[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/gauntlet-arcade_3025.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:''Arcade needs quarters badly!'']]

''Blue {{wizard needs food badly}}!''

Introduced in 1985, {{Atari}}'s '''Gauntlet''' was based on the earlier ''Dandy'', written for the Atari8BitComputers. Up to four heroes -- a warrior, a valkyrie, a wizard and an elf -- went DungeonCrawling, viewed from above in a scrolling window, collecting treasure and defeating monsters. Each player had a joystick and two buttons, labeled "Fire" and "Magic"; the latter button activated a potion which [[SmartBomb weakened or destroyed all enemies on the screen]]. Each hero had a specialty: the warrior [[GlassCannon did extra damage]], the valkyrie had [[StoneWall the best defense]], the wizard [[SquishyWizard did extra damage when using potions]], and the elf [[FragileSpeedster trumped everyone in movespeed]].

To [[CrackIsCheaper keep you feeding coins]], Atari invented the "WizardNeedsFoodBadly" trope: while [[HyperactiveMetabolism food provides healing]], your character loses one HitPoint every second under any and all circumstances, basically guaranteeing a GameOver at some point. (For obvious reasons, this tends to be averted for the console releases.) {{Mook Maker}}s are another signature trope of the series; they need to be destroyed if you don't want to be swamped. InterchangeableAntimatterKeys need to be collected to get where you're going. You can shoot food and magic-potion pickups, which is rarely as beneficial as picking them up, so it pays to be careful with your attacks. Finally, it was one of the first games to support four players at once, and this emphasis on social multiplayer was probably the biggest part of its success.

There have been several more entries in the franchise over the years:
* '''Gauntlet II''', released in 1986, added more monsters and hazards and allowed all players to pick any of the four classes. It was also the last to be released in arcades for a while; '''Gauntlet: The Third Encounter''' (1991) was a DolledUpInstallment released only for the AtariLynx. '''Gauntlet IV''' for the Genesis was a port of the first game with extra features, including a 50-level quest mode.
* '''Gauntlet Legends''' hit arcades in 1998, and home consoles in '99. It had an air of the {{Reboot}} about it; the HackAndSlash nature was left unchanged, and there were still four players, but the levels were quite different, and had Weak, Strong and Turbo attacks available, the latter being a LimitBreak that charged every time you used one of the other two attacks. It also added persistent characters: when you started (or joined) a game, you could enter your initials, and it would then load up the characters that that particular machine had stored for those initials. Therefore, you could play for a while, have your character level up a bit, but if you had to leave, you could then come back later and have your character the same level as it was before. (The console releases just used save cards.)
** '''Gauntlet: Dark Legacy''' (2001, 2002) was largely an expansion pack, though it added many things: more classes and twice as many levels, as well as adding a world and final boss ''after'' the final boss of the original game. It got marginally worse reviews because almost nothing else was changed--PS1 graphics on the PS2, come on--but for a modern consumer looking to experience this franchise, it's one of your best bets.
* '''Gauntlet: The Seven Sorrows''' was a console-exclusive 2005 release. Despite adding online support for CoOpMultiplayer, it was not well-received due to its obvious ExcusePlot and shallow gameplay (which is saying something in a HackAndSlash title) and has become the series' FranchiseKiller.
* '''Gauntlet (PC)''' A game announced by Warner Bros, schedueled to come out in September 2014. Made by Arrowhead, developers of ''{{Magicka}}''.

As to re-releases, ''Gauntlet I'' has appeared on several different ''Midway Arcade Classics'' compilations. There are also rumors of a NintendoDS ''Gauntlet I'' port stuck in DevelopmentHell somewhere. Its engine was repurposed for the DS [[TheProblemwithLicensedGames tie-in game]] for ''GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra'', a game that got poor reviews, which probably didn't help the DS port's fate. After not being heard about and assumed cancelled for a few years, a mostly completed ROM was uploaded on the internet. It's generally assumed it could've saved the franchise, or at least helped it get back on its feet.

The quote at the top of the page (or appropriate variants) has become something of an Internet meme, and several characters in fantasy-oriented webcomics have uttered it as a ShoutOut.
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!!This series provides examples of:
* ActionGirl: Thyra the Valkyrie.
* AnnouncerChatter: "Red Warrior needs food badly!"
* AnAxeToGrind: The Warrior's weapon
* BarbarianHero: The Warrior practically ''is'' this trope.
