GAUNTLET / Tengen / NES


Instead of porting the original Gauntlet arcade game to the NES, Tengen redesigns it here as more of a 1 to 2-player focused experience. The fundamental gameplay is the same, but the game is full of new maps, and now even has a rudimentary story, level-ups and bosses.

Creepy Satan greets you on the title screen and demands to know ONE OR TWO PLAYERS ... I guess he's the final boss as he pops back up for taunts or something in between levels, but I never really knew for sure thanks to the game's chief failing, which is brutal over-difficulty. The game does seem to have been designed with less players in mind, yet it's still ridiculously hard mostly thanks to having only one life to complete the whole thing on. The only way to fully replenish your health is by successfully finding, looting and escaping from treasure rooms. There's a few problems with this though - namely, they're missable if you take the wrong exit from a level, and you don't get any health back at all if you don't find the exit to the treasure room (you have 30 seconds) once in one. Not getting a refill from each treasure room is a virtual death sentence and you might as well just reset or turn off the game if you miss one somehow.


Between the treasure rooms and the way the levels are designed this basically leads to a structure where you have to know exactly what's coming to manage your limited resources and make it, so the game turns into a very long and extended "try and die" session as you progressively get a little bit farther each time and can be prepared for more on the next run. I know some people like this sort of thing but seriously, I think they're at least a little OCD or dopamine addicts, the rest of us just find it tedious and not even worth the time.

It's a shame because the graphics aren't bad considering NES limitations, and they even added a whole new soundtrack so the levels aren't played in silence anymore (even if some of it does sound like crazy circus music.)


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Gameplay Video
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