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Wizard, as an ironist, you alone receive some sense of subjective freedom.
October 15, 2009 6:47 AM   Subscribe


 
overthinking a plate of 8bit gaming?
posted by litleozy at 6:56 AM on October 15, 2009


Still can hear that booming voice: "Valkyrie is about to die!"
posted by jbickers at 7:01 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Elf needs food!
posted by josher71 at 7:04 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Warrior needs food, badly!
posted by Reverend John at 7:10 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Elf shot the food!

fucking elf.
posted by Justinian at 7:10 AM on October 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


So... Aisle 16 is British for McSweeney's?

What is "greatful" British for?
posted by kittyprecious at 7:11 AM on October 15, 2009


“The original Gauntlet was released with no ending. The hundred or so levels were randomised and looped for as long as play lasted. Atari saw Gauntlet as a process, a game that was played for its own sake and not to reach completion. The adventurers continue forever until their life drains out, their quest ultimately hopeless.”

WTF?! YOU MIGHT HAVE TOLD ME THAT BEFORE I STARTED PLAYING!

First the Kobiyashi Maru, then Wargames, now this. What the hell was it about the 80's that Western culture was obsessed with games you couldn't win?
posted by zarq at 7:36 AM on October 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


See also: Wall Street
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:42 AM on October 15, 2009


Surely Gauntlet glitches at some point, like Pac-Man does? Someone leeter than I should investigate.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:47 AM on October 15, 2009


The original Gauntlet was released with no ending. The hundred or so levels were randomised and looped for as long as play lasted. Atari saw Gauntlet as a process, a game that was played for its own sake and not to reach completion. The adventurers continue forever until their life drains out, their quest ultimately hopeless.

On the one hand, yeah, would've been GOOD TO KNOW. On the other hand, "hundred or so"? I don't think I ever got past level "six or so".
posted by DU at 7:51 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Warrior needs Valkyrie, badly!
posted by euphorb at 7:58 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


When we played this in college, for some reason my housemate called the game DEFCON.
posted by dabug at 8:00 AM on October 15, 2009


Is gauntlet a roguelike? Punishlingly difficult (and boring!), infinite, and random, with almost no story-line to speak of. If games want to be art that imitates life, then they could do worse in many people's esitmations than be a roguelike.

All kidding aside...

I really hope that a true-form 3D roguelike comes out within the next few years or so. It's been tried before (Doom 3's roguelike mod, and Baroque for the PS2) but for the most part roguelikes have been niche games, mostly limited to 2 dimensions on the PC or the handheld systems.
posted by codacorolla at 8:07 AM on October 15, 2009


On the one hand, yeah, would've been GOOD TO KNOW. On the other hand, "hundred or so"? I don't think I ever got past level "six or so".

I worked at a movie theater in high school which had a Gauntlet arcade game. One of the managers used to open it up and punch in a bunch of credits, so we could play on off hours. I'm pretty sure I managed to get up to level 30 or more on that machine.

That was a fun time. We routinely finished the TMNT arcade game, too.
posted by zarq at 8:10 AM on October 15, 2009


The arcade version of this took all of my quarters. Seriously.

Ghidorah needed quarters, badly.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:10 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Five Iron Frenzy: Wizard Needs Food Badly
posted by zarq at 8:14 AM on October 15, 2009


my housemate called the game DEFCON

My little brother called it Gauncluck, which is all I can think of it as, these days.

Tonight I shall create an SMS tone of the 'going through an exit' noise, and a corresponding ringtone of the horrific sound of being Deathed by Death.
posted by thoughtless at 8:22 AM on October 15, 2009


> On the one hand, yeah, would've been GOOD TO KNOW. On the other hand, "hundred or so"? I don't think I ever got past level "six or so".

The only arcade game I ever finished was some early-90s Double Dragon ripoff (there were three fighters instead of two). Me and two other guys spent (IIRC) upwards of ten bucks each, and when we got to the final screen and killed the boss, the three characters walked off the right side of the screen...and into the left side of the very first level. Money well spent!
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:38 AM on October 15, 2009


I've beaten the Alien Vs. Predator arcade game, but I'm kind of convinced that that particular game was created to appeal perfectly to me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:51 AM on October 15, 2009


Wha-ow, that never gets old.
posted by zippy at 9:06 AM on October 15, 2009


I don't want to wax too poetic here, but man Gauntlet was great.

