Gauntlet: reborn classics

Another old game we picked up off the Xbox Live Arcade service. But does Gauntlet live up to our memories? Er...

The original Gauntlet

In retrospect, part of what made Gauntlet great in the arcades all those years ago was the size of your pocket. Because even the rich kids could only feed the hungry machine so many coins, and thus get so many health boosts in return. And as a subsequent result of that, very few people really got to play Gauntlet long enough to get bored of it.

Taking it out of its natural habitat and porting the entire original coin-op to a home machine – such as the Xbox Live Arcade service – therefore presents a problem. Because while nostalgia can easily get three or four players through half an hour of Gauntlet, it really does become repetitive a lot quicker than rose-tinted spectacles would allow you to be believe. More damning than that, it soon becomes dull.

It’s a shame, too. Few games in its era could rival Gauntlet in multiplayer, but gaming really has moved on a lot further than you may be inclined to give it credit for. Thus, while scurrying around the mazes of Gauntlet, hunting for potions, shooting ghosts, trying to shut down the monster generators while looking for the exit (and picking up the odd slab of meat along the way), the game used to, and still does, provide a valuable lesson in the highs and lows of co-operative gameplay. That just about gets it through its asking price on the Live Arcade service.

In single player, as to be fair Gauntlet always was, it’s now pretty much a waste of time. It was never a dish to be employed alone, and it certainly isn’t now. It’s also a great gaming name from the past that, sadly, belongs there. The constant attempts to reimagine the game as a 3D hack and slash of sorts over the years have failed perhaps for a reason. And that’s that maybe Gauntlet had its day, enjoyed it, and should now be allowed to enjoy its retirement in peace.

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2 out of 5