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Video Game / Gauntlet

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Arcade needs quarters 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: Thor the Warrior excels in melee combat, Thyra the Valkyrie had the best armor, Merlin the Wizard can destroy all hostile targets with magic, and Questor the Elf trumped everyone in agility.

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. It had voice-acting, in extremely limited quantities: in addition to damage grunts from the four characters, there was also a Narrator whose announcements were assembled dynamically from pre-existing snippets: "Wizard needs food, badly" was one, but was always prefaced by the color of the player controlling that character. 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.


In terms of home versions, Gauntlet was first ported to the various home computer platforms available at the time by Mindscape and U.S. Gold in 1986, with versions available on the ZX Spectrum, the Atari 8-bit series, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Atari ST and Apple II. In 1987, an NES version was released by Atari Games' consumer division Tengen, being one of the few Tengen games on the NES that was initially released as a licensed game before their fallout with Nintendo. The NES version was a reworked port that featured an actual storyline and an actual end to the game. In 1991, U.S. Gold released a Sega Master System version exclusively in Europe. In later years, Gauntlet has been included in various retro game compilations, including a two-pack with Rampart for the Game Boy Advance.

There have been several more entries in the franchise over the years:

  • Gauntlet II: (1986) - Essentially a Mission-Pack Sequel to the original Gauntlet, it was available as a conversion kit for the original Gauntlet arcade machine in addition to having its dedicated cabinet. This sequel added more monsters and hazards to the game and also allowed multiple players to play as the same classes. Like the original Gauntlet, the game was ported to home computers in 1989 and was also available on the NES and the original Game Boy, with both versions supporting up to four players.
  • Gauntlet: The Third Encounter (1990) - A Dolled-Up Installment for the Atari Lynx. It was originally developed by Epyx as a new IP titled Time Quests and Treasure Chests, but was repurposed as a Gauntlet sequel by Atari for brand recognition purposes. The objective is to retrieve the extraterrestrial Star Gem from an ancient castle guarded by monsters powered by the jewel. The game consists of 40 levels and features eight classes to play as, with the Valkyrie and the Wizard being the only returning classes from the original Gauntlet (the rest of the roster being unusual archetypes such as an android, a punk rocker and a gunfighter).
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  • Gauntlet III: The Final Quest (1991) -Developed by Software Creations and published by U.S. Gold for various home computer platforms at the time in Europe (ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari ST), it ditched the overhead perspective of the original arcade game in favor of an isometric perspective and featured some semblance of a plot. It consists of eight worlds and features eight playable characters, with the original Gauntlet quartet joined by four friendly spirits.
  • Gauntlet IV (1993) - A somewhat misleadingly-titled Sega Genesis port of the original arcade game, it was the first game developed by Japanese company M2, best known nowadays for their modern ports of classic game such as the various Sega Ages releases. It features not only a faithful reproduction of the arcade version, but also an RPG-like quest mode with all new stages and a proper final boss.
  • Gauntlet Legends (1998) - The first arcade installment since Gauntlet II, it ran on Midway's Vodoo Banshee-based Vegas board. It has an air of the Continuity Reboot about it; the Hack and Slash nature was left unchanged, and there were still four players, but the levels were quite different, and the controls of Weak, Strong, and Turbo attacks, 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 versions (released for the Nintendo 64, PlayStation and Dreamcast) just used memory card saves.
  • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy (2000) - Essentially an expansion of Gauntlet Legends, it added more classes and feature twice as many levels, and adding an additional world with a new final boss. Produced during a transition in hardware generations, the console ports this time were released for the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox. A portable version was also released for the Game Boy Advance, featuring an isometric perspective similar to Gauntlet III.
  • Gauntlet: The Seven Sorrows (2005) - Sequel to Gauntlet: Dark Legacy released directly to PS2 and Xbox. 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 (2008, canceled) - A reboot of the franchise announced for the Nintendo DS developed by Backbone Entertainment. It was fully completed (and a demo was even briefly available on the Nintendo DSi's eshop), but was unreleased for some reason. The game's engine was ultimately repurposed for a tie-in game based on G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
  • Gauntlet (2014) - A Recycled Title reboot of the franchise produced by Warner Bros.. Released for PC via Steam on September 23rd 2014, it was developed Arrowhead, developers of Magicka. A PlayStation 4 port was released on August 8th, 2015 under the title Gauntlet: Slayer Edition
  • 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. After not being heard about and assumed cancelled for a few years, a mostly completed ROM was uploaded on the internet.

