Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Gauntlet II - Commodore Amiga & Atari ST - 1989

After the success of Gauntlet in the arcades, Atari duly released a sequel.  Gauntlet II was subsequently converted to most home computers of the time with the Amiga and Atari ST once again boasting the best versions.  Both have identical graphics and gameplay although I think the quality of graphics is inferior to the original Gauntlet on the ST.  The effects, speech and jingles sound like they were sampled directly from the coin-op so are quite good on each machine.  The samples on the Amiga are of a slightly higher quality but most have a noticeable and annoying ‘click’ when they end.  If (like me) you can’t ignore this then the ST conversion is the one to choose.

Atari went with the ‘if it ain’t broke’ mantra so Gauntlet II plays like the original with more bells and whistles. For a start, there is no more fighting over which character to play as anyone can select any character. 

In addition to the original monsters a few new ones have been added.  The most memorable is the IT monster.  If this touches a character they become ‘IT’ and every monster will home in on them until they touch someone else.  Pointless in a single player game, great with two or more.  There are moving acid puddles which make a nice slurping sound when touched.  The monster legend also shows a dragon, but I don't recall ever seeing one in the game.

Other new features are moveable and destructible walls and, annoyingly, moving exits.  Another new pickup are the amulets.  These give various abilities to your character which, unlike potions, only last for the current level.  Finally there are new floor tiles - force field causes damage, stun tiles pause your character for a moment, and trap tiles can open walls (that usually have a Death or two behind).

As none of my friends play retro games Gauntlet II as a solo experience a little dull.  I used to play it a lot with my brother back in the day but the best experience is with four players.  Both the ST and Amiga versions support up to four simultaneous players using a joystick adapter.  One of my friends had one and a group of us used to play quite a bit.  We always started out intending to play co-operatively and to share any food.  These plans always fell apart as soon as one of us accidently shot another or when one of us were touched by the IT monster.  Lots of laughs, good natured banter and an experience missing from on-line gaming.  

Sample of Amiga gameplay...

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