1985……… no, not the ghastly song by Bowling for Soup, but the year a game by the name of Gauntlet took the video game industry by storm. If you haven’t played or at least heard of Gauntlet, then it’s apparent you haven’t been a gamer for very long. It was released when RPGs were first spreading to the mainstream crowd, arcades were still in full bloom, and Duran Duran was the bomb. While Duran Duran is still the bomb, the gaming world has gone through a great deal of transformation since the mid-80s. You’d be hard-pressed to find an arcade in most cities nowadays, much less an arcade boasting Gauntlet. Lest not worry, for Xbox Live Arcade has this classic in-stock and ready for action. This time around, you won’t need to pilfer digs to play it.
Gauntlet’s gameplay premise can be summed up in one simple phrase: dungeon crawler. With ghosts and ghouls, daggers and arrows, this is where the groundwork for this now popular genre was set. Just like most hack-‘n’-slash titles on the market today, you can select from an assortment of roles prior to starting your massive, one-hundred level quest. You can play as a warrior, valkyrie, wizard, or elf. The game also gives you the opportunity to play as all four characters simultaneously if you’re planning on hightailing it to a co-op match over Xbox Live. Speaking of online capabilities, this is where this particular rendition of Gauntlet will give gamers that bang they look for when they slap down a few bucks.
My above comment, ‘’massive, one-hundred level quest’’ may have been a tad ambiguous. A good deal of levels can be completed in less than ten seconds, and, in addition, you can take multiple shortcuts to skip stages if you wish. There’s also a glitch (not truly a glitch as it was purposely incorporated) where you are able to wait out levels. This simply means you can make progress through the game while your controller is down and you’re sipping on an ice-cold Pepsi. However, I must notify you that every stage you’ll have to get up and press forward to saunter into an entrance after the preset time (around five minutes of waiting each level) is up.
I’m not going to stress Gauntlet’s productions values in this review. Reason being is it’s a port of a twenty year-old game. Expect washed-out textures, animations that don’t flow, character modeling where you can’t tell the gender, and sound that’s abysmal. It wasn’t given any type of visual or auditory overhaul, and for the nostalgia freaks, that’s a good thing.
Whether you’re a young RPG lover who wants to see where it all began, or an elder who wants to relive their glory days, you need to immediately dish out five bones and give Gauntlet a whirl. It doesn’t reek with glossy presentation, overkill violence, or profanity, yet it’s perhaps the most risqué game you’ll ever play. It’s hard to describe, so for contrast, it’s similar to Brisk Iced-Tea – raw and delicious.