Gauntlet was released by Atari in 1985. It was one of the first multi-player dungeon fantasy games produced, and it would suck quarters out of your pocket faster than a shop vac. Up to four people could play at once, and the character was chosen by which slot you put your quarter in. You could choose Thor the warrior, Merlin the Wizard, Thrya the Valkyrie, or Questor the Elf. Like Dungeons and Dragons, each character had a special set of abilities. The warrior was strongest, the wizard had the magic, Valkyrie had the best armor, and the elf was fastest on his feet.
The game took a top down perspective, and players navigated through a series of mazes, destroying enemies like ghosts, grunts, demons, sorcerers, and Death (the worst of them all). Health bonuses could be found on the levels, in the form of food or beer, keys were used to open gates, and other bonuses included treasure and potions. More and more skill was required to progress through subsequent levels, and if players worked cooperatively, they could make it pretty far. When a player’s health ran out and they died, a quick quarter would put them right back in the game at their last experience level. One of the most memorable aspects of Gauntlet was the digitized voice that would say things like “Warrior needs food”, or “Elf is about to Die”. If you did something stupid, the voice would remind you, saying things like “don’t shoot food”, or “shots don’t hurt other players…yet”.
Gauntlet II was released in 1986. Its biggest improvement was the fact that you could choose any of the four characters at any time. There were a number of console versions released for the more powerful systems, and the game was also part of the Midway’s Greatest Arcade Hits disc for the GameCube and later for the Midway Arcade Origins (2012).