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.
  • All or Nothing: The treasure rooms. Make it to the exit before time expires, every treasure chest collected is added to your score. Fail to make it out, you score nothing.
  • All There in the Manual: the manual for the Amstrad PC version note  had an interesting note buried in the small print: if the characters don't move for thirty seconds, the monster generators will release all the monsters they have left at once. But if the characters don't move for a further thirty seconds, all the walls turn into exits! To escape any level, all you had to do was transport into a closed room with no monster generator, and keep your hands off the joystick for a full minute - in fact, the Amstrad PC version had one level where this was the only way to finish it. (it's theorized it was designed this way specifically to reward players who bothered to read the manual all the way through)
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Generally averted in the original arcade games. The only exceptions are Ghosts (who don't have any attacks) and Death (whose right hand is stretched out, but switches to his left hand when facing right).
  • 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."
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The latter is the boss of the Ice Domain.
  • 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 them really help your thumbs.
  • Cain and Abel: The benevolent mage Sumner and his evil younger brother Garm.
  • Cap:
    • Gauntlet caps leveling up when a player reaches 1600 treasures. However, reach past 3200 and passwords generated afterwards will be invalid.
    • Gauntlet and Gauntlet II both have a seven-digit score cap, which is extremely generous, considering that few items and enemies score more than 100 points when killed or collectednote . However, that hasn't stopped people from reaching ten million.
  • 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 and Dark Legacy.
  • Clown-Car Grave: Any generator can be considered this if left intact. A bone pile, a small hut, coffin, or vase can spawn multitudes of ghosts or monsters within moments.
  • 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.
  • Collision Damage: Physical contact with ghosts and acid puddles will automatically damage the players. Death will also do the same, but this is justified considering his outstretched hand.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: The color-coding in the original Gauntlet corresponded to each character class, but since the characters are fixed by control panel in the 4-player version anyway, it still applies to to some extent. They were assigned from left to right in the following order: Thor the Warrior is Red, Thyra the Valkyrie is Blue, Merlin the Wizard is Yellow, and Questor the Elf is Green.
    • Gauntlet II, which allows multiple players to be the same characters class, has the player's colors fixed in the same order. This means that only red and blue are available in the 2-player version of the cabinet, whereas the 4-player version adds yellow and green.
    • In the arcade versions of both, Gauntlet Legends and Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, the player order goes yellow, blue, red and green. Each color is meant to represent a different kingdom that the player character hails from. However, the console ports ditches the fixed coloring and instead allows each player to choose their colors as an alternate costume after selecting a class.
    • Gauntlet 2014 went back to using unique character for each player. It features all four characters from the original arcade game and adds Lilith the Necromancer as a fifth character via DLC, who is clad in purple. Not only is the character's UI appropriately tinted, but in the PS4 version the DualShock 4 controller's LED panel switches to the appropriate color.
  • Creepy Cathedral: The aptly-named Desecrated Temple, which is overflowing with monster generators and rockin' Ominous Latin Chanting.
  • 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 pounds down Garm 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. Granted, Skorne can still pound your character for horrific damage.
  • Damage Discrimination:
    • Demons and Lobbers in the first two games completely avert this, as their attacks will hurt everyone and everything.
    • Also averted on certain levels in the second game, though players are notified beforehand when their attacks can stun or hurt each other.
    • Ghosts, acid puddles, and Death completely play this straight.
  • 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.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: The boss battles in Legends and Dark Legacy can last very long if you didn't prepare beforehand or get the corresponding Legend Weapon.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: The propeller blades in the docks of the Sky Domain. A Nightmare Realm level 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.
  • Demonic Possession: The near-death Garm absorbs Skorne's essence after the latter's destruction in the Underworld, prompting Garm to take over as the True Final Boss in Dark Legacy.
  • 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 poison gas releasing barrels (which hurts players and turns food poisonous), and as red explosive barrels (damaging nearby players and destroys adjacent items). Barrels can also be split open. Potions could be shot in which they had a lesser effect of elemental magic than if a character used one from inventory.
