Gauntlet (arcade game)

Gauntlet (arcade game)

Infobox VG
title = Gauntlet

developer = Atari Games
publisher = Atari Games, U.S. Gold
designer = Ed Logg
release = 1985
genre = Hack and slash
modes = Up to 4 players simultaneously
cabinet = Custom upright
arcade system =
ratings = OFLC: G
display = Raster, standard resolution (Used: 336 x 240)
input = Joystick, 2 buttons
platforms = Arcade

"Gauntlet" is a 1985 arcade game by Atari Games. "Gauntlet" is a fantasy-themed hack and slash arcade game which can be played by one to four players simultaneously, unique for arcade games of its day. Released during the emergence of popularity of role-playing games like "Dungeons & Dragons", the game was a sensation, being one of the first true dungeon crawl arcade games.

Controversy on origins

Controversy came after the release of this game in the arcade and its subsequent port to the Nintendo NES system. Ed Logg, the creator of Asteroids and Centipede is credited for Original Game Design of Gauntlet in the arcade version, as well as the 1987 NES release version. After its release, John Palevich threatened a lawsuit, asserting that the original concept for the game was from "Dandy" (later "Dandy Dungeon"), a game for the Atari 800 computer written by Palevich in 1983. The conflict was settled without any suit being filed, with Atari Games doing business as Tengen allegedly awarding Palevich a Gauntlet game machine.Citation | publisher = ATARI | title = Dark Chambers | url= | accessdate = 2007-09-11] Logg is taken off this credit in versions subsequent to the 1987 NES release. While he is credited as "special thanks" through 1986, his name is entirely removed from credits on later releases.Citation | publisher = Moby Games | title = Gauntlet Credits | url= | accessdate = 2007-09-11] Logg currently claims no involvement in any of the Gauntlet series.Citation | publisher = '|tsr's NES Archive | title = Tetris Forever | interviewer = tsr | url= | accessdate = 2007-09-11] The game "Dandy" which was the basis for the threatened lawsuit was later reworked by Atari and re-published for the Atari 2600, Atari 7800 and Atari XE as "Dark Chambers" in 1988cite web | last = Vendel | first = Curt | title = The Atari 65XEM (AMY Sound Processor) | url= | accessdate = 2007-06-05 ] , subsequent to the release of Gauntlet II in 1987.


A player may control either Thor the Warrior, Merlin the Wizard, Thyra the Valkyrie or Questor the Elf. The hero being controlled is dictated by the player's position on the cabinet. (There is only one of each hero.) Each hero has a unique specialty/advantage: The Warrior is strongest in hand-to-hand combat, the Wizard has the strongest magic, the Valkyrie has the greatest armour and the Elf is the fastest in movement.

Players must cooperate to traverse the perils of a dungeon via a top-down view. The game has no actual goal. The only way to stop playing is to either die, or wait for the health timer to go down to zero. The NES version does, however, have an end (after 100 levels).

The players traverse the dungeon levels controlling their assigned heroes, attacking monsters and collecting treasure, food, and potions. The monsters of the first "Gauntlet" game included ghosts, grunts, demons, lobbers, sorcerers, and thieves. Each kind of monster was generated in specific houses spread in each level. A special enemy, "Death", was able to drain the life force of the four heroes. The players must cooperate by sharing food and luring monsters into places where they can be engaged and slaughtered more conveniently. The heroes continuously lose health during gameplay, regardless of what they are doing — even if they are just standing still. Heroes lose even more health when attacked by monsters. Besides finding food in the dungeon, players can add health by depositing more coins. Hence, "Gauntlet" was notorious for being a money gobbler when it first appeared, since players desperately shoved in handfuls of coins in order to avoid being ejected from the game and sometimes waiting hours in line in order to play again.

One of the game's features was the narrator's voice. He would frequently make statements repeating the game's rules, including: "Shots do not hurt other players (yet)," "Remember, don't shoot food!", "Elf -- shot the food!", and "Warrior needs food -- badly!" Occasionally, the narrator would encourage (or mock) the players in the thick of battle by saying, "I've not seen such bravery!" or "Let's see you get out of here!" A memorable statement of the game occurred when a player's "life force" points fell below 200: "Your life force is running out" or " about to die!" Some of the game's statements are humorously ambiguous due to limited memory, such as "You are full of bombs and/or keys." Due to the fact that "Gauntlet" was designed for up to four players, the cabinet is wider than other standard uprights. Each player had a joystick and two buttons, one for "Fire" (to attack) and one for "Magic". The Magic button also started the game. After "Gauntlet"'s release, other games started using this design, so it was a popular conversion target for newer games after it had its run.


"Gauntlet" also has a place in pop culture (specifically '80s video gaming culture). Quotes from the voiceover announcer such as "Wizard needs food badly!", "Valkyrie shot the potion!" and "Elf shot the food!" are some lines from the game that became popular with video arcade patrons and later with nostalgic Internet users, similar to all your base are belong to us. Because of this popularity and the designers' nostalgia for the older games, such lines have been included in the more modern "Gauntlet" sequels.Fact|date=June 2008

The line "Elf needs food badly!" was named the third best game line ever in the January 2002 issue of "Electronic Gaming Monthly".Fact|date=June 2008

When playing as a Wizard, Elf, or Valkyrie race/class in NetHack, the player receives warning messages about becoming weak from hunger or running low on hitpoints: "... needs food, badly!" or "... is about to die!" respectively.Fact|date=June 2008

In 2003 the third-wave ska band Five Iron Frenzy release a song called "Wizard needs food badly" on their album "The end is near". Here they use both quotes "The wizard needs food badly" and "The Wizard is about to die"


There are many cheats for "Gauntlet". One example is if the player's character remains inactive for about 28 health ticks (exact amount differs across the various Atari revisions), all the doors in the level disappear.

