W hat do cavemen, blobs of jelly and skeletons all have in common? They all live in dungeons of course. I have no idea why – or who built all these dungeons, or even what for, but they are always there anyway. Gauntlet has the original arcade adventure dungeon and US Gold have here succeeded in maintaining its reputation as the original and the best. Everything you could ever want from a dark hole in the ground is here, and more. In fact, there is a massive 512 levels – so this is a very large hole in the ground indeed. Gauntlet II is light on superfluous scenario and heavy on action. Let us face it, you do not have to have all this explained to you, do you? FIND THE TREASURE AND STAY ALIVE. Which means collecting food and drink to keep you alive, amulets with stranger powers than Mystic Meg and potions to assist your magic power, amongst others.
You can choose from four distinct characters: Warrior, Valkyrie, Elf and Wizard (in descending order of muscle and ascending order of magic). This comes in particular handy, as you have the option to play with up to four people if you interface with the printer port. A handy feature if you have that many joysticks and can fit that number of people round your monitor.
The monsters are reasonably various and the lesser ones often have to have generators destroyed to stop them regrouping to cause you more trouble next time you pass that location. The ‘it’ monster is a nice touch. If you have the misfortune to come into contact with this glowing sphere (which you almost certainly will) all the nasties on that level will become attracted to you. The result being that they steam into you like a Wimbledon team which has not been fed for three weeks. You can transfer this affliction by touching one of your companions, making them ‘it’. Needless to say, it does wonders for group loyalty as all other objectives go to the wall as you furiously chase each other around.
Graphically, Gauntlet’s dungeon is excellent. Effortless omni-scrolling, well-defined sprites and all manner of walls and floorplans to make each distinct from all the others. The on-top view means you are limited to a view of the top of your character’s bonce, but this pales into insignificance against the virtue of crisp definition, which Gauntlet II has to the highest level. The same goes for the sound – at last it is all there and sampled from the coin-op, too.
Since the first Gauntlet has never been available on the Amiga, this is the obvious choice if you want to buy one definitive arcade D&D game on 16-bit. For unabashed playability Gauntlet II is unbeatable.
CU Amiga, February 1989, p.20