Saturday, October 8, 2011
Gauntlet II is very similar to the first Gauntlet, but with the following differences: 1) Gauntlet II has much better graphics than its predecessor. The textures are more dungeon-ish, and your character and his/her enemies all look a lot more like what they're supposed to be. 2) The voice that was missing in the first game is present in Gauntlet II. It sounds just like the arcade original. Any time the red warrior needs food, that glorious 8-bit voice will tell you all about it. It may seem a small thing, but it is a big part of Gauntlet's undeniable charm. Even when Gauntlet made the jump to consoles such as the Playstation 2, they kept the same voice. 3) If you have a Four-Score, you can play Gauntlet II in 4 player mode. There aren't too many 4 player games for the NES, and I would go so far as to say that Gauntlet II is as good as you'll do for 4 player NES action.
Gauntlet is an iconic game. It's one of the very earliest dungeon crawlers but it holds up surprisingly well despite its age. This is one of about a billion ports of this arcade classic. The trick is not to find a vintage system that had a Gauntlet port, it's a much harder thing to find a console that didn't.
For Gauntlet to warrant a release on so many systems, one would expect that one would be blown away or peeing one's pants whilst one's jaw hits the floor as a result of one's contact with Gauntlet. Maybe it doesn't hit that hard, but the appeal of Gauntlet is undeniable. Upon startup you are greeted by one of the all-time great video game fanfares (It's up there with Contra if you need a comparison). You are allowed to select one of four characters (Warrior, Elf, Valkyrie, and Wizard) each of which has its pros and cons. You are then dropped off in the first dungeon and must fend off attacks from ghosts, grunts, demons, and other enemies as you pick up treasure and life-renewing food all while fighting your way to the exit.
I can only throw two gripes I have about this game are: 1) The classic voice that tells you "Red Warrior Needs Food Badly" from the arcade version is not present in this port. 2) Only two players can play this game. The arcade version feature 4-player cooperative play. Aside from those two gripes, Gauntlet is a fine game and highly recommended for any serious NES collector.