The Many Incarnations of Gauntlet

First Published January 2008

This article is part of a series I call “The Many Incarnations of… ”, a column which will chronicle the different game titles that have been released over the years featuring a central character or theme. Pac-Man is here to provide “color commentary,” and Professor Pac-Man is on hand with interesting tidbits of trivia about each game!


From the Flyer: Gauntlet incorporates many of the attractive characteristics of today's popular fantasy role-playing games. The medieval theme provides an exciting setting for players to act out fantasies of non-stop combat and conquest. Four quarters at once! Gauntlet is a revolution! It's a new multiple-player add-a-coin concept that brings operators maximum earnings power. Up to four players can play at the same time. New players can enter a game in progress at any time. The cast of characters - The heroes: THOR the Warrior, THYRA the Valkyrie, MERLIN the Wizard and QUESTOR the Elf. The Villains: Ghosts, Grunts, Demons, Lobbers, Sorcerers, Death, The Thief. The action begins as the player(s) choose a character to portray and enter the game by depositing the correct amount of coins in the slot corresponding to each of the four heroes. Each of the four characters has many unique capabilities. For example, THYRA the Valkyrie has strong armor, THOR the Warrior is skilled at hand-to-hand combat, QUESTOR the Elf has the fastest speed, and MERLIN the Wizard, the best magic. Super fast action play stresses cooperation. The object of the game is to survive the monster attacks for as long as possible while competing for food, treasure and magic potions. Players must also search the maze to find the exit to the next level. Playing as a team gives players the best chance for survival. How long a player lasts depends upon the player's “health.” Health is lost by contact with the monsters and as a function of elapsed time. A hundred different mazes! Gauntlet has unlimited play depth. At level one, players will find exits going to other levels. Players may choose to exit level one and jump as far ahead as level 8. On level 8 and beyond, players will find themselves on any one of over one hundred different mazes. More options, more profits. Comprehensive coin accounting and statistic package in self-test. Auto High Score Table reset. The Table will automatically be reset to the factory scores and initials after every 2000 games, but no less than 200 games since the last player entered initials. Eight different difficulty settings. Thirty-two different health-per-coin settings ranging from 100 to 2000 units. Initial buy-in can be set for 1, 2, 3 or 4 coins.

Sure wish I could have been joined by the Ms., Super Pac-Man or Junior. That would have evened the odds in the old maze don't ya think? Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Gauntlet revolutionized the concept of in-game speech. The essence of the Dungeon Master himself would guide players through the levels, informing them that 'Elf needs food, badly', or that 'Blue Wizard is about to die'. The Dungeon Master also offered advice and witticisms like 'Don't shoot food' and 'I've not seen such bravery!'

Gauntlet II

From the Flyer: The phenomenon continues. All new game play featuring over 100 new mazes, more new monsters and unique player objectives. Including the original outstanding Gauntlet buy-in and add-a-coin features to encourage multiple coin play. All new game play! In addition to over 100 new maze layouts, many randomizing maze features have been included to provide further variety for players. There are several new features and hidden strategies to be found in each maze. Players will especially like the additional game play objective of Gauntlet II's Secret Rooms. By completing a special secret trick a player is allowed to enter the Secret Room. (The other players in the game are temporarily suspended from play). If he completes the task he is given, the player is rewarded with a large bonus score as well as permanent potions and food. All of the original Gauntlet opponents remain with the addition of many new creatures. Among the newest adversaries is the Dragon. The fire-breathing Dragon is found guarding the exit to the maze and requires several direct hits to overcome. By slaying the Dragon players are rewarded with a permanent potion and a bag of treasure. At the start of the next maze there will be a hint on how to find the Secret Room. Players will find several new potions to collect as well as all of the original potions. Experience will tell the player which potions provide the greatest advantage; some potions may not be beneficial depending on the situation. On Gauntlet II, a player can now choose his favorite original Gauntlet character even if that hero is already in play. The four characters are color coded so there can be as many as four Warriors (or any other original character) in play at the same time.

I can do four different colors too: Red - when I'm mad, Blue - when I'm sad, Green with Envy and Yellow - well, what can I say, it's natural. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Atari held a promotional competition that coincided with Gauntlet II's debut. If the player followed the instructions the game gave them before entering a secret room, the player would be greeted with a screen explaining that they had been awarded extra points and inviting the them to enter his or her name. A six-digit code would then be given which the player could put onto a competition entry form. The first 500 entries drawn won Gauntlet II T-shirts, plus a chance of winning a $5000 savings bond. The contest ended in 1986.

Gauntlet Legends

From the Flyer: Taking the world by storm. Gauntlet Legends. You've never seen anything like it. Amazing. Bold. Deep. Beautiful. The Warrior's wrath cuts deeper than the mightiest blade. With nerves of steel, beware the fool that crosses the Valkyrie. Powerful. Innovative. Addictive. The Archer will not stop until her homeland has been restored. The heat of the burning sun is no match for the Wizard's fire. 35 unique power ups. Secret characters. 5th bonus world! Run the Gauntlets. Two great configurations give you the maximum earning power. Features: four player stations, four incredible worlds, countless secrets, over 50 unique enemies, 5 amazing boss characters and awesome earning potential.

Okay Prof, I can't put this off any longer, what the in the name of Blinky is a Valkyrie? And don't say 'a female warrior' or next time I just may chomp first and ask my question later. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Valkyrie - from Old Norse 'valkyrja' which translates literally as 'chooser of the slain'; one of the 12 war-maidens who escorted the brave dead to Valhalla.

Gauntlet Dark Legacy

From the Flyer: Adventure beyond the legend... Gauntlet Dark Legacy. Step into the world of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy and prepare for an adventure. Built on the strength of Gauntlet: Legends, Dark Legacy takes the action to a new dimension with new characters, new realms, new combos and improved graphics. Four new characters join forces with the original four Legends characters to explore and battle their way through eight realms of gameplay. The Mountain, Desert, Forest and Castle Realms have been updated to match the depth and complexity of the four new realms... Ice, Town, Sky and Dream. There is also a bonus Battlefield Realm. Multi-player gameplay has been enhanced by allowing two players to work together to activate special moves with new combos. In addition, Dark Legacy is full of secret codes and passwords that give special access to alternate characters and many other surprises. Take the thrill of the Gauntlet legend to a whole new level with Gauntlet: Dark Legacy.

As if having four characters to choose from wasn't enough, they decided to go and add four more! Now the player has the daunting task of choosing between a Warrior, an Archer, a Valkyrie, a Wizard, a Dwarf, a Knight, a Jester, and a Sorceress! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Starting in 1998 with Gauntlet Legends the game's characters were made a little more sexually balanced by changing Questor the Elf character to a female Archer.

Beyond the Arcades

1990 - Gauntlet: The Third Encounter
1991 - Gauntlet III: The Final Quest
1993 - Gauntlet IV- 1993
2005 - Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

Suddenly I hear a strange voice that declares “Pac-Man needs food badly!”- oh wait, that was just my stomach. Wocka! Wocka!

* This article is only a listing of known unique game titles. It does not cover clones of released titles, nor will it list the various platforms the titles have appeared on. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive reference listing, and should be viewed only as the recreational offering it was intended to be. Game descriptions, game titles and registered trademarks mentioned herein are properties of their respective owners.