Video Game / Gauntlet
Arcade needs quarters badly!

Blue wizard needs food badly!

Introduced in 1985, Atari's Gauntlet was based on the earlier Dandy, written for the Atari 8-Bit Computers. Up to four heroes — a warrior, a valkyrie, a wizard, and an elf — went Dungeon Crawling, 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 weakened or destroyed all enemies on the screen. Each hero had a specialty: The warrior did extra damage, the valkyrie had the best defense, the wizard did extra damage when using potions, and the elf trumped everyone in movespeed.

To keep you feeding coins, Atari invented the "Wizard Needs Food Badly" trope: While food provides healing, your character loses one Hit Point every second under any and all circumstances, basically guaranteeing a Game Over at some point. (For obvious reasons, this tends to be averted for the console releases.) Mook Makers are another signature trope of the series; they need to be destroyed if you don't want to be swamped. Interchangeable Antimatter Keys 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 (1990) was a Dolled-Up Installment released only for the Atari Lynx.
  • Gauntlet III: The Final Quest (1991) was another step away from the traditional gameplay — in fact, it was the game that inspired Gauntlet Legends. Released for the Amiga, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and other such late '80s / early '90s home computers.
  • Gauntlet IV for the Sega 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 Hack and Slash 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 Limit Break 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 Co-Op Multiplayer, it was not well received due to its obvious Excuse Plot and shallow gameplay (which is saying something in a Hack and Slash title) and has become the series' Franchise Killer.
  • Gauntlet (PC) A game announced by Warner Bros., came out on September 23rd 2014. Made by Arrowhead, developers of Magicka.
  • In addition, Gauntlet is one of the many games represented in the "Midway Arcade" dimension of LEGO Dimensions. Full ports of the original game and its first sequel are also accessible by purchasing the Midway Arcade Level Pack.

