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Gauntlet 4

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Released: 1993

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive

Publisher: Tengen

Developer: Tengen

Submitted by: Stuart McCord

The Gauntlet games have always had a special place in my heart. My brother and I spent many an hour when I was little hunched over our copy of Gauntlet II for the Amstrad CPC (“look, I’ll collect the keys, you collect the potions!”). This version was the first Megadrive cart compatible with the optional four-player adapter and was pretty damn good.

As well as a couple of extra modes which were a laugh for a few minutes (battling against your mates in Duel Mode or setting impressive feats in Record Mode), what we had here was two separate offerings of classic Gauntlet goodness. The first, Arcade Mode, was an absolutely arcade-perfect port of the original 1985 coin-op. All the same level layouts and now-legendary in-game speech were present and correct.

And the biggie – Quest Mode. This main feature added several nice improvements, mainly by giving the game an RPG feel with all-new levels and a password system for saving your game. Gone were the ‘hidden potions’ (for extra shot power, armour etc – present in Arcade Mode of course) replaced by accruing experience points to spend on improving these abilities as you pleased. Gone also was your score, it now said ‘gold’ – so the loot in those familiar-looking treasure boxes could now be saved up and spent in the shop to further strengthen your character. Watch out though – some innocent-looking and strategically-placed chests would start sapping your heath until you shot them. All the same classic monsters were also here to give you a hard time – although personally I would have liked to see the ‘tag, you’re it’ monster from Gauntlet II make an appearance here (which used to be a great laugh as you and your mates would desperately chase each other around the screen to tag each other and stop ‘em all coming after you! Memories…)

Anyway if you’re any sort of Gauntlet fan, give this instalment a look as it’s brilliant stuff. A special mention must go to the music, as it’s got to rank among the best soundtracks the Megadrive’s ever produced.