Gauntlet versus Dandy Dungeons? Who, has ever heard
of or seen Dandy Dungeons?
For the benefit of the unenlightened amongst you let
me give you a bit of background information. As most readers
probably know Gauntlet has been the smash hit of the arcades for the
last year or so – the ultimate two player game! Dandy Dungeons is
very similar, in fact the gameplay is almost exactly the same. HA!
So it's just a rip-off of that old favourite Gauntlet, eh? Well, no.
To be more precise Gauntlet is just a rip-off of that old favourite
Many years ago APX (Atari Program Exchange), then a
division of Atari Inc., released a game by John Palevitch, who also
wrote Deep Blue C. This game was Dandy Dungeons. The idea of the
game was simply survive as long as possible, collecting, shooting,
and using various items whilst avoiding numerous foes. Many years
later Atari Coin-Op converted this almost forgotten game into the
classic arcade machine Gauntlet. The rest, as they say, is history.
moons ago U.S. Gold announced the 'imminent' release of the arcade
classic Gauntlet on various home computers. Gauntlet fans rejoiced
everywhere. In somewhat 'Sinclair style' the release of the game was
delayed although a few, bug-ridden, versions did reach the shops.
(US Gold denied this but then withdrew the game to make some 'minor
alterations'). Eventually the game was re-released and at last
Gauntlet gurus everywhere could sample the real thing at home! I
wasted no time in getting the game, this was one game where I felt
money was no object!
I booted up my disk and waited...and waited...and
waited! The game takes simply eons to load as whoever did the
protection on this really went to town! My disk drive chugged,
grinded, and grunted for what seemed an age with only a simple
message on screen informing me that Gauntlet was loading. Eventually
I was greeted with a good title page and some fine title music. I
chose the wizard and the disk chugged once more. Finally a message
appeared telling me to flip my disk. After completing this task I
was finally greeted with the dungeon and my wizard. There I was! Me,
the wizard, in my very own dungeon! Yeuugh! It was vile! The wizard
was indescribably blocky and yukky whilst the dungeon was almost
totally lacking in any interesting detail at all. There was nothing
but the wizard on the screen so, foolishly, I advanced. Animation of
the wizard was reasonably good and I decided that maybe Gauntlet
wasn't as bad as my first impressions had lead me to believe. Soon I
meet my first hoard of ghosts. I ran and shot at them as they jerked
after me(yes, JERKED!). Regrettably the game grew worse as it went
with so much energy that you can last for so long that the game gets
boring. The graphics are only average, colours are a bit off, the
ghosts and other meanies jerk around the screen in 'Spectrum'
fashion, whilst the player begins to wonder what the point of it all
is. Most importantly the gameplay is poor. The collision registers
seem a bit dodgy and movement is sluggish. Even on a two player game
things get no better. Sound effects are almost non-existent. At
least the title music is quite good.
I am afraid in my opinion the 8-bit Atari version of
Gauntlet is a non-starter. By the way, if you insert the disk on the
wrong side you are greeted with a message telling you to flip the
disk and press the 'START' key. This is accompanied by a spinning
animated disk which is clearly the best animation in the whole game!
So this is the game that Gauntlet was based on? When
I first saw it I never gave it a fair chance. After booting up I
took one look at the graphics and movement, decided that it was no
good and never tried it again. Sometime later after I had heard that
it was the game that Gauntlet was based on I re-booted it with
renewed vigour. This time I gave the game a fair run. The graphics
are blocky but colourful. The animation is poor. The sound is almost
non-existent. There are no different characters, only players 1 to 4
(yes 4) which are simply static shapes of a man with a large number
(1-4) on. They jerk everywhere. Believe it or not I was hooked!!
What sets Dandy Dungeons apart is the gameplay. It is
almost identical to Gauntlet in the arcades which shows how closely
Gauntlet was based on Dandy Dungeons. The game is simplicity in the
extreme, and it works superbly. On the multiple player modes Dandy
Dungeon is almost unbeatable and there is also a very big bonus – a
dungeon editor! This means that the user can create new dungeons
when he/she has completed the ones provided and they are incredibly
easy to make. You can have an infinite number in one game by disk
swapping (26 is the maximum on one disk).
To me, there is simply no competition between
Gauntlet and Dandy Dungeons. Despite all the advances in graphics
and sound and the `technique' of modern Atari games, Dandy Dungeons
is so far ahead in playability it is unbelievable. Gauntlet retails
for about £8.95 on cassette and £12.95 on disk. Dandy Dungeons may
be hard, verging on impossible to find but if you are lucky you may
be able to get it at a bargain price. There are a few places selling
APX games for as little as £1.50 each!
I know I have been hard on Gauntlet but I had
expected so much after playing the arcade games that I felt so
disappointed by the Atari version. The arcade Gauntlet is still the
best for me, although I have great hopes for the ST version however
I have a feeling that I may never hear those immortal words "The
Wizard is going to die!" on my computer!.