As to re-releases, Gauntlet I has appeared on several different Midway Arcade Classics compilations, and the NES version is possibly the best known of the bunch. There are also rumors of a Nintendo DS Gauntlet I port stuck in Development Hell somewhere. Its engine was repurposed for the DS tie-in game for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, 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 Shout-Out.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Thyra the Valkyrie.
  • Announcer Chatter: "Red Warrior needs food badly!"
  • An Axe to Grind: The Warrior's weapon.
  • Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick: The Valkyries tended to be balanced, Warriors emphasized heavy damage, Elves / Archers emphasized speed, and Wizards were the gimmick, emphasizing magic.
  • Barbarian Hero: The Warrior practically is this trope.
  • BFG: In Legends and Dark Legacy, the Archer's fully charged Turbo Attack is actually called "BFG."
  • Boss-Only Level: Exaggerated in Dark Legacy; every boss has its own level.
  • Button Mashing: 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.
  • Cain and Abel: Sumner and his younger brother Garm.
  • Captain Obvious: 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!"
  • Class and Level System: Legends.
  • Clown-Car Grave: The bone piles, which keep spawning endless waves of ghosts until you destroy them.
  • Color-Coded Elements: 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.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: 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.
  • In the newest game, players can't choose the same class, so the colors now correspond to the class / character. Red is Warrior / Thor, Blue is Valkyrie / Thyra, Yellow is Wizard / Merlin, and Green is Elf / Questor.
  • Critical Annoyance: Aside from announcements when your health reaches certain checkpoints, the arcade version produces a dull alert tone to advise that a player is running low on health.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Skorne seems significantly more powerful in the intro FMV of Legends and Dark Legacy, where he trounces a skilled mage with a few decisive blows. When fought in-game, he behaves much like any other boss, content to hurl ranged attacks at you while soaking your own.
  • Damage Over Time: In the original game, the players' HP decreased at a constant rate throughout the game. The only means to replenish HP? Food items in various levels, or putting more coins in the machine.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: 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.
  • Death Seeker: The last boss of Gauntlet 4.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: Skorne.
  • Destroyable Items:
    • 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.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: 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 (or where the path to the exit is blocked by a key or potion which they can't pick up because their inventory is full, hence can't get past). 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.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Did you just use magic to kill 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 he was trapped in a chest (and somewhat turn you into a Death Eater?)
  • Distaff Counterpart: 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.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer
  • Driven by Envy: Garm summons out of jealously of his more famous brother Sumner.
  • Door to Before: The quest mode from IV is all about these.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: 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.
  • Endless Game: 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.
  • Elemental Powers: 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.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Skorne, who is heard taunting players in a hammy fashion if they don't find the Runestones or talking about how he will gruesomely murder them after killing a boss.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Something Garm learns rather quickly in Legends and Dark Legacy.
  • Exploding Barrels: Red barrels were straight up explosives in Dark Legacy, while in the Jester's levels, boxes of fireworks were the same way.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: The Underworld where Skorne retreats to after being defeated in the Desecrated Temple.
  • Forest Ranger: The Elf Ranger.
  • Friendly Fireproof: 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.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • In the NES version of the original game, a password is required to enter the final level. Passwords are also used in lieu of save files, which was common on the NES. Speedrunners know that the first letter of the save file password determines what the vault password is, and they even have tables for it. Woe for you if your first letter of your save file password should happen to be an A — the password will be invalid and you could very well reach the vault, having legitimately uncovered all the clues, and not be able to finish the game because the 'A' password is rejected.
    • Non speedrunners have a different bug to deal with. if you collect over 2000 treasures (not an uncommon event when trying over and over to beat World 5, since all world five passwords start you at the start instead of where they should) your password is now invalid. Better hope you have a backup.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Possibly one of the earliest versions of the trope, given the above iconic quote. It really was a way to keep players pumping quarters.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: A staple of the series. Apparently when Red Warrior needs food badly it doesn't matter where it's been.
    • In Dark Legacy there were green drumsticks with crossbones in them and a bite taken out of them. These were poisoned meat that could take away 100 Health, and unless you were a Wizard or a Sorceress of at least Level 50 you had to avoid them (if you were that Wizard / Sorceress of at least Level 50, though, you could use a potion to turn it into a good, brown, drumstick good for 100 Health).
  • Lady of War: The Valkyrie.
  • Large Ham: The narrator. Would it really be Gauntlet without him?
  • Level Drain: Death in Dark Legacy can not only drain health if it wears red robes, he can also (if he wears black robes) drain Character Levels. If you're wearing a halo when you face Death, though, you can drain a level of health or experience from Death instead.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: The Wizard class has this as an Idle Animation in Dark Legacy.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The Nintendo 64 version of Gauntlet Legends came with a Warrior miniature.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: "[color] [class] is now a level [X] [title]!" Which might also lead to a bit of Department of Redundancy Department in the Warrior's case: "[color] Warrior is now a Level 10 Hero!" Which is strange, since he's already a hero...
  • Made of Iron
  • Mana Meter: 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 merely powers up your regular attack (such as the Archer firing a stronger arrow, or the Jester dropping a crate of chickens).
  • Meaningful Name: The wizard who summons the heroes in Legends / Dark Legacy is named Sumner.
  • Metal Slime: The Thief.
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: Done in Legends.
  • Mook Maker: Quite likely the Trope Codifier, being one of the first, and certainly one of the most famous, among all of videogames.
  • Novelization: Dark Legacy has one, Paths Of Evil. It ends on a Sequel Hook. And a sequel was written, Paths of Fear. Unfortunately, the publisher went bankrupt, and no one else has picked it up.
  • Obvious Beta: Seven Sorrows. All the touted new features were left on the cutting room floor.
  • One-Woman Wail: The Underworld theme in Seven Sorrows.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: 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.
  • Pivotal Boss: Nine of the 11 bosses in Dark Legacy are like this.
  • Pun-Based Title: The game from which Gauntlet is derived, Dandy =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 , 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.
  • Sarcasm Mode:
    • 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!"
  • Schr÷dinger's Player Character
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: 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. If he was in a barrel, though, the barrel broke and he fled if you used the potion.
    • 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.
  • Secret Character: 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 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."
    • 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.
  • Shout-Out: The PC reboot of the game seems to have a few of these in it.
    • At one point while fighting a horde of monsters, the Wizard may exclaim "By the beard of Gygax!"
    • Another conversation between the Wizard and the Elf spawns this:
      Merlin: The first shard of Tyrfing. The other shards are almost within my grasp. Such power!
      Merlin: What's that?
      Questor: Oh nothing. It's just an elvish saying.
  • Smash Mook: Grunts. As the manual puts it: "Grunts will run up to you and hit you with their clubs over and over."
  • The Smurfette Principle: 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.
  • Spiritual Successor / Serial Numbers Filed Off: Monolith Productions' Get Medieval.
  • Squishy Wizard: 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 secret character Falconess. The outfits get less revealing as the character levels up, but not by much; the Sorceress gains a single pant leg, for example.
    • Inverted by the PC version, in which Thor seems to have little regard for clothes, and Thyra runs around in full plate armor.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: As Thyra the Valkyrie can attest. For Thor the Warrior, throwing his axe always works.
  • To the Pain: Skorne makes various threats about this to the player when they defeat a boss.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: 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.
  • True Blue Femininity: Thyra the Valkyrie. The blue Valkyrie from Legends / Dark Legacy also counts as this.
  • ▄berwald: The Forsaken Province and its hero, the Sorceress.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: 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.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Trope Namer, also overlaps with Hyperactive Metabolism. It would even be an Ear Worm, but doesn't qualify since it isn't a song.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Dark Legacy — Skorne's done for, now we can re— "Skorne is dead... Steal his power..." Goddamn it, Garm!
  • Your Worst Nightmare: 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.