Gauntlet II

Please, stop shooting the food.

Source // Arcade Museum

If one Gauntlet wasn't enough for you, perhaps Gauntlet II will be more to your liking. Released just a year after the original game, Gauntlet II takes what works and runs with it, adding plenty of extras to keep the gameplay addictive and varied.

It looks largely the same, sounds largely the same and plays largely the same, and that's great, because that's all many of us want from a sequel.

Still no luck playing the arcade version though, so I'm hoping the NES port is as colourful as the first game at least.

Fun Times

Gauntlet II adds a number of features over the original Gauntlet, mixing up the gameplay that we're used to in order to keep our attention for that much longer. The big deal is perhaps the ability to choose the same character class as another player, allowing you and some mates to tackle the gauntlet that lies ahead as four different coloured wizards, rather than four completely different characters.

Each character has different abilities remember, so a team of four wizards will have an awful lot of the strengths of the wizard, as well as an awful lot of the weaknesses. It makes getting through the levels with a bit of teamwork, rather than sheer dumb luck, more important than ever.

Some levels mark one player as 'it', and the enemies will stop targeting whichever character they see and instead home in on just the marked player. That player can help the team by wrangling and coaxing enemies into specific spots for the rest of the team to dispatch, or they can try and shift the problem of being 'it' to another player, so that all the monsters follow them instead. Good to see that Gauntlet II retains the uneasy alliances of the original.

New power ups and environmental traps and challenges are scattered throughout, so you'll have plenty of longevity finding keys to open doors and progress through to level exits, scoring points and looting treasure all the while.

The NES port finally adds some narration present in the arcade version, but still doesn't appear to have the tips and hints that appear and introduce you to the rules of the game. Still, controls are simple enough, and the concept is easily understood.


Despite doing seemingly everything better, I found myself playing less of Gauntlet II than I played of Gauntlet. Even with new additions, I feel like I've been there, done that, got to the exit and don't see the need to do it again.

I'm still playing as a lone wolf however, and with the new additions - especially the character class and 'it' mechanic - Gauntlet II should come across as an almost entirely different game. This game really was made for multiplayer, even though single player runs are perfectly feasible - but are they entertaining enough to stick with?

I had some trouble with identifying what was what sometimes. Shooting at something first will at least give you an idea if it takes damage, and is therefore probably in need to having damage dealt to it, but if it's food you've just smashed rather than collected, then you're not going to be the most popular of teammates.

Final Word

As I got cornered by evil wizard ninjas (I don't really know what they were) I was resigned not only to my fate of a Game Over, but the fate of closing the emulator and being done with Gauntlet II for the day.

To get my fix of endless hordes of monsters hunting me down while I spam the fire button in their general direction, Gauntlet II is high on the list of games to offer that to me. It's not a bad game at all, but is it one that will make it's way to the top of the pile of must play titles?

As a single player title, for me, it's good for a quick blast and little more. For you, that may be different. Best gather some more players and try it for yourselves.

Fun Facts

Many Gauntlet cabinets were converted into Gauntlet II cabinets with conversion kits, which included a vastly popular four-player kit as well as a much more limited two-player kit. Only 61 two-player kits were produced by the end of the run.

Gauntlet II, developed by Atari Games, first released in 1986.
Version played: NES, 1990, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1986 (crazyclimber80)