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Gauntlet 2

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Reviewed by Andy Largely do to the Arcade success of the more recent Gauntlet Legends there seems to be interest in this great classic once more. ITS ABOUT TIME! I have greatly enjoyed this game since I picked it up 5 years ago in a tiny hole in the wall store. Much akin to the NES version, you will almost certainly recognize this one from the moment you hear the classic intro midi. The series was one of the first arcade games allowing true multi player co-operative play. For once you didn't have to trounce your friend, you could nurse him along. This feature is translated with the simple addition of a game link cable. And who can forget the first time you heard the game announce that your best bud's "Elf shot the Food" and doom you to a slow, agonizing death? This one's a keeper.

Graphics 8 out of 10

No stunning graphics in this game, but it did a surprisingly good job of looking just like it did on the NES console. All four characters have separate graphics, though all the weapons look amazingly similar. It is a little difficult to tell key switches (ones that open doors and walls) from trap switches (ones that cause a loss of hp.) It can also be a pain learning which walls are breakable (this consists of mostly hit and miss, though some skins do have a few clues.) Very few skips or jumps in the animation. When items suddenly appear it is by design. (Enemy Generators are fun.) All in all I think the game is pleasant to look at, even if it is incredibly repetitive.

Music and Sound 10 out of 10

Why would an eight bit game rank a 10 out of 10? Because of the Announcer. This is one of very few eight bit games to ever include a realistic human voice. The Game Boy games that have attempted this have uniformly failed. Either they are extremely "crispy", with lots of scratches and pops, or they don't sound human. In this game they use cut and paste sound bits, but with only a limited number of sentences. "Elf/Valkyrie/Warrior/Wizard shot the food/potion" or "Elf/Valkyrie/Warrior/Wizard is about to die", "I've not Seen Such Bravery" when you manage to kill the Dragon (an extremely difficult thing for a solo player), your guy getting hit, two different ones depending on which characetr you get, and the agonizing scream of your player dieing. The midi's are all pretty cool, and they are only played at specific times. No mindless endless loops of songs. This game is just as fun to listen to as to watch.

Game Challenge 9 out of 10

The enemies can be fairly challenging. There are grunts that simply make suicide runs, monsters that can shoot fireballs or come in and pound on you, and bombers who stay away and fire over the walls. Death is definitely one to avoid. Not all potions will kill all deaths. There's no preset limit to how much damage he gives, he just kills until he decides to leave. There is also the Dragon. Appearing in various places in different levels (you don't always get one, and he isn't always guarding the exit) he can be very intimidating. When playing solo, beating him can be a true test of your skills. The game then randomly throws in different effects just to see you squirm. Look for clues in the level intro. Sometimes you get the opportunity to enter a treasure room. These can be especially frustrating to get into, while extremely rewarding once found. "Go on a diet" is fairly obvious, while "don't get greedy" is surprisingly deceptive.

Game Play-Fun 9 out of 10

The power ups in this game make it one of the most fun I've ever played. How many Reflective shots can you get set up bouncing around? Beating the dragon is truly rewarding, giving you one of the stats of another player. Beat enough Dragons and you can have a truly pumped character. Limited Transportability is a built in cheat allowing you to create new pathways for your friends. There's even a special "perfume" that makes all of your virtual enemies unable to stay near you. I can recall great games of Tag, and there's no mistaking who's it in this game.

Replayability 10 out of 10

A random generator causes all levels from 6 on to change places. I played the game twelve times before my fist repeated level. And if you don't want to go through the first 5, there's a skip in level 1. There are moving exits, and fake ones (put the two together and its pure guesswork) that can make it a little difficult to memorize given levels. I picked this game up over 5 years ago, and I still return to it about once a week.

Overall 9 out of 10

I have enjoyed this game from the first time I picked it up. The few things about this game that lack are far out weighed by the great things it offers. I'd say more, but my Elf is whining for food.

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