Producer: US Gold
Retail Price: £7.99
Author: Tony Porter
This is the age of the sequel - Gauntlet II follows US Gold's phenomenally successful Gauntlet just over a year after the original's release.
Here, four brave warriors wait to battle against virtually insurmountable odds in a desperate bid for freedom.
Each has different attributes and characteristics. Thor is well-armoured and a fine fighter but has poor magic skills; Thyra has more magic, but is not such a strong fighter; the wizard Merlin has of course excellent magic, but carries no armour and cannot fight well either; and Questor is an elf with some fighting skills, armour and very good magic.
You can choose any one of these characters to undertake the dangerous course that leads them to ever-higher levels on a perilous mission beset by a myriad of monsters.
Generators release the villainous monsters into the labyrinthine 100 levels of dungeons through which our heroes journey.
The stock of devilish bogeymen includes disappearing ghosts, club-wielding grunts, fireball-shooting demons, rock-hurling lobbers, sorcerers and super sorcerers, floor-covering acid puddles and Death himself, who can only be fought with magic.
Further evil distractions include the IT monster, which can transform a warrior into R by touch alone; and the THAT, which can deprive any warrior of his powers and potions as well as taking away 100 valuable health points.
Should a warrior choose not to fight against the fiendish flocks and dally for 30 seconds, locked doors are opened, and more monsters which lurk waiting behind them are released upon their hapless victim.
But the flow of monsters can be halted by destroying the generators.
Among the heroes' weapons are ten super shots which can take out any monster in their path; reflective shots that can be fired around comers; and glowing red transporters which take their occupant to the nearest location containing another transporter.
And special potions found in the dungeons of Gauntlet II confer upon the user increased armour, magic, shot power and speed, and improve a warrior's ability to pick up items and amulets which temporarily give him special powers. Food and cider restore a warrior's health.
Sometimes potions can be found in the treasure chests which are scattered through the subterranean netherworld and which can be that for points - but beware. Other caskets are dangerous, containing only Death.
Keys also lie upon the dungeon floors, and at random moments treasure rooms appear. A warrior must then enter the treasure room and collect as many valuables as possible before time runs out.
But there are obstacles all around. Walls can prove impenetrable, though some can be blasted out of existence; force fields, which drain health points, are effective periodically and cannot be destroyed; traps can make walls disappear when triggered; and stun tiles temporarily knock out those who step upon them.
Some exits are easily reached, but others move about continuously, or are fake, being no more than painted floor tiles.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: small and effective, but no improvement over the original's
Sound: poor collision effects; lacks a decent tune
Options: choice of four players
The small graphics and dismal tuneless sound just aren't worth it, and Gauntlet II is pointlessly similar to the original Gauntlet -the same idea, the same graphics, but not the same CRASH Smash!
Hacking a path through hordes of hell-fiends should provide greater entertainment than this. Certainly, the potential is there: the instructions do much to set the grisly scene and create a hack 'n 'slay atmosphere, and the presentation is subtly effective. Unfortunately, this subtlety goes too far when it comes to sound - bleeps and peeps simper apologetically as your character cuts, slashes and chops, each squeak too quiet and indistinguishable from the others. The characters and monsters are sharply drawn and move well, but the colour scheme is a little bland - more plain dull than evocatively sombre. Gauntlet II isn't much of an improvement on the original, just different, and the differences don't merit buying the sequel if you've got Gauntlet.
Gauntlet was a great arcade conversion, it was expanded by The Deeper Dungeons (extra levels which could be bought and added to the basic game), and Gauntlet II will add to this elite group of classics. It follows the same lines as its predecessor, but has some original qualities too - such as the useful option to bring in a second fighter when you need one. And new hazards and foes present new problems, giving this sequel a feel of its own.
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