  • Developers' Foresight: 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? / The Death of Death: 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.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Happens to Sumner in the It's a Wonderful Failure cutscene of Legends and Dark Legacy, in which Skorne’s giant arm yanks him into the Desecrated Temple when the heroes aren’t alive to stop him.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: the original arcade cabinets featured this, quite naturally. It is less preserved in the home ports and later games: In general, you can only join a dungeon-dive in between levels.
  • Driven by Envy: Garm summons Skorne out of jealousy 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.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Dreamcast port of Legends included the new character classes from Dark Legacy, plus the Poison Field and Mausoleum levels.
  • 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Shadow Wraith of the Dream World, and the demon Skorne.
  • Elemental Powers: These applied to the potions and the shot power-ups. 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.
  • Expy: The Necromancer in the most recent game can be seen as one for the Sorceress from Dark Legacy. In fact, the Sorceress' Level 90 rank title is Necromancer.
  • 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 or even damage 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 to you if the 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.
  • Global Currency: Gold coins are the local currency. In Legends and Dark Legacy junk is worth 10 gold. Chests of treasure vary in value depending on what's in it:
    • Pure silver is 100 gold coins, pure gold is 200 gold, and pure gems are 300 gold.
    • Mix of silver and gold is worth 150 gold coins, and mix of gold and gems are 250 gold.
    • After chests, half a barrel of gold is 500 gold coins, and a whole barrel is 1000 gold.
    • Killing a boss uses Big Coins: a Copper Big Coin is 500 gold, a Silver Big Coin is 1000 gold, and a Gold Big Coin is 5000 gold.
  • Golem: A notable enemy in Legends and Dark Legacy, where each realm has its own golem motif. They are heavy hitters and can soak up a lot of damage, which means they are also a good source of experience.
    • Bears Are Bad News: The Ice Domain in Dark Legacy is notable for having polar bears as the realm's golems. These bears' mouths have a more zombified look to it.
  • Guest Fighter: In Legends and Dark Legacy, Pojo the Chicken from Mace: The Dark Age is playable temporarily when using Pojo's Egg, and is a playable character when entering a code.
  • Guide Dang It!: Trying to complete Gauntlet NES back in the early days. It is a ...Gauntlet... all right.
    • The game doesn't tell you that any save spots in World 5 will always start you in level 79. Writing down passwords after completing levels 83, 88, and 92 will start you at level 79 with your current inventory.
    • To even get to the final level (00), you have to access the path to level 99 from level 94. The problem? There are only 2 visible exits. The 2 visible exits either will eventually lead you to a dead end (95-96) or returning back to a much earlier level 32 (97-98). To access level 99, you have to find the hidden exit in level 94.
    • After completing level 99, you are prompt to enter the vault combination necessary to proceed to 00. How do you get this passcode? By accessing the "?" levels. The problem? The exits to those levels are well-hidden and there's no obvious hints on the paths to access those locations. Failure to provide the right code will result in a Non Standard Game Over.
    • It doesn't end there. After defeating the 3-headed dragon (Hydra), you may see an exit that should end in completing the game, right? Wrong. Do that and you get a Non Standard Game Over. You have to find the hidden panels that allow you to retrieve the sacred orb near the exit to get the actual ending.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The magic potions, often called "bomb potions". They affect the whole area of the screen, but their effect is based on:
    • The magic ability of the player using them: the Warrior/Dwarf has the worst magic and the Wizard/Sorceress the best.
    • Legends/Dark Legacy also has the magic of a potion be determined by what color it is: green is acid, yellow is light, blue is lightning and red is fire.
      • Alchemy Is Magic: The Strength-type and Magic-type groups could under certain circumstances use the potions for a secondary transformation effect in Legends/Dark Legacy: The Fighter/Minotaur/Dwarf/Ogre could turn junk (worth 10 gold coins) in the area into a chest of pure silver with a magic potion at level 25 worth 100 gold coins, then at level 50 could turn it into a chest of pure gold for 200 gold coins. (Keep in mind, though, a potion is 250 gold in the shop.) In contrast, the Wizard/Jackal/Sorceress/Medusa could turn poisoned food in the area into good food: a poison apple (green with two crossbones sticking out of it and causes you to lose 50 health) into a good red apple for 50 health at level 25, while at level 50 they could also turn poison meat (a green-brown drumstick with two bones sticking out of it that causes you to lose 100 health) into a good drumstick good for 100 health (which normally costs 250 coins in the shop).