* {{BFG}}: In ''Legends'' and ''Dark Legacy'', the Archer's fully charged Turbo Attack is actually ''CALLED'' "BFG".
* BossOnlyLevel: Exaggerated in ''Dark Legacy''; every boss has its own level.
* ButtonMashing: The point of the game.
** On the [=GC=] and [=PS2=] ports, you can switch it to ''{{Robotron 2084}}''-style strafing controls in addition to just holding the button to fire. Both of which really help your thumbs.
* CainAndAbel: Sumner and his younger brother Garm.
* CaptainObvious: Pick up food in the later games in the series and listen to what the characters say. The Wizard's is best: "Food is good!"
** Honorable Mentions go to the Knight: "Sweet nutrients!" and the Jester: "Down the hatch!"
* ClassAndLevelSystem: ''Legends''.
* ClownCarGrave: The bone piles, which keep spawning endless waves of ghosts until you destroy them.
* ColourCodedMultiplayer: From left to right, player colors were red, blue, yellow and green. This is very handy if the players chose the same class in ''Gauntlet II'' and later games.
* CompetitiveBalance: In ''Legends'' and ''Dark Legacy''.
** [[JackOfAllStats Jill of All Stats]]: Valkyrie[=/=]Falconess
** {{Fragile Speedster}}s: Sorceress[=/=]Medusa, Archer[=/=]Tigress, Jester[=/=]Hyena
** {{Glass Cannon}}s: Warrior[=/=]Minotaur, Wizard[=/=]Jackal
** MightyGlacier: Dwarf[=/=]Ogre
** LightningBruiser: Knight[=/=]Unicorn
* CriticalAnnoyance: Aside from announcements when your health reaches certain checkpoints, the arcade version produces a dull alert tone to advice a player is running low on health.
* CutscenePowerToTheMax: Skorne is significantly larger in the intro FMV than he is in the actual game. In the former, he's big enough to crush a human with one hand. When fought, he's around the same size as other bosses.
* DamageOverTime: In the original game, the players' HP decreased at a constant rate throughout the game. The only means to replenish HP? [[WizardNeedsFoodBadly Food items]] in various levels, or [[CrackIsCheaper putting more coins in the machine]].
* DeadlyRotaryFan: One of the Nightmare Realm levels in ''Dark Legacy'' has several huge fans blocking your way. You can hit the "slow down" switch to make it past them.
* DemonLordsAndArchDevils: Skorne
* DestroyableItems: It is possible to accidentally shoot your food. Blue potions can also be shot; in ''Gauntlet II'', shooting poison caused monsters to slow down for a few seconds.
** ''Legends'' and ''Dark Legacy'' had green posion-gas releasing barrels (which turned food poisonous and green as well as hurt players), as well as red explosive barrels (which hurt players if they got detonated as well as turn every item around them into ash). Barrels can be broken open as well. Potions could be shot as well in which they had a lesser effect of elemental magic than if a character used one from inventory.
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: It's quite possible that players may find themselves in a maze full of locked doors with insufficient keys to unlock them all, or which is so complicated that they can't find the exit. Because of this, after a certain amount of health is lost all locked doors will spring open, and after still more health is lost, all walls turn to exits.
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu: Did you just use magic to kill [[TheGrimReaper Death]]? Or, in later games, steal ''his'' life and experience?
** Or even turn him into a delicious apple by using a potion on him while [[SealedEvilInACan he was trapped in a chest]] (and somewhat turn you into a [[Literature/HarryPotter Death]] [[IncrediblyLamePun Eater]])?
* DistaffCounterpart: For the most part, each character type (Strength, Armor, Speed and Magic) in ''Dark Legacy'' has a character of each gender. The only man's club is the Strength type, with the male Warrior and Dwarf.
* DropInDropOutMultiplayer
* DrivenByEnvy: Garm summons out of jealously of his more famous brother Sumner.
* DoorToBefore: The quest mode from ''IV'' is all about these.
* DynamicDifficulty: As you gain points, monsters appear more quickly and less food becomes available. At 2.1 million points, you hit the first {{cap}} where you get maximum food, and at 4.2 million points, the difficulty resets to as if you just started the game.
* EndlessGame: The arcade game and most of the console ports simply produced new dungeons indefinitely until the player gave up, whereas the NES port had an ending.
** As did "Legends" and "Dark Legacy," when Skorne and Garm were defeated--though you could bring out other characters by starting over with them, especially the ones you unlocked.
