"Gauntlet" Released 30 Years Ago
One of the classic multi-player arcade game machines of the time, Gauntlet caused a stir when it was released 30 years ago in 1985 by Atari. The first dungeon-based multi-player fantasy game would go on to win the title for Game of the Year at the 1986 London Golden Joystick Awards. In total, Atari sold 7,848 Gauntlet arcade cabinets.
There are four characters for gamers to select: the Warrior, the Wizard, the Valkyrie, or the Elf. There are specific advantages offered by each character. The Warrior has extreme strength, the Wizard has magic, the Valkyrie has the most protective shield armor and the Elf is the fastest.
The characters must work together to go through each level and reach the exit, while fighting enemies such as ghosts, demons and thieves. The characters have a health measure, which slowly drains as the level progresses, requiring them to keep moving to finish in time. If a character dies, they can receive another life if the gamer inserts an additional coin. The players control their characters with a joystick and two buttons each.
Ed Logg, an Atari designer, conceived the game after gaining inspiration from watching his son play Dungeons & Dragons in paper form. Working with Robert Zeigler, the game development timeline spanned two years, from 1983 to 1985. While the game was originally called Dungeons, legal issues caused them to switch to Gauntlet before the release.
The game was unique in using advanced hardware, including a synthesizer voice chip, which made Gauntlet the first Atari coin-operated arcade cabinet with voiceover sound. This may be the lasting reputation of the game, as the spoken line “Red warrior needs food badly,” was called the third best game phrase ever, according to Electronic Gaming Monthly.
As of December 2013, Russ Cool from Hanover, Pennsylvania holds the world record in Gauntlet points, scoring 5.1 million. Head to your local classic arcade and try your hand at the three decade-old Atari classic arcade.