    • Whether the potions are picked up, then used with the "magic" button or just simply shot. A picked-up-and-used potion is stronger than one simply shot at.
    • Also, in both Legends and Dark Legacy the potions can be thrown to blast a group of enemies either adjacent to the player, or below him/her if the player is on a ledge or area above them.
    • In Gauntlet II, some potions were poison, and shooting them slows the enemies.
  • 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 healthy drumstick for 100 Health).
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Sumner in Dark Legacy. He has the same moves as the wizard but all of his stats are maxed out making him the strongest character in the game. You can't unlock until the final realm however so there isn't a lot of areas where he's worth using.
  • "Instant Death" Radius: Death in the 2014 remake and Slayer Edition has been changed into an invulnerable One-Hit Kill creature. Not even magic can banish it unlike previous games. Death only appears on certain stages of Campaign and every 6th floor of Endless, which pursues the players until it has made a kill (or after some time), and then comes back again later.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: The main weakness of golems in Legends and Dark Legacy is to lure them against a wall or fence and hack them down from the opposite side without fear of retaliation.
  • Invisibility Cloak: One of the temporary power-ups in the first two games grants temporary invisibility. The player who collects it simply flashes.
    • Sorcerers also have this. They cannot be attacked when invisible.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If you die and refuse to continue in Legends and Dark Legacy, you’ll get a scene where Sumner is shown frantically reading from his tome in the Tower. Suddenly, a wall of fire erupts from the Desecrated Temple’s door behind him. Skorne’s giant arm then bursts through, latches on to Sumner and yanks him in to his death.
  • I Was Just Joking: In the first two games, the announcer will count down the final ten seconds left to escape each treasure room. However, he will occasionally randomize the numbers, then proclaim, "Just kidding!"
  • Lady of War: The Valkyrie.
  • Large Ham: The narrator. Would it really be Gauntlet without him?
    • Legends gave the audience Skorne, who manages to be even hammier when he taunts the player for missing a runestone or making threats.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: The Wizard class has this as an Idle Animation in Dark Legacy.
  • Life Drain: Most incarnations of Death sap 100~200 Health, including Legends. In Dark Legacy, red-robed Death does the life-stealing. If you have the Anti-Death Halo, you steal Health from Death.
    • Level Drain: Black-robed Death in Dark Legacy (arcade and consoles) steals Character Levels. If you're armed with the halo, the tide is reversed, which is actually one of the best ways to rack up easy level-ups.
    • Level Grinding: In Legends/Dark Legacy you can go back to previously played worlds, especially if you missed a Runestone or Boss Item in a particular world (which is when Skorne laughs wickedly). But to get to the Level 25 and Level 50 you might need to replay worlds with Black Death and a halo.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The reason why Thyra the Valkyrie takes the least damage in the original games. In the 2014 remake, holding up her shield can even rebound projectiles back to the caster!
  • 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... The original note  had brief but noticable pauses: "Wizard (beat) needs food (beat) badly!"
  • Magnus Means Mage: in Gauntlet III, Magnus is the wizard who brought peace to the land of Capra, and whom the protagonists have to rescue.
  • 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.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Some home computer ports had Gauntlet: The Deeper Dungeons, a pack of extra levels for the first game.
  • Money Grinding: If you need to get cash in Legends/Dark Legacy to buy health (250 coins = 100 health) or stat points (500 coins for 5 permanent extra points in Armor, Speed, Strength or Magic) you might need to do that too.
  • 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.
  • Ms. Fanservice: All three heroines, especially in their Mountain/red and Forest/green costumes in Legends / Dark Legacy.
    • Thyra's chest-and-thigh-baring Chainmail Bikini in the earlier games. The Valkyrie in Legends is also sunbathing in the ending postcard and even has an infamous nude code.
    • The female Archer's very minimalist (esp the green's Absolute Cleavage) outfits, and appears to be topless in both beach party postcards.
    • The Sorceress exudes Hot Witch by strutting like a supermodel and leans forward whenever she shoots magic bolts.
