Matt Chat 19: Gauntlet

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Matt Barton's picture

Here it is guys, the long-awaited 19th episode of Matt Chat featuring "Gauntlet" from Atari games. I learned a lot about the game in preparing this video, particularly that it was basically a rip-off of an earlier Atari 8-bit game called "Dandy," which had an almost identical setup.

Apparently Dandy's author was about to sue, but Atari appeased him by giving him a Gauntlet arcade cabinet (ah, those were the good old days!). Anyway, Gauntlet is still one of the best 4-player arcade and "party" games out there, so give it a watch and crank it up with your wife and/or children. Hint: A dual X-arcade is a great way to share gaming with your significant other; try it out and let me know if one game leads to another! :P

Whew! This one took me over 24 hours to film, edit, render, and publish!! Totally insane!! There is some big problems with my setup somewhere, even though Sony Vegas is supposed to be the most stable editing solution out there. Argh!

Comments

planetheidi (not verified)
Actually, I liked Dandy more

Was an avid Atari 8bitter back in the day - loved Dandy when it came out and played it incessantly with my friends. In some ways, it was superior to Gauntlet - cleaner, simpler, and more focused. Also, because it was on a home computer, you could play at home with your tribe.

yakumo9275
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I loooved gauntlet dark

I loooved gauntlet dark legends on ps2 was awesome!

I remember in the PC version, it never seemed possible to kill the dragon (I think it was G2)...

mmm good times, great memories! bowling alleys with friends on this. I always chose the valkyrie or the archer.

Green Archer Needs Food Badly

-- Stu --

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Mark Vergeer
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My video response to Matt Chat no 19

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Rowdy Rob
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Many comments, Dandy and Dark Legends.

First of all, the usual kudos, Matt. It was surprising to see your wife playing with you in a videogame. For the record, she is surprisingly attractive for the wife of a geek. (No offense intended, Matt, but as a red-blooded male, I can't help but notice.) :-)

As an avid Atari 8-bit loyalist/pirate back in the day, I'm surprised that I have no recollection of "Dandy" for that platform. I'm sure I probably played it at some point, but it probably seemed to primitive compared to the other state-of-the-art games.

There was an Atari 8-bit port of "Gauntlet," if my recollection serves, but I recall the Atari-8 version as being very monochromatic, with each level being various shades of one color, as opposed to the very cool and colorful C64 version. There are a wide variety of technical reasons why this is so (the way the Atari 8-bits handled color as opposed to the C64), but the end result is that the c64 version was superior. Still, I played the Atari version a fair bit.

I played the arcade version of "Gauntlet" on occasion, but never got very far. I think I had the Amiga verision of Gauntlet also, but I don't think I got much further on that version either. I did pump quite a few quarters in "Dark Legacy," though, but I fared about the same in that version.

I guess "Gauntlet," in whatever incarnation, was just too limited to satisfy my RPG itch, but too hard as a shooter for me to progress far enough in. Still, it was a very cool D&D/RPG adaptation for the coin-op world. It deserves its "classic" status.

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Matt Barton
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Heheh, thanks for the

Heheh, thanks for the compliments, Rob!

I hear you about Gauntlet's simplicity. That's why I think it is important to play it with friends; it just isn't nearly as much fun alone. Sorta like artillery games like Worms. Sure, you CAN play it alone, and some do, but it becomes exponentially more fun when you add people to the mix.

In any case, I've always been a big fan of cooperative play, and Gauntlet is a great early example of it.

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adamantyr
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Gauntlet

Gauntlet ate a lot of quarters from me in the old days... funny enough, playing it on MAME actually killed satisfaction with it for me. The fact I could insert unlimited virtual quarters and the realization that the game just went on forever eventually bored me to tears with it.

I didn't have a chance to play many of the computer versions of Gauntlet... I read a review about the TRS-80 Color Computer version (called "Gantelet") and played it a little, it ran all right but very slowly compared to the arcade game... enough that it became more tactical than action. For my TI-99/4a, no Gauntlet clone existed except one that I saw at a TI faire, put together by a brilliant programmer named Quinton Tormanean. He wrote several impressive arcade games for the TI and then abruptly disappeared... I think he's working here in Seattle somewhere now. Anyway, his Gauntlet Clone "Gold Vault" was very impressive because the maps were so large I got lost, but it was a work in progress, and I still kick myself today that I didn't ask for a copy of it...

