Programmed exclusively for the Atari 8-bit computers, Gauntlet (no relation to the popular Atari arcade game released one year later) was one of the earliest "cave-flyers
." It was also one of the earliest games that functioned in the shareware mode of distribution, though the word had not been coined yet, and was generally distributed on BBSes.GAMEPLAY
In Gauntlet, you control a lander-like ship in a zero-gravity two-dimensional cave environment. Pressing the joystick in any direction thrusts in that direction, and your lander maintains that direction's momentum until you thrust in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, holding down the fire button while pointing in any direction fires the ship's weapons in that direction, allowing the player to drift in one direction while firing in any other direction. However, the controls are simple and intuitive, and do not involve the complex physics and difficulty of control characteristic of more "realistic" lander-type games (indeed, at any moment you can press the X key to stop all movement whatsoever).
Your ship can fire two kinds of weapons: fusion bolts, of which you have unlimited ammunition, and missiles, of which you begin with ten and are replenished periodically. The fusion bolts are fired in a steady autofire, limited to six bolts on-screen at any given time, creating tiny explosions. There are three kinds of missiles available: homing missiles that have their own damage capacity and thus can seek and destroy multiple smaller objects, dumbfire "flares" that are indestructible and damage everything in their path, and dumbfire "tridex" missiles that create large explosions. The catch is that you must select which type you will use at the beginning of the game, and you cannot change it in-game, so you're stuck with what you pick.
In the same style as games like Scorched Earth
, the environment in Gauntlet is completely destructible -- and in several screens you must blast your way through cave walls in order to progress to the next screen. Thus, you can often get the odd satisfaction of seeing a pockmarked landscape after a particularly tough fight. There is also, however, an option to play the game without any landscape whatsoever.
Your ship has a shield that begins with 30 damage points and, like everything else in the game, takes damage continuously as long as it is in contact with an explosion or some other object (so, if you're glanced by an object or an explosion, you may only take one damage point, but if you run right through an explosion, you can find you've lost 15 or 20). Every screen you progress through you gain 2 more and are awarded 100 points for every point you have remaining. Every 10,000 points, you are awarded an additional 10 damage points, up to a maximum of 99. Thus, it is important to build up your shield in the early game so that it brings in enough points every one or two screens to replenish it via the 10,000-point bonus.
You progress from through fifty screens (thirty above-ground and twenty below), in which you face increasingly more difficult enemies and in which the action gets often gets fast and furious, as it were. Enemies include homing mines that come after you if you get too close, ground installations that fire all sorts of guns and missiles at you (particularly the nasty homing ones), and all sorts of little alien ships whose firepower increases as you progress and who behave differently, some, for example, using the terrain to avoid your shots. Throughout the game, you must use the terrain to your advantage and avoid revealing yourself to all enemies on-screen to avoid being swarmed. Eventually, you face the Kingship on screen 50, a nasty bugger.NOTEWORTHY TECHNICAL ASPECTS
One of the most noteworthy aspects of Gauntlet, beside its sophisticated treatment of movement and intertia, was the sheer number of moving objects it can have on the screen at once -- often ten or so enemies, six of your fusion bolts and scads of enemy shots and missiles. Sight unseen, the author accomplished this impressive feat through very tidy assembly-language packed into 28k. Few other action-arcade games matched the complexity and dynamism of the action and physics modeling in Gauntlet, and it might have received much more attention had Atari not released its coin-op hit Gauntlet (which was also ported, of course, to the Atari 8-bit) at roughly the same time.
According to the in-game blurb, there was also a significantly-upgraded registered version that played "a lot differently" than the shareware release. However, as of this writing the registered version has not been seen among the publicly-shared Atari 8-bit disk images. Some would be very excited if this registered version surfaced in the public domain or became otherwise available.
Part of the Following Group
There are no reviews for this game.
The Press Says
There are no rankings for this game.
There are currently no topics for this game.
Gauntlet was a sort of proto-shareware game before the concept of shareware was established. The following is the in-game shareware blurb:
This program is yours, enjoy.
GAUNTLET is marketed as user-supported software.
This means that it is distributed by people like you, by making copies for your friends or bringing it to user-group meetings.
Because GAUNTLET is not sold in stores, this is the only way other people will get to see it.
GAUNTLET is a 28K assembly language program that runs in a 48K machine. If you got GAUNTLET from a BBS, renaming it "AUTORUN.SYS" will make it boot automatically from disk.
If you want to put GAUNTLET on a BBS (I'd appreciate that), please send it under the name "GAUNTLET.OBJ" so I can find it if I happen to be snooping around on that system.
Play this game for awhile, if you like it, you can send a donation to show your appreciation.
Just send what you think the program is worth to you. Feel free to make comments and suggestions for improvement, if there is enough support, I'll be able to take the time to improve it.
Where else can you get (legally) software like this for the price YOU want to pay?
My address is:
Donald R. Lebeau P.O Box 376 Pepperell, Mass 01463
Please include a self addressed stamped envelope for replies to your questions.
Donations of $35 or more (or more?) makes you a REGISTERED USER.
Registered users will receive the Registered version of GAUNTLET
The registered Version includes:
1. A complete illustrated manual 2. A 6 play level, feature packed registered version of GAUNTLET. 3. Notices of new releases 4. Entrance into the high score context for a $1000 prize. 5. For every friend you get to register, you'll receive $5. 6. Every 100th person registering will receive a check for $100.
The registered version of GAUNTLET has six play levels, new enemy ships and new weapons, including Taknukes and the dreaded mobber.
If you have a friend register, just have him/her include your name and address when they register and you'll get a $5 check. (Wasn't that easy?)
There is no limit to the number of friends you can register.
Users groups are welcome to put GAUNTLET in their public domain libraries after registering the program. All checks will be sent to the group representative or account registered for that group. BBS's don't count as users or friends!
Registered users may enter their high scores in the contest, the highest score in a 6 month period will get $1000. Details will be provided with the manual. (So you think you're pretty good, Eh?)
The registered version plays a lot differently than this version, so register soon if you want a chance to win.
Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.
Enjoy this program, I had a lot of fun writing it. You'll find each enemy ship has its own personality and must be dealt with in a different way, and wait till they team up against you!
Any time you want to read the manual portion of this text, just reboot the game and type "M".
Good luck! I hope I've provided you with many hours of entertainment...
This entry to the MobyGames database was contributed by Chris Edgar (1473)
on Sep 01, 2006.