    • The secret heroine Falconess (any color) walks around with her half-human female form wearing very meager pieces of clothing.
  • Mythology Gag: The Big Bad who seeks the MacGuffin in the 2014 remake is named Morak, just like in the NES version.
  • Nerd: One of the characters available in The Third Encounter is a nerd, complete with glasses, pocket protector and carrying a book with him. He's naturally one of the weakest choices, only having a semi-respectable Speed stat.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Gauntlet NES has the following:
    • Entering the wrong combination passcode to access the final level 00. See Guide Dang It! above.
    • Entering the exit in level 00 without collecting the Sacred Orb that looks like an egg.
  • No Such Thing as Dehydration: The games have a time-based food counter that doubles as a health meter. The only foods that can be eaten are fruits and meats, but no beverages need to be drunk.
  • 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 five bosses that are increasingly powerful dragons. The last one is the cursed adventurer that beat all five before you. Literally.
  • Our Genies Are Different: The Desert Realm's Genie boss comes from an urn, and is armed with Sinister Scimitars. He also has one red eye, which he uses to shoot optic blasts or sweep half the arena.
  • Pinball Projectile: Reflective shots, introduced in Gauntlet II.
  • Pivotal Boss: Nine of the 11 bosses in Dark Legacy are like this.
  • Point of No Return: Dark Legacy has several levels that are effectively split into sublevels; miss something before you step onto the transporter/go through the gate and hopefully you didn't need it. The game will (usually) warn you first, though.
  • 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 and 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.
  • Rain of Arrows: The Archer's Double Bow and BFG Turbo attacks, the latter ending with a huge energy bolt.
  • Random Number God: Some food bags in Gauntlet II have randomized values, denoted by a question mark. Collecting one will either grant as few as 25 health or as many as 400 health.
  • Reformulated Game: The home ports of Legends are drastically different from the arcade, to the point that players are confused why certain levels are different. The console Legends adopted the arcade's Mountain and Castle with Dark Legacy's Province/Sky and Ice.
    • The arcade versions have much simpler goals of collecting all 12 or 13 Rune Stones, but the consoles added even more monsters and quest items to unlock other realms like obelisks and crystals. Dark Legacy's Battlefield realm existed in the arcade and consoles, but not in the original Legends.
    • In the arcades, by having a Level 10 hero, you may unlock his/her corresponding secret character. In the consoles, you have to collect all tokens from the secret character's specific Treasure Room: You are awarded nothing if you miss one token.
    • Arcade version items run for a limited time once they are picked up. In consoles, items are stocked in an inventory and can be toggled on or off whenever you want.
    • A portal brings you to specific stages in the console versions. In the arcade, each realm is an entire stage, so if you miss a certain stone or item from a sub-stage, you can't go back unless you restart the whole realm from the beginning.
  • Sarcasm Mode:
    • The narrator in the first game tends to do this. "That was a heroic effort."
    • Killing Golems often require a lot of backing up and shooting. Upon victory, the narrator remarks "I have never seen such bravery".
    • 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!"
  • The narrator in the 2014 remake can also be very sarcastic, particularly if you destroy food.
  • Score Milking: Players are free to spend as much time as desired to kill enemies, so long as their health holds out.
  • 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:
    • Every character in Legends and Dark Legacy 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 with maxed out stats.
    • 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 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 Lich in Dark Legacy is an undead who taunts you "COME HERE!". Midway Games was involved with both franchises.
    • 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!
      Questor: Much responsibility.
      Merlin: What's that?
      Questor: Oh nothing. It's just an elvish saying.
  • Smart Bomb: Potions in I, II, and IV destroy or cause heavy damage to every enemy on the screen, including Death. Shooting a potion only kills some of the monsters and earns the shooter an admonishment from the narrator.
  • 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.
  • Spider People: The Spider Queen, the boss of the Forest Realm.
  • Spiritual Successor: According to Word of God, Gauntlet was the spiritual successor to Dandy.
    • Monolith Productions' Get Medieval.
    • Lilith the Necromancer is one for the Sorceress from Dark Legacy, as both are black, female spellcasters with white hair, use wands as a weapon, and have undead-summoning abilities (Lilith is a necromancer, while the Sorceress has a Limit Break that summons skeletons and hails from the zombie-infested Forsaken Province realm).
