove impenetrable, though some can be blasted out of existence; force fields, which drain health points, are effective periodically and cannot be destroyed; traps can make walls disappear when triggered; and stun tiles temporarily knock out those who step upon them.
Some exits are easily reached, but others move about continuously, or are fake, being no more than painted floor tiles.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: small and effective, but no improvement over the original's
Sound: poor collision effects; lacks a decent tune
Options: choice of four players
'The small graphics and dismal tuneless sound just aren't worth it, and Gauntlet II Is pointlessly similar to the original Gauntlet -the same idea, the same graphics, but not the same CRASH Smash!'
NICK ... 55%
'Hacking a path through hordes of hell-fiends should provide greater entertainment than this. Certainly, the potential is there: the instructions do much to set the grisly scene and create a hack 'n 'slay atmosphere, and the presentation is subtly effective. Unfortunately, this subtlety goes too far when it comes to sound - bleeps and peeps simper apologetically as your character cuts, slashes and chops, each squeak too quiet and indistinguishable from the others. The characters and monsters are sharply drawn and move well, but the colour scheme is a little bland - more plain dull than evocatively sombre. Gauntlet II isn't much of an improvement on the original, just different, and the differences don't merit buying the sequel if you've got Gauntlet.'
MIKE ... 66%
'Gauntlet was a great arcade conversion, it was expanded by The Deeper Dungeons (extra levels which could be bought and added to the basic game), and Gauntlet II will add to this elite group of classics. It follows the same lines as its predecessor, but has some original qualities too - such as the useful option to bring in a second fighter when you need one. And new hazards and foes present new problems, giving this sequel a feel of its own.'
NATHAN ... 74%
At last! Another really good reason to spend all day playing Gauntlet. Yes indeed, the sequel you've all been waiting for, with more levels than Mr Spock's chessboard and more ghosts and ghouls than a Bela Lugosi flick. All the publicity for Gauntlet II makes out that there's so many new features it's practically a new game. Is this the truth or is US Gold just pulling a fast one, I asked myself?
Actually the blurb wasn't far wrong, there's a lot more to this one than there was in the original game, and come to think of it, there being a point to it at all is a big bonus. In the first Gauntlet all you had to do was chase around the various level mazes, shooting anything that moved and collecting treasure, potions, food and keys in order to proceed deeper into the dungeons. And speaking of Deeper Dungeons, that's what you had next, a bolt-on upgrade tape with a lot more Gauntlet to play if you'd already scaled the 8 billion multiload levels on the first tape. But the initial aim of the game was the same (coo, that rhymes!) and although a good blast for your average shoot 'em up maniac, had very little to offer in the way of action once you'd mastered the basic of survival.
Now we have Gauntlet II, and what a brillo game it is too. The idea behind the game is to find your way to the dragon's cave and destroy him. thereby getting all his treasure. All the favourite beasties are there from Gauntlet I, the few additions being ITs, THATs, stun tiles, spell-lobbing wizards and sorceresses, and nasty yerchy acid puddles. The exits are a bit more mobile too, phasing in and out, sometimes before you can get into them. Not to mention the magic walls - I told you not to mention the magic walls - which vanish when you shoot them turning into something nice (treasure or exits) or something nasty (monsters or baddies). But to help you through these extra hazards, there's a whole bunch of extra special powers, like extra armour, extra magic power extra shot speed, extra shot power, extra fight power, extra pick power... and who knows, maybe even extra, extra power! (ho ho)
One of the nastiest pitfalls in the game is the stun tile. This is an invisible tile set into the floor of a dungeon, indicated by an occasional twinkle as you approach it. When your foot touches it your character is stunned for a few second, not really the sort of thing you want to happen when there's a mound of seething manticores bearing down on you, spitting death. Other high points include a bullet that bounces off the walls, three bounces before it tuckers out, and a super shot, which ploughs through everything in it's path until it hits a wall.
Not really much sonix to speak of, the tune at the beginning only just sneaking by as music, and the usual scritchity-scratch whenever you shoot at anything. The graphics have been tweaked a bit in this version, not so much that you'd really notice, but the action is just as fast and furious, and I think you're going to like it a lot. A 'must have' for all of you who asked for Gauntlet on your Desert Island Disks. (Yay!)
Sequels, in the great swirling mystical scheme of things controlled by the Big Beardy One in the sky, aren't usually much cop.
Beach Head II? Agent X II? US Aliens? Cobblers. Every one.
Which means that when a game like Gauntlet II comes along, you're pretty relieved just to find that it's not too bad at all.
How do you follow Gauntlet - easily the biggest selling game of last year?
It's been over a year since it came out, and since then we've seen an incredible number of similar games, each boasting a new handful of features over the last. So many you begin to wonder, after such a long time, if the old formula could possibly have any depths as yet un-plummed.
The Gauntlet-style of games (Gauntlet, Druid, Dandy, Into the Eagle's Nest. Ranarama etc) followed the following lines: big over-viewed scrolling dungeon with one figure (or two) rushing about firing spells/arrows/guns at hundreds and hundreds of enemy troops.
Though the graphics were smaller and not as finely tuned as many games of the time, the vast numbers of animated characters, loads of levels and the scale of the action made the games incredibly popular.
Gauntlet II is basically a jazzed-up Gauntlet. There isn't actually any progression as such in the game's format, merely enhancements and tweaks.
So what do you get? Well, there are four characters, each - he says for probably not the last time ever - with their own attributes. Some are good at shooting, some have good armour, or maybe special magic powers. The idea is obviously to pick two characters which together present the strongest team. Then it's off into the dungeon.
There are upwards of one hundred levels, each a smidgen more choc-a-block full of nasties than the last.
There are ten things in all which it is best to avoid. Among the more interesting are Lobbers, who will hurl objects over walls on top of you. This reduces the chances of you being able to find yourself a blind-spot from the bad guys, forcing you out into the combat once more.
Then there's the IT monster which is great. It appears and jumps on to a player, which will then become IT. Every monster in the dungeon will instantly chase straight for this player and kill him. The only way to lose your IT-ness is to touch another player, who then becomes IT, and so on.
You'd be amazed at the objects you find lying on a dungeon floor. It's almost as if a large percentage were created just to help you out. There's Extra Fire Power, Extra Armour, Keys (allowing you through the exits and thus on to later levels). Transporters and there are even bottles of cider - poisonous or otherwise - to be used to your advantage.
It's being a bit picky but the graphics are a bit workmanlike. They do thieir task, and I suppose when you're dealing with such numbers, and as a result sucj small scale, there isn't much room for artistic flair.
Label: US Gold
Author: Tony Porter
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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