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 Dolled-Up Installment released only for the Atari Lynx. 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 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.
As to re-releases, Gauntlet I has appeared on several different Midway Arcade Classics compilations. There are also rumors of a Nintendo DSGauntlet I port stuck in Development Hell somewhere. Its engine was repurposed for the DS tie-in game for GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra, a game that got poor reviews, which probably didn't help the DS port's fate.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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 gives a "laughable" one (such as the Jester dropping a crate of chickens).
Meaningful Name: The wizard who summons the heroes in Legends/Dark Legacy is named Sumner.
Obvious Beta: Seven Sorrows. All the touted new features were left on the cutting room floor.
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.
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 the "gantlet" spelling still sometimes appears in American English, e.g. Doom II level 3, but has disappeared from British English, 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!"
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."
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 (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.
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.
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.
For Thor the Warrior, throwing his axe always works.
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.
Überwald: 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.