When I was a kid, my older brother worked at The Wiz.
So when he came home with a Nintendo Entertainment System (purchased, of course, with his awesome discount), holy good golly, he was the best (only) brother I ever had!
He came home with the standard Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, Tetris, and…Gauntlet.
Mario Bros was fun, but I was only allowed about an hour of video game time, and that was NEVER enough to finish the game. This was before the days of saving games so you’d be forced to go back to the beginning and play the same levels over and over again, trying to go through them faster and faster to get to that new level.
Duck Hunt sickened me because of that smug mutt who I wanted to punch in the snout every time you missed a shot. His high pitched laugh haunts me.
Tetris was fun (I have it on my phone now), too, but Gauntlet, and, specifically, Gauntlet II…They were my freaking jam.
(NOTE: I’ll appreciate it if people don’t come after me for using incorrect game terminology. It was a game from 25+ years ago, and I’m trying to remember it fondly. Kindly keep your trolling to yourselves.)
The reason why I loved Gauntlet II so much was because of the randomization of levels. I didn’t care about the story (though I did run into some dragons, in my day), I cared about kicking ass!
The first level was always the same. You could get to the exit quickly or go farther along to move automatically to Level 8. I chose Level 8 because that’s when the randomizer seemed to kick in.
That means, that with the one hour I had to play, I could play all different kinds of levels, and it was a challenge every time!
I was always the Warrior because, despite being slower, he was the best in hand to hand combat. Honestly, I don’t know why I loved this game so much, but watching this video is bringing back so many feelings and memories, it’s not even funny.
There was the one board where there was no way out so you had to just avoid dying long enough for the game to concede and make every wall an Exit.
There was the crunchy sound when you ate food. The “OOF!” sound when you got hit. Those annoying dudes who would throw potatoes at you. The flashy orb that would poison you (IT). The amoeba looking watermelons that would suck your life.The keys. The treasure chests. The blinking wizards. The ghosts. The goblins. The potions that would (hopefully) clear the screen. The moving exits. Those black demons thingies that would suck the life out of you! The fire breathing Chinese dragons! The talismans (RED WARRIOR NOW HAS REFLECTIVE SHOTS!). The scoldings (RED WARRIOR SHOT THE FOOD!). The teleporters. THE FUN!
If you got into a corner at just the right angle, you could shoot through the corner and get the enemy. Some levels would have stipulations like your shots would stun others (if you were playing a two, three, or four player game). The treasure rooms were cool, but I would get greedy sometimes.
For whatever reason, I loved it when you had to break down a wall. The step by step animation of how each shot deteriorated the wall more and more. Maybe it touched on some bizarre, primal urge I had (have) to tear the world down. I don’t know.
Mario and the rest of those games were boring to me. They were repetitive. Even when Gauntlet repeated a level’s layout, they at least changed the color.
I never finished the game, or made it to the last board. I believe my highest level was somewhere in the mid 20s (26 is a number that seems to stick out). But I don’t think I ever wanted to finish the game. Gauntlet taught me that it was about the journey, not the destination (unless you were scrambling for an Exit).
Which leads me to a question, Nintendo…Why is it that most of the Nintendo games have been recreated, either for the Wii or other consoles and Gauntlet II hasn’t?!
A friend has told me to download an emulator, but do they make a Gauntlet II emulator for MAC? And if they do, I will NEVER get any work done.
But seriously…if there’s an emulator, someone please let me know.