* ElementalPowers: These applied to the potions and the shot power-ups as well. Some of the final bosses had elemental weaknesses, so going to the store and stocking up on the right element for your shot power before the boss fight could give you more damaging attacks against that particular boss until the power-ups ran out.
** ColorCodedElements: As far as the colors of said potions/power-ups, ''Red'' was Fire, ''Blue'' was Lightning, ''Yellow'' was Light, and ''Green'' was acid. Knowing which element your shot power was could tell if it boosted attack power or didn't against a boss.
* DeathSeeker: The last boss of Gauntlet 4.
* EvilIsHammy: Skorne, who is heard taunting players in a hammy fashion if they don't find the Runestones or talking about how he will [[ToThePain gruesomely murder them]] after killing a boss.
* EvilIsNotAToy: Something Garm learns rather quickly in ''Legends'' and ''Dark Legacy''.
* ExplodingBarrels: Red barrels were straight-up explosives in ''Dark Legacy'', while in the Jester's levels, boxes of fireworks were the same way.
* FireAndBrimstoneHell: The Underworld where Skorne retreats to after being defeated in the Desecrated Temple.
* ForestRanger: The Elf Ranger.
* FriendlyFireproof: In ''Gauntlet'', shooting other players initially carries no penalty, but after enough levels, they will start to stun other players. Woe unto you if your allies are griefers.
* FurryFandom: The unlockable characters were anthromorphic animal mostly (A Unicorn for the Knight, a tigress for the Archer, and a hyena for the Jester for example).
* HyperactiveMetabolism: Possibly one of the earliest versions of the trope, given the above iconic quote. It really was a way to keep players pumping quarters.
* LadyOfWar: The Valkyrie.
* LargeHam: The narrator. Would it really be ''Gauntlet'' without him?
* LevelDrain: [[TheGrimReaper Death]] in ''Gauntlet: Dark Legacy'' can not only drain health if it wears red robes, he can also (if he wears black robes) drain '''{{Character Level}}s.'''
** If you're wearing a halo when you face Death, though, ''you can drain a level of health or experience from Death instead.''
* LevitatingLotusPosition: The Wizard class has this as an IdleAnimation in ''Dark Legacy''.
* LimitedSpecialCollectorsUltimateEdition: The {{Nintendo 64}} version of ''Gauntlet Legends'' came with a Warrior miniature.
* MadLibsDialogue: "[color] [class] is now a level [X] [title]!"
** Which might also lead to a bit of DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment in the Warrior's case: "[color] Warrior is now a Level 10 Hero!" Which is strange, since [[ShapedLikeItself he's already a hero]]...
* MadeOfIron
* ManaMeter: The Turbo Meter in ''Dark Legacy''. It gives you a close area attack good when surrounded by enemies when yellow, and a deadly forward wave/straight-shot attack when red. Otherwise it gives a "laughable" one (such as the Jester dropping a crate of chickens).
* MeaningfulName: The wizard who summons the heroes in ''Legends''/''Dark Legacy'' is named Sumner.
* MetalSlime: The Thief
* MookDebutCutscene: Done in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewTjygaoCMc Legends]].
* MookMaker
* ObviousBeta: ''Seven Sorrows''. All the touted new features were left on the cutting room floor.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: The NES version had a three-headed dragon as the final boss. In the arcade version of Gauntlet II, the dragon is a rare enemy that guards various areas by shooting fire for a long distance (or rapidly cooking players that try getting too close).
** ''Dark Legacy'' had one as the boss of the Warrior's region.
** The story mode has 5 bosses that are increasingly powerful dragons. The last one is the cursed adventurer that beat all 5 before you. Literally.
* PivotalBoss: Nine of the 11 bosses in ''Dark Legacy'' are like this.
* PunBasedTitle: The game from which ''Gauntlet'' is derived, ''Dandy''=[[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons D&D]]. Also ''Gauntlet'' itself, which has at least two possible explanations:
** A '''gauntlet''' (from the French) is a long glove which covers the wrist as well as the hand, such as all well-dressed fighters in the Middle Ages wore.
** '''"Running the gauntlet"''' (originally "running the gantlopp/gantlope", from the Swedish for "lane", and later "running the gantlet"[[note]]the "gantlet" spelling still sometimes appears in American English, e.g. {{VideoGame/Doom}} II level 3, but has disappeared from British English[[/note]], before becoming its modern form) was a medieval military punishment wherein the offender was forced to run down a "lane" of his fellow soldiers, while they beat him with sticks. This meaning well suits running around in narrow-passaged mazes fighting off enemies.