To kids raised on D&D and Atari, I don't think we ever even *considered* that it might have an ending. What do you do when you clear a dungeon level? Clear another dungeon level. And keep going until you're out of quarters or mom comes to get you. That feeling of infinite exploration, of being able to just keep going and going and going as long as you could stay alive, there was something special about that.

I remember when the weird hybrid cartoon/video game "Dragon's Lair" came out. It looked more like hand animation than a video game, which we all thought was kinda cool. But there was literally one way to do everything. No freeform, no choices at all. After a while we realized the kids who were good at it weren't even really "fighting" the monsters the way we thought of it until then. They were just memorizing a series of exact joystick moves required to beat that particular stage.

I love narrative in books and films, but sometimes I wish they would have kept it out of video games altogether and just let us have fun.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:06 AM on October 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also:

Nostalgia for bygone eras doesn't hurt other users...

yet.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:07 AM on October 15, 2009


A good friend of mine in college had mastered Gauntlet, the coin-op version. We would go to the local Dairy Queen and he would put in one quarter, and then would play until he couldn't take it anymore. He could amass enough health that he could clear a level, get rid of the thief (who appears twice per level, I believe), and take a nap and come back to the game before his life ran out. He could literally play until he just didn't care anymore. It was fascinating to watch a master at work like that.

And to answer this question, no Gauntlet does not have a glitch out like Pac Man does. At least, when we once convinced the manager of one of the places which had a machine to remain open continuously until my friend got tired of playing (which I believe was about 36 hours with a couple of 30 minute naps), the game just continued and continued and continued.
posted by hippybear at 9:19 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


My friend has a Gauntlet machine modified with a pause button (it's not hard, we went over the schematics when he bought it from the arcade at Pier 39 [that our other friend used to manage] back in 88 or 89, and if I remember correctly it was possible to basically just pause the M68000 outright with a simple switch installation) and a quarter inserting button. This friend of mine was good at Gauntlet. He could play indefinitely on a single credit if he so desired.

Anyway, I say this because there's one thing I can guarantee, and with judicious use of the pause switch could go down there and verify this weekend: Gauntlet has no ending or level counter glitch. It really does go on forever. The first however many levels are fixed, but after that it's random. Or it's a loop of levels. I forget which, it's been 20 years.
posted by majick at 9:49 AM on October 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also: Does the word "review" mean something different to me than it does to whatsisname .uk weblog guy? Because what I read wasn't a review. It was, what do they call it in the UK? "Wankery?"
posted by majick at 9:50 AM on October 15, 2009


zarq: We routinely finished the TMNT arcade game, too.

Two people could hammer through that game in about two dollars and twenty minutes, and yet it was still deeply satisfying.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:52 AM on October 15, 2009


I still can't get over the metaphysical weirdness of USE MAGIC TO KILL DEATH.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:54 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Two people could hammer through that game in about two dollars and twenty minutes, and yet it was still deeply satisfying.

Definitely. Especially since each turtle had their own signature moves and there were a number of character team combinations. One's tactics changed, depending on who was being played and who one was teamed with.

Solo play was fun, albeit harder. A person could finish the game with Raphael, then start all over again and master it with Leonardo, etc.
posted by zarq at 10:01 AM on October 15, 2009


I still can't get over the metaphysical weirdness of USE MAGIC TO KILL DEATH.

"DROP THE SCYTHE, AND TURN AROUND SLOWLY."
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on October 15, 2009


I remember when the weird hybrid cartoon/video game "Dragon's Lair" came out. It looked more like hand animation than a video game, which we all thought was kinda cool. But there was literally one way to do everything. No freeform, no choices at all.

It was hand animation, and done by Don Bluth--Dragon's Lair machines were basically laserdisc players with a joystick and buttons. They'd play through a video sequence and listen for input from the joystick and/or sword button at certain points in the sequence. If the player chose the right action, the machine would play the "success" sequence and move on to the next scene. Otherwise (i.e., most of the time for me) the "failure" sequence would play, followed by a clip of the character dying and loading the next scene.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:22 AM on October 15, 2009


"Wizard shot the food."
posted by Monkeymoo at 10:36 AM on October 15, 2009


Back in the day I was the only one of my friends who had the home version of Gauntlet (for the Commodore 64). Because of my incessant play during one summer I had all the levels memorized, and in a few cases people actually paid for me to play in arcades in return for me taking them along as a guide through the game.

