Reviewed by John Davison jnr


Issue 29

Sep/Oct 87

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U.S. Gold
Price 24.95

The much awaited ST version of this excellent game has finally arrived. Many months of waiting are finally over, so was it worth the wait? The eight bit version was reviewed in issue twenty eight and was given a not very favourable review. Is the ST version any better, then? Well, yes and no.

Graphically and sound wise the game is superb, but U.S. Gold have yet again failed to iron out the bugs. Purchasers of the game on the various eight bit formats persistently complained to U.S. Gold about the bugs, through letters to the company itself, and through letters to various other computer publications such as 'Computer and Video Games'. This I would have thought would be an incentive to actually get it right this time. But I fear that yet again many, so very obvious, bugs have managed to get through what should have been quite rigorous play testing. Bugs such as suddenly having two of yourself instead of just one! Or such as when one character goes through an exit to the following level, and the other exits to, say, level eight and the game goes completely nuts. It can't then be played until one of the characters' health points run out and he therefore dies!

When the game loads (it comes on two disks) you are greeted by the now famous Gauntlet title page, and with some quite impressive music, which has been sampled from the actual arcade machine. The sound is the one thing in this game which is consistently excellent, all of the sound work being done by 2-bit Microsystems (presumably with their Replay cartridge). After the music etc. was over I attempted to start the game by selecting the Wizard, as this is my favourite character both in the arcades and on the eight bit version of the game. I pressed 'insert' to bring the Wizard into play, and I waited.... The disk drive whirred and chugged a little before finally the computer splatted four 'bombs' across the middle of the screen. Oh no!!! I quickly reloaded the game and tried selecting the Wizard again, and yet again the game crashed. After much experimentation I discovered that with joystick 1 it seems you could only be a Warrior or an Elf if you are playing a one player game! Yet another BUG??

The sprites in Gauntlet are all very good, the four major characters are extremely well drawn and the various nasties are significantly better than in the eight bit version. The backdrops contain much detail and in many cases look very close to the arcade version. My only real complaint about the graphics is the scrolling, which is terrible. It is probably the worst scrolling I have yet seen on an ST game. It is so bad that after a while it sends you almost boss-eyed!

But ... even though the scrolling is bad, and the game as a whole is bug ridden, it is still, underneath, an infinitely playable game! The ST version has not lost any of the playability of the arcade machine, other than the four player aspect. With two players you will find yourselves shouting at each other and helping each other out and generally having a good time.

I'm not sure if it was worth the wait, as I was personally expecting something a little better than this. The longer you wait the more you expect and perhaps if it had been released earlier it would have had much more impact.