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Title image from the game
Game No. 262
Developer Bob Armour
Publisher U.S. Gold
Musician Ben Daglish
HVSC-File MUSICIANS/D/Daglish_Ben/Gauntlet.sid
Release 1986
Platform Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Atari 800 XL, C64, MSX, PC-DOS, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum
Genre Shoot'em Up, Gauntlet
Gamemode Single player
2 players (simultaneous)
Operation {{{Width}}}{{{Width}}}
Media Icon disk525.png Tape-icon.png
Language Language:english
Information US version by Mindscape, Inc., Followers: Gauntlet - Deeper Dungeons, Gauntlet II, Gauntlet III


Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):
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C64Games 8 14th July 2008 - "super" 5569 downs
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ZZap64 93% Issue 2/87


The developers have not delivered a proper background story for the first part of Gauntlet. Also there is no aim of the game in the narrow sense except for to survive as long as possible and to see as many levels as possible and at the same time collect as many points as possible. Up to two people explore together the 512 dungeons for treasures and other valuable items in the C64 version.

First the players each decide for one of four selectable characters: Thor (Warrior), Thyra (Valkyre), Questor (Elf) or Merlin (Wizard).

Choosable characters:
The choice of characters

  • Warrior: strong and robust, but slow and not very talented in magic
  • Valkyre: a cross-section of everything, but not especially strong in any category
  • Elf: fast, but in return rather weak
  • Wizard: strong in magic, fast, but otherwise very weak.

With this character you fight your way through the dungeons which you are attacked by almost endless waves of monsters. To defend yourself you can throw with your weapon (axe/sword/arrow/fire balls) or use magic. Against some monster you can also go into close combat (= hold joystick into the direction of the enemy without pressing the fire button), which however is only recommended with a strong character, as otherwise it will cost very much Health. Furthermore, you have unlimited "ammunition", so that the long-range combat should always be preferred. Starting from a certain level the caption appears: "Shots will from now on stun other Players". From this point of time you are not allowed to shoot around thoughtlessly if you play in twos, as the co-player will get paralyzed and then stay helplessly at the hordes mercy for a few seconds, if you hit him accidentally.

At the beginning each character starts with 2.000 Health, which, however, already sinks by breathing. Each contact with monsters speeds up this procedure.In each dungeon there are generators that produce these monsters. If these generators are destroyed, no more new monster will appear, logically. Next to treasures, monsters, generators and hopefully also an exit you can find a few gimmicks that facilitate life for the player, es e.g. charms, teleports, keys and other items with which you get faster, stronger or more robust.

Enemies to be fought:

  • Ghosts: White-blueish schemes, which often appear in huge hordes and are fast. You should defeat them in large-distance fight, because when touched they blow out and subtract much Health.
  • Grunts: Brownish-black-white close combat fighters, which you can face in the close combat as a strong character, but you should not do this if it can be avoided. Most harmless enemy type.
  • Demons: Red-orange creatures, which shoot at the player with fire balls. They should be defeated fast in long-distance fight.
  • Stone thrower (Lobber): Greenish goblins which throw stones even over barriers and can thus hit the player. If you cannot reach them you should go away as they can cause lots of harm when appearing in masses. No problem in close combat.
  • Sorcerer: brightly purple sorcerers which resemble the Wizard character in appearance and flash between invisible and visible. When they are invisible you cannot hit them. Therefore they are a good target for strong characters in close combat.
  • Death: A black-purple reaper man which can only be defeated by a magic potion. It is immune against shots. When touching it, it sucks 200 Health before dematerialising. In contrast to the singular in the name, it can also occur in a greater number.


You watch the going-ons from the top down 2D view. The graphis are - apart from the title screen - not spectacular, but seen in the context of the release year they are ok. Extraordinary are the almost gigantic hordes of hostile sprites which you have to face at the same time, whereby the generators always produce more of them busily. Unfortunately, the sound effects in the game are a bit weak. If you know the arcade machine, you will miss the atmospheric speech samples that are available there. The title melody by Ben Daglish is probably still ringing in many an ear, as it is played in short form as a jingle during the loading time for each level change. With 512 levels this can possibly enervate touchy people.

Animation: level 1 solved. Screenshot: precarious situation


Magic: Against especially big hordes and above all the "Death" you can as a help use magic potions, which you can find next to the keys in the inventory of your character. These potions, easily to distinguish from the healing potions, can be collected and in need be activated by a press on the space key; they have an effect like a smart bomb in shoot'em up games, i.e. after activation all enemy sprites within the radius including the generators will be destroyed. As these potions are not in unlimited supply, they should be used sparingly; before using it, it is always worth to scroll as many evil guys as possible into the screen. Generally, you need to dose the fire low if a potion is in sight to not shoot it before collecting it. A smart bomb potion is activated straight away, a healing potion is simply gone.