The Tengen Nintendo was all right, but they turned it into a strategy/action CRPG, and it had considerable differences in appearance from the original. A few years later they put out a pretty close copy of the original Arcade game. The best console version I ever saw, though, was the Sega Genesis version... fantastically done. I especially liked the music option, something the original arcade game lacked.

There's a great page with a bunch of CoCo games, incidentally, you can find here: http://nitros9.lcurtisboyle.com/

Adamantyr

Peter F (not verified)
wayback

Oh man, this takes me back. I remember playing the original Gauntlet in a little convenience store near the pier in San Clemente, CA. I was usually the elf. I really enjoyed your analysis of the economics behind the game design, which of course never occurred to me when I was ten. Excellent production values on your video, BTW -- watching it full screen feels like cable.

clok1966
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my attempt at fame

Before i start, sorry this is long and probebly quite boring.

Back in 86 (err i believe it was 86) I attempted the "world record" on guantlet. Now keep in mind there was very little recourses to confirm world records and the like back then. I had a game magazine (do not rember which) that listed the Guantlet "record", be it for that mag or "world" i had no idea. The local gas stop had a machine in the very back by the bathrooms and I would play it after school (collage), most of the time I would quit after 2-3 hours (ya, much better stuff to do, but ....) I had played a few times for 8+ hours. Again understand I had no concept of operator settings. I did know there where different versions (this machine was the original v1). Some things to note, I heard you mention the Elf as best character, after V4 he was, but before it ... Not so sure. V4 they upped his melee (basicly almost as strong as warrior!!!), he was a pansy (almost as weak as wiz in hand to hand in early versions). He has a very fast rate of fire, but arrows where weak (weakest ranged attack in game, but fastest, so it pretty much made up for the lack of power). Problem was, in some levels (ghost ones normaly) His melee reallly hurt him (his speed on foot "almost" made up for it). And of course his magic was good (again, this almost made up for the shortcommings (i precieved)). Hmm after reading what i just typed, he may be best character (again, after V4). I myslef liked the valkyre (after V4 pretty much considered the "weak" character, but I did all my playing on V1). She had avg Melee, could shoot at angles through cracks (very very important) had ok ranged attack power, avg magic. In group i prefered the warrior as you could 'almost" melee any monster in the game (but ghosts) and take no damage (if you could lure them to a 2 wide path). His ranged was excellent dmg, but to slow.

Well back to my attempt at video game fame. I talked with store and local news station and both agreed to my 'attempt" Store fenced off game, even put some posters up (and yes I even had a few spectators!). Local news station did a bit on me (right before I started) and left a camera to record it all and a guy to swap tapes and watch the camera (he had zero interest in the game as far as i could tell). They said they would show it on the news when i was done. Now knowing what i know, the game was on default settings for V1 (1000 health a quarter, and 1000 health a food), later versions (v4 or 7ish) lowered it to 800 and 600 ... I do believe the lowest defualt was 600 (but could be set lower by operator). So it was easier, but not "to easy". Also i had no idea on rules or whatever to make it a record, i figured a video tape and a picture of my score would be enough (maybe it would have been?). Had no idea on breaks (nature and food), etc.. This was all seat of my pants.