Another example is that if the character remains inactive for around 188 health ticks, all the walls will turn into exits. This particular trick was intentionally put in place because when playing with multiple players, it was sometimes possible to become permanently stuck.


Due to its phenomenal success in the arcades, "Gauntlet" was ported to several home systems of the day. These platforms include DOS, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, NES, Atari Lynx, Apple IIGS, Sega Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis (as Gauntlet 4), Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum, among others. More recently, an emulated version of "Gauntlet" was included in "Midway Arcade Treasures"; a compilation of arcade games available for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles and Windows. For some machines, only Gauntlet II was converted, since it was considered to be more advanced than the first game in series. In 1990, even the original Game Boy received a version of Gauntlet II. 16-bit conversions (Amiga, Atari ST & Mega Drive/Genesis) had similar sound and graphics as the original game.

A cell phone version for Java ME and BREW phones was developed by TKO Software.

"Gauntlet" was recently released for the Game Boy Advance on one of DSI Games two packs, alongside "Rampart". In addition, "Gauntlet" and "Gauntlet II" are among the emulated games that can be found in "Midway Arcade Treasures 1" and "2", respectively, for various modern console systems.

"Gauntlet" is available for download over Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade service as of the launch of the Xbox 360. It was released at the same time on the original Xbox's Xbox Live Arcade service.

"Gauntlet II" is available for download over Playstation 3's Playstation Store service.

"Gauntlet: The Deeper Dungeons"

"Gauntlet: The Deeper Dungeons" is an expansion pack for the original ports of "Gauntlet" with 512 new levels and required the original program. It was released in 1987 by the British company U.S. Gold in the UK and Europe, and Mindscape in the USA. It was released for Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. [MobyGames|id=/gauntlet-the-deeper-dungeons|name="Gauntlet: The Deeper Dungeons"] It was developed by Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd.

Many of its levels were entries in a competition throughout Europe in which only ten winners were awarded prizes, "A Gauntlet T-Shirt and a copy of the program for their computers." ["Gauntlet: The Deeper Dungeons" instructions.] The contest was announced in the instructions of many of the ported games: "In early 1987, U.S. Gold will release an expansion cassette for Gauntlet containing hundreds of new levels and treasure rooms. You can have the chance to have your own maze included on this tape!" [Original Gauntlet cassette tape version instructions released by U.S. Gold.] The levels are presented randomly and its artwork is the side panel artwork of the arcade cabinet with only the main characters shown. The enemies were removed from the image and replaced with a pink background.

Different games with the single title "Gauntlet"

=NES and Genesis=

* Main article: Gauntlet (NES)The NES version was a departure from the arcade, keeping only the basic game formula and cast of characters. 100 entirely new levels were constructed for this version, which added a definite quest; the goal was to retrieve the "Sacred Orb" located in the 100th level, which could only be accessed by collecting portions of a password hidden in certain "clue rooms" scattered throughout the first 99 levels. Power-up attributes that granted extra shot power and faster speed could be carried over from level to level, and a password system allowed the player to save their character's progress. The NES "Gauntlet" was one of only three Tengen cartridges to be released as officially-licensed Nintendo cartridges (the others being "Pac-Man" and "RBI Baseball"); it was later re-released as an unlicensed game following Tengen's split from Nintendo.

The Sega Genesis version, which was titled "Gauntlet" in Japan and released in North America and Europe as "Gauntlet IV", features a totally original soundtrack and three new game modes in addition to an Arcade Mode which is a port of the original game:

* Quest Mode - A story mode where the player must defeat the four towers and solve the mystery of the ancient castle; weapons can be bought with collected gold from merchants in the main hub area, where one can also choose which tower to take on next. The player can gain experience points to increase their character's stats and passwords can be used to continue.
* Battle Mode - Where multiple players fight against each other to the death. Maps can include teleporters/monsters/items etc. Players who go into exits are eliminated from the round.
* Record Mode - A single-player variation of the Arcade Mode with some variations such as using passwords to continue. The player's character cannot die in this mode, although points will be subtracted for every 500 health points lost.

Nintendo DS

* Main article: Gauntlet DSThe Nintendo DS overhaul of the original Gauntlet is being developed by Backbone Entertainment. The remake, which is expected to be released October 1st, 2008, will feature an entirely new 3D graphical engine, online four-player mode, and voice chat capabilities. [ [ IGN:Gauntlet for DS] ]


External links

*moby game|id=/gauntlet|name="Gauntlet"
*KLOV game|id=7922|name=Gauntlet
* [ Category at ODP]
* [ The Gauntlet Warriors Page]
* [ The NES version of Gauntlet being won in 12 minutes (video available on webpage)]
*WoS game|id=0001989|name=Gauntlet

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