Gauntlet (NES) Retro Review

Gauntlet is a 1987 fantasy themed hack and slash for the NES developed and published by Atari Games. Its well known for its co-op (2 in the NES version, 4 in the arcade) and ability to choose between 4 characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Sadly i can only play on my own but i’ll probably update it one day (some emulators have net-play).

The Start screen of this game is by far more colorful than most of the stuff before it which i personally believe is because Atari has their own computers and would probably style it after that sort of thing (I never played the arcade version since I’m only 21). The music was quite ok as well. The menu’s were quite colorful and i absolutely loved the character select screen since it was nice looking and easy to use. I chose the Valkyrie due to personal due to both wanting the highest defense and the fact i rarely ever use potions.

The graphics when you get into gameplay isn’t that good but the music is pretty decent. Controls are very easy to get used to with A being used to throw projectiles and B being used for magic bombs. The game has some points that i personally found quite interesting, firstly it used a power bar which was essentially a combined health/timer counter which meant getting hit or lost would be far worse than in other games. Secondly your character also attacks things it collides with so running through a group of enemies at the cost of health is entirely possible. Also you throw your projectile as soon as it hits so close range combat is surprisingly useful as you can hold the button down and throw incredibly fast. Two things that bugged me about the game was how you almost always get hit when opening gates with keys because of the monsters waiting on the other side and the fact that you can shoot and destroy food which really screws you over.

After playing it for awhile i noticed a few things, firstly the game has set levels so its possible to sort of guide yourself through them if you know what you’re doing. There is also a password system with the password being given at the bottom of the screen which i somehow didn’t notice the first few times. A useful trick that saved me alot of bother was the fact you could shoot diagonally through walls and therefore safely kill some stuff without having to jump in all the time. I did get better and i found myself enjoying it quite alot, i even tried the other characters although i don’t think i have a favorite yet (The Wizard is pointless to me though).

Overall i can recomend to people if they manage to get the NES version however I’d actually rather you get another version instead. I know its cheating but if you emulate the arcade version you can casually play through the game with infinite health by constantly ‘inserting coins’, also theres the obvious fact that 4 player is better than 2.


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