So i started at 8AM on a saturday, did my quick interview for the TV station (sad, as they where so clueless and had no idea waht i was doing, the reporter didnt even know the name of the game, it was just a "video game") she talked to me about 1 minute, more about what i was in school for and my hometown then anything. As I started they did a little bit in the background, but I wasnt really listening. The store had put a small table by the machine and a chair (couldnt really sit and play this game, maybe a barstool would have worked). They offered me some free pop and snacks (nice of them, but i wasnt thinking about bathroom when i was drinking free pop!). I drank to much pop to start, i was a bit excited and not thinking. Bathroom was close so that was easy, but i had to make sure i was on the correct level, one i could clear and just stand at exit and let health tick while i went to bathroom. I soon ran into my second problem. bathroom breaks, and parents with small kids in store. A fenced off area ment nothing to a small child, and mister Camera man was not paying any attention. one trip to a bathroom, i came back to a small (3?) child attempting to play the wizard (lucky he didnt grab the valk). I reliased i needed a "bouncer". buddy stopped by to see how i was doing. Instant protection when i was away (much to his excitment.. stand and watch me play, wouldnt you all want to?). Around noon i had wonderfull gas stop hotdog!, so 4 hours down, all was well, had beuil up enouhg health i could leave hte machine a couple hours if i needed (my plan was going as long as i could and possibly taking a short nap.. I dont think that would work for any "official" recordes, but i sure didnt know). The day went pretty good, had 20-40 people stop, most didnt talk to me, a few asked some questions. The Reporter stopped again about 5PM, did some stuff in background (sounded like "he is still going" and such). Ate a sub from the sub shop right next to us (machine was basicly just sitting for about 10 minutes, health ticking away on level i cleared). About this time my friend was pretty sick of sitting, so said he would get another friend to come, he was done. Other friend showed up about 2 hours later (was getting excited as need bathroom, but was leary of leaving machine again). Was about 11PM when the whole deal came to a screaching halt. bathroom break. had just entered the maze with the diagnol walls (basicly just a zig zag with a teleporter or two so you have to cover entier playfield).. Entered level , cleared threat, new i was safe to hit bathroom. When i came out of bathroom my buddy was looking like somebody shot his puppy. He has played while i was gone, moved ahead a bit and was shooting throuhg the cracks. Well anybody remeberes the original joysticks.. if they had been used a bit sometimes it was tricky to get them pointed to shoot through cracks. he had done a little of the "abuse it" method and the joystick no longer would go up. I messed around praying enouhg force, angle, anything and i could limp along for a bit, Build my score with the life i had left (several hours if no mobs hit me) but no dice. And i was on a level i couldnt let respawns keep comming and increase score while i waited out health. I had been to efficent in my clear for safety, no monster generators in view and since i couldnt go up, i couldnt move into view of any to get some points.

Strangly enough at that time i was more worried about the TV people being annoyed. I really didnt want to tell camera man it was over ( he still had no clue, he was sorta off in dreamland, to this day i dont think he actually watched me play for single second). But after about 10 minutes of wishfull thinking, and my psyic powers no able to "wish " a joystick back nto working order i gave up, told him the stick was busted, told the store girl who (surprisingly) offered to call the amusment vendor to see if he could fix it. We did try this, nobody answered, but she knew somebody wo worked for company and we called them. This was about midnight so it was sorta bad to be calling but it somewaht worked. He got ahold of guy who fixed the machines, he called us at store. No idea if it was BS or true but he said he could proebebly fix the stick (now days i understand it was just a leaf or micro switch) but was unsure if dared to. I am pretty sure he just didnt want to, and I didnt press.

So 15 hours for nothing. And to be honest after that, i had no interest in trying again. Up to that point I believe I may have played 1 time to about 8 hours before i bored, got to tired or whatever and went home. SO this was a bit of a "long" session for me, even with my love of the game. Nowdays i would gladly try again (if i could find the time, and a machine, I do have a mame machine but its just not the same), but at that time I had had enough for a bit.

I do consider Guantlet, Tempest, Disc fof Tron and I robot as my favorite games of the 80's Incedently I could also play Pacman till the screen split ( it was only game in my hometown for about a year so.. Lots of time spent playing it, and all was self taught, no walkthrouhgs back then, just lots (more then I would care to admit) quarters. I think Guantlet , Tempest, and Pacman are the only games I can basicly play for what most would consider forever. Well let me state, "could play" I do not remeber all the Pac man patterns anymore. My reactions are much to slow for tempest anymore. guantlet, yes I still play it about 2-3 times a year for a an hour or two, even with the health set at 800 i can hold on for a long time (more time then Im willing to play).

Ok back to much more exciting reading.

Mark Vergeer
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Cool story! Wow!

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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It's irritating to think

It's irritating to think that your friend and those small kids (or, more specifically, their parents) couldn't show more respect for your effort.

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