“Gauntlet has not aged well.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.
This game is kind of a classic, right? I mean, I’ve definitely heard of it. Growing up, even before I owned the cartridge, I was aware of what it meant when you heard “Gauntlet!”
I saw the arcade cabinet. I would eventually rent the NES iteration. I would marvel at how follicle-rippingly difficult it was.
Oh, hear me on this: Even with the password feature, this is not a great game, nor an easy one. Much like how Abadox is still very difficult despite giving the player infinite continues, Gauntlet is a remarkable challenge, even with passwords that can place you 79 stages ahead (but there are over 90 rooms in all, keep in mind).
Playing Abadox feels fun, though, as you get to enjoy the tight design and a very rewarding finish. But Gauntlet? Yuck. Drudgery and tedium the entire way. The path through the Gauntlet is arduous; torturous, even.
This is not just me ranting, either (well, not entirely!). Take a look at how the instruction booklet describes the password system for this game.
Good grief! Why on Earth would you make it so complicated? Sure, the game tells you at one point how to enter passwords, but why not have a simple option on the title screen to select a password-entry screen? You have to hear directions from this guy:
You know what? That guy might be the highlight of the game for me. When I tell my grandchildren about Gauntlet, I will say, “That game is butt-bustingly hard, but at least it has That Guy in it.”
But let’s not forget the clue rooms and the 8-character combination lock! No sir! Again, don’t take it from me, let’s let the instruction manual describe this monstrosity:
… That is insane! Why? Why?! Why put that sort of thing into a video game?
And don’t just tell me “to actually make it challenging,” because the game would be quite difficult enough without this, thank you very much. You can design a game to be organically difficult, and rewarding, and mesmerizing and awesome and wonderful — without putting in features that are explicitly present just to make the game a pain in the figurative ass.
Let’s not get started on the fact that you lose health every second (in short: asinine).
Yet, despite all that, yes, this game is sort of a classic. You cannot escape the Gauntlet. You can only hope to gaze into its deep, dark abyss — and someone emerge intact.
Read The Full Review For: More gameplay screenshots, what Pac-Man has to do with Gauntlet, and your usual category-coded commentary.
NES Gameplay Tips for Gauntlet: When you are stunned by a stun tile, pause the game, then unpause. You are no longer stunned! Also, consider playing with a friend. The game is not any easier (seriously, not one bit, possibly makes it even harder), but least you will not have to suffer through it alone.
A few more screenshots for ya: