#109 Gauntlet II

Posted: 9th August 2019 by Jeroen in Games
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805th played so far

Genre: Action
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1986
Developer: Atari Games
Publisher: Atari Games

While I’ve played Gauntlet before, as I said then, I’ve played its sequel before. In fact, as a family we played it as far as we could – not just me, but my sister and mother as well. As Gauntlet II loops its levels infinitely, this was a lot of experiencing the same levels with some difficulty variations, but it was a great multiplayer experience.

For this round, I’ll be playing on my own, but I also get to think how well it still works.

Our Thoughts

While Gauntlet II still has the same basics as the original – lots of enemies spawning from these spawn point areas as you make your way through maze-like levels, finding exits and collecting keys to open doors. There are a bunch of different magic items around that give you different powers – moving through walls is especially useful, while certain ones that attract or deflect enemies help or annoy more with combat. There are still digitized bits of speech in there – something that feels impressive looking back on it. That even made it into the NES port, which makes it feel even more impressive.

By now I’ve played the arcade version as well, and I must admit I thought the NES port was pretty faithful. It looks and feels the same and I didn’t notice anything in the arcade game that wasn’t in the NES port. Other than the obvious coin difference – this is a game you can keep playing forever… as long as you keep feeding coins into it.

The other part that’s good about the game, but that I couldn’t get into as much here, is the multiplayer. The four player gameplay feels tempting and I enjoyed it on the NES. It feels made for it, both in places where you can help out (with, I suspect, certain enemies getting easier) and with ways to annoy each other as you have to share resources. Health, and hence time, is especially limited this way, probably to keep you paying.

Final Thoughts

Does this game improve on the original? Yeah, although may be not as much as is obvious when I describe it here. It’s that bit of extra polish and the expansion of content. But the formula still works and I kept being entertained by it, and that feels like the bigger determining factor. Get a home version that doesn’t require you to feed it quarters, and you’re on to a winner.