  • Squishy Wizard: In the original game, the Wizard takes full damage, but his magic potions destroy all enemies on screen while it may take other characters two or three useless to defeat the stronger ones. Other characters have a reduction up to 30%. The Sorceress from Dark Legacy also counts as this.
  • Stationary Enemy: The baddies have archers, often perched in a compartment or tower with no direct route to engage them. From their vantage point, these mook archers have a near-perfect field of fire, and are only vulnerable to return fire from Questor or the wizard Merlin. Of course, they also have limitless quivers of arrows.
  • 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.
  • Tele-Frag:
    • One item from Gauntlet II gives players temporary transportability, allowing that player teleport from one side of the a wall to the other. Should an enemy be positioned where that player teleports to, the enemy is immediately killed.
    • Moving walls invert this rule. When walls move, any segment that would normally appear where any player or enemy stands simply won't materialize.
  • 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.
    • Literally trying to figure out the vault password for level 00. There are a few guides online that can decipher what the password is, but back in the day, you had to stack yourself with written passwords like crazy. You can retrieve the password clues by going to the clue levels; miss any of the clue levels and the game becomes much more difficult to figure out how to get the vault password by getting a ton of game overs.
  • True Blue Femininity: Thyra the Valkyrie. The blue Valkyrie from Legends / Dark Legacy also counts as this.
  • True Final Boss: Garm in Dark Legacy. The very same mage trounced by Skorne in the intro of Legends.
  • Überwald: The Forsaken Province and its hero, the Sorceress.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Gauntlet NES was meant to utilize the password system at its maximum. Here are the most notorious examples:
    • The game forces you to get all of the Clue "?" levels completed. Miss one and you are forced to guess that letter; getting it wrong before approaching room 00 gives you a Non Standard Game Over.
    • Room 80 has an exit that places you to the title screen.
    • Room 94 has an exit that leads to room 95-96. The only problem is that room 96 is a dead end without any exits.
  • 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.
    • The Lich is this for Dark Legacy, especially for people expecting something like the Dragon. As one of two bosses that moves around, the Lich is tough, he has a leaping slam that lets him close the distance quick, and has some surprisingly powerful attacks with wide ranges that'll cut unseasoned heroes down to size like greased lightning.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Trope Namer, also overlaps with Hyperactive Metabolism. The announcer's line is even referenced into a song by the Duloks and Five Iron Frenzy.
  • 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.

The book PATHS OF EVIL uses these tropes:

  • Aerith and Bob: We have Layla, Kore and then... Morgan and Orlando. Most of the book's NPCs also have very ordinary (or at least real-world) names like Sebastian and Celeste.
  • Composite Character: The Dark Lord Asrioth is a Lich (the Province boss) but has the appearance and attacks of the Shadow Wraith (the Dream boss) from the games.
  • Covers Always Lie: The book's cover features the Wizard, Valkyrie, and Elf, along with Dark Legacy's Knight and Dwarf. The latter two do not exist in the novel.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Morgan notes that his food supply is running low. Orlando quips "Does this mean the wizard needs food badly?"
    • Sumner provides each of the four heroes with signet rings. These rings transform them into their respective secret characters: Minotaur for Warrior, Falconess for Valkyrie, Jackal for Wizard and Tigress for Elf.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Orlando the Warrior, Layla the Valkyrie, Kore the Elf Archer, and Morgan the Wizard. The setting is Viridus, while the game's individual realms are named like Buchanan Castle and Doomed Forest.
  • Novelization: The book adapts Sumner's Tower, Forest Realm, Forsaken Province and Castle Stronghold from Dark Legacy.
  • Orphaned Series: Due to the demise of the publisher.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The book mentioned four runestones exist (where the heroes find two); while the Province and Castle realms are merged together with an undead army.
  • Shout-Out: Morgan the Wizard is an obvious reference to Morgan Le Fay.
  • Sequel Hook: The Spider Queen and Lich are defeated, and the rest of the demon lords are winding up. Still no mention of Garm, Skorne, or the other four heroes.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: While scouting the town infested with undead, Morgan counts 180 skeletons and 285 zombies. Orlando remarks "almost 400 enemies", which Morgan responds with "fighting 365 undead won't be easy".

Alternative Title(s): Gauntlet Dark Legacy


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