The journey is the reward: If possible you should make yourself a picture of what you get into before opening doors, activating wall-disappearing mechanisms and teleporting. And do not be too greedy: Also treasure chests or goodies are partially limitations. If you take them away, you will sometimes walk directly into the trap that the level designer has concipated, e.g. by freeing the path to several "Deaths". If you can see ahead that you would bring your character into great peril, you should look out for a simpler way or try to push up the Health of both players with healing potions and food to a solid level. Very often there is more than one exit from the level. The one that is reached easiest, does spare you a lot of perils, but does only lead into the next level. If you choose the more complicated path, you will be confronted with dangers, but usually also rewarded with treasures, items and/or even an exit-to-level-x+; i.e. that you might jump some levels, so that you proceed faster if you choose the more difficult seeming path. If you play in twos and "lose each other"/"stray off" (player 1 and 2 go seperate ways and cannot find together again due to scrolling), either one of them can try to get killed or instead: see below! (Cheats). Don't forget: Flight is not a shame. As numerous as the enemies are, they are also equally stupid. In most situations you can outdistance or confuse them. It is only a bit daft when you are followed by "Deaths" in a narrow blind alley and you have no potion any more. But you should also not be too coward / quick: If e.g. an amulett (makes you invisible) is lying around and maybe a few other nice things are near (food, potions), you should not go too fast into the exit but take with you what is possible.

Shooting technique: But there are also a few survival tips concerning shooting. For once you should of course focus on the generators as fast as possible and after that the enemies swirling around. Only to push the highscore you could of course shoot the enemies coming out of the generators for hours. But as the game is already long enough and you might lose lives or points in the two-player mode anyway, this is rather lightheaded, particularly as the Health goes down permanently even without any influence from enemies. The diagonal shot is thereby especially important, as you can sometimes even shoot diagonally through walls with it. This way you can destroy generators and maybe after that (makes only then sense!) tidy up some of the enemies, before they have a chance to attack. But beware: If a generator is placed at such a diagonal passage, then enemies can also be created on the alleged safe side. Also, demons can shoot back diagonally.

Diagonal shot


In the multiplayer mode persistent players should be able to see the full 512 dungeons, as long as they die alternately. Because as long as the other player is still alive, the "deceased" can reanimate himself by pressing the fire button.


  • Simply just stand around for a minute and then all doors should open. And if you wait some more, all walls turn into exits. This comes in handy if you have misplanned something and have no keys left or if you have entered a dungeon that you do not like at all.
  • At least one version could be manipulated by pressing the fire button of the second joystick only when the energy of the player is almost used up. And then it goes on.


Anonymous author: "The utterly many monsters, the lead to boring and bothersome bashing and running away, were more annoying than fun. But all in all a good way to pass time."

TheRyk: "Gauntlet can be regarded as one of the first really good multiplayer action games which you could play almost forever. Communicating was crucial to move through one of the 512 levels some of which are not really created from scratch but are variants of earlier levels. The arcade players were supposed to stick to the machine and throw in coins as longs as possible, the home computer versions might have been better with less levels and more effort in terms of graphics and sound. The C64 version is not perfect but still great fun to play. I rate this mother of today's RPGs such as Diablo, World of Warcraft etc. 8 out of 10 points."

Robotron2084: "Well really no, this conversion just looks too poor for me with its reduced graphics and the juddering enemies. This probably had to be finished at the too early deadline and this is what it looks like. Butt ugly, stark and simply not good. 3 out of 10 points."

Equinoxe: "Might be the forerunner of Diablo and Co., but is only after a short time already more than boring. Together with my buddy we used to play that for hours and we had loads of fun during this meaningless massacres. Therefore still 6 out of 10 points."

Starkiller: "There are games that exclusively show their quality in the two player-mode. Amongst them is also the game Gauntlet. While you soon ask yourself 'What am I doing here?' when playing alone, it is answered very quickly when playing in twos: 'Knock everything down!'. I can only agree with the previous writers. But there were really more eye-friendly conversions..."


Gauntlet was orignally a very successful arcade machine for up to four players. According to this model, adaptions for many common home computer systems were created in the 80s. Some fans of the arcade machine version were disappointed given the results of the home computer versions, as those could not keep up with the arcade version especially concerning the sound. There were numerous follower games of which all were also released on the C64 up to Gauntlet III. But the followers were disappointing in the respect that they contained no more than a mass of newly designed levels. Real new features were rare, sound and graphics were hardly changed, so that only real fans were happy about them.

In the meantime there are successful conversions for the common game consoles of the new millennium with several parts. The newer 3D adaptations have not much in common with the original arcade game except for the characters. 2D-conversions which are closer to the original are rare for more recent systems, but available, e.g in the series "Midway Arcade Treasures". It might also be interesting for retro fans to know that are finally also different (if rather superficial) story plots. E.g. in "Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows" (3D-version for XBox) it says that the heroes were banned due to treason and need to fight their way through the dungeons to avoid the dark world domination of the demons.





Topscore of Equinoxe Junior
  1. Equinoxe Junior - 96.331 (02.06.2012)
  2. Equinoxe - 95.219 (01.04.2013)
  3. Werner - 78.450 (26.12.2012)
  4. TheRyk - 32.732 (13.08.2010)

#2 Equinoxe #3 Werner
#2 Equinoxe #3 Werner


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