GAUNTLET / US Gold / Sega Master System

Kudos to the SMS Gauntlet for being about as close to an arcade-perfect port as an 8-bit console could hope to get. Unlike the NES version, this is a straight and accurate port of the arcade game. It retains the overall feel with only somewhat watered-down graphics, and even has the iconic T-1000 synthesized voice sounding pretty much exactly like the arcade, as well as many of the key sound effects reproduced accurately.

Unfortunately, a really good port of Gauntlet is still Gauntlet, in all its poorly-aged, tedious glory. The biggest problem with Gauntlet was no downscaling for one or two players; huge waves of enemies were designed to be handled with four players on hand, and if you had less than that, it simply meant soaking up tons of hits and brute-forcing the game with a big pocketful of change. The SMS version only allows for two players at a time, yet the levels haven't really been altered to reduce enemy amounts or optimize the experience. There is a bit of a nod to downscaling in that players now start with a much more generous 2000 health per life, and monsters don't spawn from generators nearly as fast, but the flip side is that the game only grants you three "credits" to continue with, meaning the game on the whole is actually probably harder than trying to solo or two-man the arcade original.


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