Information for the following ROM(s): gauntlet gauntletr1 gauntletr2 gauntletr4 gauntletr5 gauntletr7 gauntletr9 gauntlets gauntletg gauntletgr3 gauntletgr6 gauntletgr8 gauntj12 gauntletj gauntlet2p gauntlet2pr3 gauntlet2pj gauntlet2pj2
|Gauntlet was released in October 1985.|
Gauntlet was originally going to be called 'Dungeons' and was inspired not only by TSR's tabletop RPG, 'Dungeons & Dragons', but also by another Atari game called 'Dandy'. Dandy's creator, Jack Palevich, tried fruitlessly to get his name added to the list of credits in Gauntlet. In lieu of public recognition, Atari Games Corp gave Pelvich a Gauntlet cabinet, and he in turn agreed not to sue Atari.
Two character names were changed before release. The Valkyrie was originally named 'Amazon' and the Warrior was 'Hulk'" The first character art was produced on January 1, 1984.
Gauntlet's revolutionary, non-linear game-play gave players multiple choices, as they were no longer forced into taking a linear route through the game. Like 'Dungeons & Dragons', Gauntlet players could choose their own path, searching for keys, treasures, food and transporters to take them to other levels. Unlike most other games at the time, the player didn't always have to fight; a simpler route through the dungeon could sometimes be found, or players could simply try to make a run for it.
In the early '80s, arcades were struggling. Manufacturers created more elaborate games that operators could charge more money for ($.50!), but players were resistant to the increase. The question at Atari was: How do we get extra earnings? The idea with Gauntlet was that with four players you earn four times as much with every play. It was a drop-in/drop-out design so if someone died they could immediately rejoin or someone new could step in -- there was no down time, so the quarters just kept coming. Another choice made specifically to increase the coin drop: there was no end to the game. Gauntlet would recycle levels by flipping them horizontally and vertically once the players had run through all of them. Gauntlet was a big success in 1985. But the marketing team at Atari was actually worried about the four-player cabinet. They weren't sure four strangers would want to play a game together and they also had concerns about the four separate coin shoots (which were known to break easily). Confident in his game, Ed Logg convinced the marketing team to just go with it.
Another Gauntlet milestone was in the game's use of sound effects. Synthesized human voices had been used sporadically in games in the early eighties and while it had proved, on most occasions, to be moderately successful, was still considered something of a novelty. Gauntlet, however, revolutionized the concept of in-game speech and added immeasurably to the game's superb atmosphere. The deep timbre of Gauntlet's very own 'Dungeon Master' would guide players through the levels, informing them that 'Elf needs food, badly', or that 'Wizard is about to die' and the always-good advice that is 'Remember, don't shoot food.'
Note: The game contains exactly 212 sounds (including digitized voices, effects and musics).
It was common practice to test a new arcade game at select locations before wide release. The operator was given the cabinet for free, but in exchange they couldn't promote it (as a precaution against competition) and they would share the coin drop numbers of it and all the other machines at the location so that Atari could evaluate the new game's success against current games. But when Ed Logg came by to check on Gauntlet during its field test, he found developers from SEGA snapping photos of the cabinet. Atari pulled it from that location and didn't work with the operator henceforth. A year after Gauntlet's release in 1985, SEGA released a four-player arcade game called "Quartet" (although it was side-scrolling).
7,848 units were sold in the U.S. A few thousand more were sold in Japan and Europe. Even though Atari considered Gauntlet a success, earlier games like "Space Invaders" and "Ms. Pac-Man" sold hundreds of thousands of cabinets. One of Gauntlet's contemporaries from Atari, the excellent Temple of Doom game, sold just 2,800 copies.
Note : There were 20 officially released versions (see Updates section for detailed info), including 6 '2-player' versions and various Spanish, German and Japanese versions. Counting 4-player English variants alone, there were 7 releases with various bug-fixes.
The default high score screen of "Cyberball 2072" features names of many Atari arcade games, including GAUNTLET.
Charles Nagle holds the official record for this game with 4,401,169 points on March 28, 2003.
Pony Canyon / Scitron released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (That's Atari Music Vol.II : G.S.M. Atari Games 2 - PCCB-00070) on September 21, 1991.
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