* SarcasmMode: The narrator in the first game tends to do this.
** "That was a heroic effort."
** In ''Dark Legacy'' the Jester has goes "I'm so happy for you" if in multiplayer you steal an item HE was trying to get. The other more straight-forward voices go "Thou art greedy" or "Pardon me, but that was Mine!"
* SchrodingersPlayerCharacter
* SealedEvilInACan: Death hiding in a barrel or chest; he usually didn't come out until the chest was unlocked or the barrel broken. Using a magic potion on Death while he was still in a chest turned him into an apple starting with "Legends."
** One of the nasty surprises from the chest was what looked like a barrel-head with yellow-lensed glasses and a crown of TNT in "Dark Legacy": if you opened a chest and HE came out, RUN! You only had a few seconds before he exploded and took out the area around him.
* SecretCharacter: Quite a few actually. Every character in the N64 and the PS2 games had unlockable forms that were humanoid mythological creatures. They were all pretty much the same character, but (I think) they got better bonuses to their preferred stat (Anubis/Medusa gets better magic, Minotaur gets even higher strength, etc.). Furthermore, Sumner could be unlocked and acted as a super powerful Wizard.
** For the "Dark Legacy" unlockables you had to get all the coins under a time limit in certain levels, and if you did the unlockable characters had at least 50 points more in their stats than their "normal versions."
*** And even further furthermore, there are special codes you can put in as your name in the PS2 and Gamecube versions to play as alternate alternate characters. Among them were a waitress Sorceress (complete with throwing plates!), a football-hurling quarterback Knight, and an alien Wizard. In the end you've got a total of 25 playable secret characters, outside of the normal secret characters.
* SmashMook: Grunts. As the manual puts it, "Grunts will run up to you and hit you with their clubs over and over."
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: Thyra the Valkyrie was the only woman in the original game and all sequels up until ''Legends'', and it took the removal of the Elf to introduce a new female character in the form of the Archer (a female Elf). ''Dark Legacy'' added one more in the Sorceress.
** This, mind, is not counting the numerous secret characters in those latter games.
* SpiritualSuccessor[=/=]SerialNumbersFiledOff: Monolith Productions' ''VideoGame/GetMedieval''.
* SquishyWizard: In the original game, the Wizard takes full damage. Other characters have a reduction up to 40%. The Sorceress from ''Dark Legacy'' also counts as this.
* {{Stripperiffic}}: Female characters in ''Legends'' and ''Dark Legacy'', especially the [[spoiler:secret character Falconess]]. The outfits get less revealing as the character levels up, but not by much; the Sorceress gains [[FashionableAsymmetry a single pant leg]], for example.
* ThrowingYourSwordAlwaysWorks: As Thyra the Valkyrie can attest.
** For Thor the Warrior, throwing his axe always works.
* ToThePain: Skorne makes various threats about this to the player when they defeat a boss.
* TrialAndErrorGameplay: NES version, room 94 (the room that's shaped like a woman's body). The lower left exit eventually leads to a room with no exit, making the game Unwinnable. The lower right leads to a room where the only exit sends you all the way back to room 32. The correct exit is hidden in a block on the far left. If you take a wrong exit, you'll have to start over at room 79 and work your way back. There is no indication of which exit goes where.
* TrueBlueFemininity: Thyra the Valkyrie. The blue Valkyrie from ''Legends''/''Dark Legacy'' also counts as this.
* {{Uberwald}}: The Forsaken Province and its hero, the Sorceress.
* WakeUpCallBoss: The Dragon in ''Legends''. He's the first boss in the game and will beat down inexperienced players who easily blew through the first few levels.
* WizardNeedsFoodBadly: TropeNamer, also overlaps with HyperactiveMetabolism. It would even be an EarWorm, but doesn't qualify since it isn't a song.
** The Duloks [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp3PNeKx19w beg to differ]].
** As would FiveIronFrenzy [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Rp9XvD5kXg]].
* YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle: ''Dark Legacy'' - Skorne's done for, now we can re- "Skorne is dead... Steal his power..." God''damn'' it, Garm!
* YourWorstNightmare: [[TitleDrop Title-dropped]] as one of the Jester's levels in ''Dark Legacy.'' Given that it's in the mind (the Jester's realm), that is no surprise.
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