The 1985 arcade game Gauntlet is a classic that stands out as a terrific early example of multiplayer gaming done right. The cooperative four-player arcade game was successful at throwing hordes of monsters your way, forcing the four players to fight their way through grunts, ghosts, sorcerers, and, of course, Death himself. Gauntlet has made its way to what feels like a million different platforms since its original release, and now it's available on your cell phone. This new mobile version plays a surprisingly accurate game of Gauntlet, though it's missing one of the original game's key features--multiplayer.
Perhaps it's a bit much to demand multiplayer games on your mobile phone. Some games have provided effective Bluetooth support for multiplayer gaming, and a few others allow for over-the-air multiplayer. But regardless of the technical limitations, the one thing that made the original game a classic was its four-player capability. Without that, this version of Gauntlet is still perfectly playable--in fact it's a great mobile game--but fans of the original won't be able to shake the feeling that something's missing.
Gauntlet is a fast-paced dungeon crawl. Each level is a maze of sorts, and it's up to you to fight your way through to the end. Standing in your way is a variety of enemies. You can fight them by pushing up against them, but your most effective weapon is a projectile attack. You can also pick up potions and use them to clear out most of the enemies onscreen. Potions are also the only way to kill Death, who shows up and sucks some of your health away. If you run out of health, you're allowed to continue from the level you died at.
Gauntlet lets you take control of one of four characters, each with his or her own strengths and weaknesses. The warrior, as you might expect, is the strongest fighter, but his magic abilities are low. The wizard is a weakling, but his fireball attack is the strongest normal shot in the game, and his potion powers are also the best. The valkyrie essentially splits the difference between these two classes, offering a good deal of fight power and respectable magic abilities. The elf is pretty weak, but he's fast. In a multiplayer game, this meant the elf could eat all the food and grab all the treasure. Without that facet of the gameplay, though, the elf is pretty much worthless.
Graphically, this version of Gauntlet does a surprising job of rendering the arcade classic. The graphics have been scaled down a bit, but the original levels are intact, and the game runs at a pretty fast pace on Series 60 handsets. The sound, however, is a bit more impressive. The game's title screen music is here, as is the music that plays between levels and the tune that plays in treasure rooms. Most of the sound effects are generic bleeps and bloops, but the sound side is saved by the inclusion of some speech samples from the original game. They are few and far between, and the variety of phrases has been understandably cut back, but it's nice to hear "That was a heroic effort" or "Wizard...is about to die" at the appropriate times.
The game's lack of multiplayer aside, Gauntlet is a great action game that runs better than most similar games on the mobile platform. If you're a fan of the original or if you're just looking for a fast-moving action game, Gauntlet's worth a download.