The levels were random after, I think, 8, but they were drawn from a collection that didn't appear in levels 1 through 7 (which were fixed). There was one level (a square divided by walls into four smaller squares, full of ghost generators that made the three-hit ghosts with red eyes) for which you would always take a loss in health in order to beat, and another one that punished you if you were greedy (you had a choice between going immediately into the exit, or fighting your way through a horde of monsters to reach a potion). Other than that, four skilled, cooperative players could pass through the game with even a slight gain in health from one level to the next, though this depended mostly on the game's settings--some Gauntlet machines gave you more health for each quarter than others, and the rate at which your health naturally depleted also varied from one machine to the next. Good players knew which arcades in town were the most generous.

The devilish genius of Gauntlet's design is that it worked to turn players against each other, though--on any setting past the very easiest, you could do well only as long as you played co-operatively. When the game announced that "valkyrie shot the food," the other players would agree to punish that player by not allowing him to take the next food; when the elf used his superior speed to pick up treasures before anyone else, he'd be punished for that with future non-cooperation, and so on. You had to remember to let the warrior (the slowest player) get the food sometimes, because you'd need his axe to chew through a narrow corridor later on, but oftentimes the warrior would get the short end of the stick. At level 1 of the game there is no penalty for friendly fire; at one point (level 8? I'm doing this from memory) the rules change so that shots stun other players, and then, by level 13, shots hurt other players, which is about the time when the warrior would get his revenge on anyone who has mistreated him.

Rarely could four boys on the edge of puberty get too far past level 13 of Gauntlet, even though, in comparison to the twitch games that filled arcades during that period, it required very little skill. Doing well in Gauntlet required social skills that children of that age had not yet learned. I saw fistfights break out in front of the console at least a couple of times.
posted by Prospero at 10:47 AM on October 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Prospero's summary is pretty decent; what no one seems to have gotten here, though (it's mentioned near the end of that exceedingly tedious "review") is that, if you waited in one spot long enough, about three minutes or so IIRC, all the walls would turn into exits--that is, each individual square that made up the wall would be an exit square. At that point, you had two choices: either exit (sometimes accidentally by running into an exit-wall), or clear the level by shooting across the exit-walls; you could either take out the monster generators immediately or farm the monsters if you preferred. If they were the fireball-shooting monsters, they could of course (and did) shoot across the walls at you in return; those levels you were better off skipping. The rest were super E-Z to clear, grab potions and food, etc.

By now, you, Clever Reader, may have guessed that I have more than a passing familiarity with the game. In fact, the above knowledge helped save my sanity back in the day, when I was unemployed following college; I could, and did, while away hours on a single quarter at the college-town pizzeria in this manner. I am grateful to the employees who didn't change the settings on the machine (if that's possible) to change this option, or simply kick me out for not buying anything. (If I were in a similar situation today, I'd probably spend it playing Mafia Wars on a public access computer at my local public library.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2009


Haven't had a chance to read this yet, but...

HOLY CRAP, that quote at the beginning is mine!
posted by JHarris at 3:11 PM on October 15, 2009


Also, as far as Gauntlet-based humor goes, I rather think I like my own take better. Here is the page the quote came from.

Is Gauntlet a roguelike? Although I've heard it described as one before, I'd have to say no. It fails most of the tests of Berlin interpretation, which is one of the best sets of criteria I have seen. It does have that sense of hopelessness (when played solo at least) and challenge, but that is hardly limited to roguelikes.

The problem with the walls-to-exits trick is that it takes a long time, like 300 ticks of doing nothing. That enables the players to limit any health loss on a level to 300, but rare is the level in which the players can safely get more than 300 health without facing many monsters.

Prospero, I hear that one of the less-heard speech bits in Gauntlet' ROM is "(player) seems to be getting all the food lately." I've not heard it myself, but that didn't stop me from using it in the above piece.

I overall prefer Gauntlet II, which has more varied play, secret tricks, several kinds of powerups and generally higher difficulty.

But to get back to subject... it still surprises me how many people don't know Gauntlet is endless. It seems like my own article might be the primary source of information for that little fact. Once you get over the idea that you're going for an ending the game is still enjoyable, but a lot of people do lose interest when they find out. NES Gauntlet, by the way, does have an ending, although it's one of those games that makes you jump through hoops to find it.

I have read somewhere (maybe a FAQ) that at level 100, the game turns off the movement limits in multiplayer games, letting players wander off-screen if they choose.
posted by JHarris at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Hm, but the page is paraphrased more than quoted, I notice now.)
posted by JHarris at 3:48 PM on October 15, 2009


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