Platforms: Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Apple IIgs, Arcade, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, IBM PC/Compatibles, Macintosh, MSX, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum


Main Genre:
3rd-Person , Top-Down
Visual Presentation:
Scrolling (Horizontal or Vertical)


Arcade version of Gauntlet
Arcade version of Gauntlet
Gauntlet is an action hack and slash style dungeon crawl game by Atari Games. It was originally released in arcades in October 1985 and later ported to numerous home computers and game consoles. The object of the game is to locate one of several exits in each of the numerous dungeons while numerous enemies and increasingly complex dungeon layouts impede the players progress. Gauntlet is one of the first multi-player dungeon crawl style games with up to four players able to play simultaneously.


Gauntlet has a top-down view of the maze-like dungeon. The goal is to find one of the exits from each dungeon to continue on to the next, more difficult dungeon. Each character begins the game with a limited amount of health; the character dies when the health counter reaches zero. The health counter reduces slowly over time essentially providing a time limit to the game; in addition, contact with enemies or anything they fire will reduce health further. It is possible to increase health by collecting food which is located throughout the dungeon. In addition to food, players are also able to locate keys which can be used to open locked doors. Some of the doors in the dungeon are required to be opened in order to reach an exit, while others are optional. The optional doors can lead to short-cuts through the maze, food bonuses, dead ends, or alternate exits. If a player doesn't have enough keys to open a door to complete a dungeon, it may still be possible to complete the dungeon as walls in the maze will eventually turn to exits if the player waits long enough (however this takes a very, very long time, and players may not have enough health to last that long). In addition to keys and enemies, there are also bonuses located throughout the dungeon. Treasure chests can frequently be found and provide bonus points. There are several different types of amulets which provide players with temporary bonuses such as invulnerability or increased firepower for a short period of time.


Each player in the game can choose a different character. In the original arcade game up to four players could play at once, however in several of the home computer ports (including the IBM PC version) only two players at a time were allowed. Players can attack enemies in hand-to-hand combat, with a long range attack, or with magic. Using magic requires first finding a magic potion bottle in the dungeon and affects many (or all) enemies that are currently visible on the screen. The characters in the game have different strengths and weaknesses; the playable characters are:
  • Thor the Warrior: The strongest in hand-to-hand combat, but is slow moving and has very limited magic abilities.
  • Merlin the Wizard: The most powerful using magic spells (often can clear the entire screen with a single potion). Moderate speed and attacks.
  • Thyra the Valkyrie: Has the strongest armour for defense, but weaker on offense.
  • Questor the Elf: The quickest of the characters, but has moderate magic abilities and weak attacks.
Blocking progress through the dungeons are large quantities of enemies. Enemies are spawned by generators located throughout the dungeon and can be fought either hand-to-hand, with a weapon, or with magic. If one of the generators is destroyed, no new enemies will appear at that location. Enemies that will be encountered include the following:
  • Ghosts: Ghosts are among the weaker of the enemies, however than can only be shot; hand-to-hand combat does not work on them. Once a ghosts comes in contact with a player it will dissappear so ghosts are unable to repeatedly attack a player. It can take one or multiple shots to destroy a ghost.
  • Grunts: Grunts carry clubs used to attack a player at close range; Unlike ghosts, grunts will continue to attack a player until they are destroyed. Compared to ghosts, grunts are more diffuclt to destroy and can do more damage to a player.
  • Demons: Demons shoot fireballs and can attack from afar.
  • Lobbers: Lobbers are the only enemies that are scared of players and run away when appraoched. However, they are able to throw objects over walls so they can attack players while safely hiding.
  • Sorcerers: Sorcerers can attack from afar by shooting magic. They also "blink", alternating between visible and invisible. While invisible sorcerers are invulnerable to attacks as well as impossible to see.
  • Thieves: Thieves steal keys from players.
  • Death: Death is the most deadly enemy in the game. When a player comes into contact with death the players health will decrease extremely rapidly. Death is also very difficult to destroy with hand-to-hand combat and takes several attacks with magic to destroy.
Gauntlet Characters


Platform: Arcade
Designer/Programmer: Ed Logg
Game Programmer: Bob Flanagan
Video Graphics: Sam Comstock, Susan G. McBride, Alan J. Murphy, Will Noble, Dave Pettigrew
Engineer: Pat McCarthy
Technician: Sae Oh, Chris Drobny
Sound Design: Hal Canon, Earl Vickers
Cabinet Design: Ken Hata
Special Thanks To: David Theurer, Mike Albaugh, and Many Others
Platform: Atari 8-bit
Game Programmer: Bob Armour
Graphics: Kevin Bulmer
Sound and Additional Programming by: Bill Allen
Music: Ben Daglish
Platform: Macintosh
Macintosh version (1.0) by: Fred Haslam


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Arcade Version
4 Player Variation
Arcade Version
2 Player Variation


Instruction Manual
IBM PC/Compatibles


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