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.
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.
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.
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