GAUNTLET II REVIEW by Richard Karsmakers
"Keep your hands off of me!" A female's voice echoed through the
In a dark place in a dark forest, one of Odin's handmaidens was
being held by a couple of mean looking trolls. They pinched her
and growled at her while she lay on the ground, cunningly tied.
"Just wait until my master comes to my aid!", she cried, "I am
Thyra the Valkyrie and I have duties to attend*; he will surely
find out when I'm missing and have you filthy trolls for
The trolls uttered some vicious fits of laughter as they saw her
hands trying to get loose. No matter what's been said of trolls -
they sure knew how to tie knots, so Thyra found out at her own
"You will surely regain your freedom," laughed the biggest and
ugliest of the trolls, "albeit temporarily! Har har!"
In the mean time, somewhere else in the dense forest
undergrowth, an Elf lay on the ground, listening. He was Questron
son of Glorfindel, hiding for a mean looking bunch of trolls that
were looking for trouble. As far as he was concerned, they could
get trouble if they wanted - they only had him outnumbered so he
lay flat on his face, even afraid to breathe. For the time being,
this seemed the smartest solution.
Unfortunately, Questron had an illness that only very few elves
ever had. It was called....Aaatchie!!....hayfever.
The trolls heard a sudden noise and saw the elf lying in his
shelter. "Food!" some of them yelled, and drew their knives.
They were just about to utilize their sharp blades at the brave
but outnumbered elf when a stout and low voice shouted:
"Halt, you fools! Are your brains filled by dwarfs' guts? You
know what we have to do when we find any fair people!" When
speaking the last two words, he made a face as if he was chewing
on something he disliked. He spitted in the elf's face to get rid
Merlin looked up from his thoughts as he imagined to hear a
distant cry in the forest. There it was again: A long, wailing
cry that went right through his bones. "The Troll King is on the
hunt for Sauromancer the reptile eater," he knew, "my assistance
He walked down the hill, leaning on his stick. Suddenly, he
vanished into thin air.
Thor's axe had already cleaved several trolls' skulls, and blood
was dripping from it. There must have been a dozen corpses at his
feet, and the trolls just kept coming.
A giant troll with a crown tilted on his filthy head appeared on
a nearby hill and screamed: "We want him alive! I'll personally
dine on whoever dares to kill that warrior!"
Thor felt himself strengthened when he heard that, and his
mighty muscles made the axe sway around once more, beheading
several trolls. Blood sprayed around, and eyes grew dim.
A heavy piece of wood was lifted above Thor's head - obviously
manned by a troll that was the smartest at home.
All Thor further saw that day was a black darkness, filled with
tiny stars as he kneeled down and fell forward like a block of
It was already getting dark when Merlin discovered a trolls'
camp on the mountainside. There were several guards, and inside
the tents he could here aggravated cries. He tried to get a
little bit closer and caught something of the conversation that
was going on between what turned out to be two highly ranked
trolls inside the tent.
"Finally we've got what Lurkhead, our dear monarch, wants!" said
one of them.
"Yeah, sure, he has to feed the dragon in the maze or otherwise
the beast will come up and look for food - right at Sauromancer's
palace!" answered the other one, "and we're the ones suffering:
That damn warrior killed about two dozen of us, and that damn
valkyrie castrated old Grindleguts!"
"All we now need," continued the first troll, "is...."
"..A WIZARD perhaps?" Merlin looked behind him and saw a troll
standing behind him. Damn! Why had he forgotten to take his
invisibility spell with him?! The troll took Merlin's magic staff
and broke it in two. It then laughed with self-satisfaction.
The other two trolls came out of their tent. "Grindleguts!" one
of them pronounced, "what have you there? A wizard?!" - "Yep,"
Grindleguts proudly said, "and I was the one who captured him.
All on my own!"
Merlin kept quiet and hid his inflatable stick in one of his
boots in the commotion. Shortly after, he was led to a tent where
he met Thyra, Questron and Thor.
After the trolls had left them alone. Only a couple of guards
were outside that now and then peered in with water dripping from
the corners of their mouths - especially when looking at Thyra.
"What are they going to do with us, Merlin?" Thor asked, while
gently stroking a bump of formidable dimensions, partly hidden
under his long brown hair.
Merlin sat silent for a while. "As far as I know, they are going
to feed us to the dragon in the evil maze near to Isnagoth."
"Isnagoth!" cried Questron, "the place where my forefathers died
in the battle against he whose name we shan't mention?"
The wizard did not say a word, and merely nodded. Some tears
appeared in Thyra's eyes: "When will that be, Merlin?"
"We will know more in the morning. Sleep now, you'll need all
the strength you can get before the moon rises again!" Merlin
cast a spell and they all fell in a deep and untroubled sleep.
The sun had barely started shining when they were awoken by the
hoarse voices of trolls. "Arise! Arise, fair people!" (SPIT) They
were on a wagon that was pulled by twelve ferocious Wargs**,
obviously put there during their deep sleep, on their way to the
city of Isnagoth. Already, the dark silhouettes of the towers of
the doomed city loomed in the hazy distance.
The procession left the road and headed for a seemingly lost
amphitheatre, partly hidden behind large oak trees. The town was
not their destination - it was the maze they were heading for.
When they entered the amphitheatre, they saw that it was filled
with trolls - the troll king was also present, sitting next to a
man clad in red and black: Sauromancer the reptile eater. They
all started to make humming noises as they recognized the four
figures on the wagon.
In the middle of the amphitheatre, a large hole was made. A hole
that was large enough for the dragon to get out - and thus more
than large enough for four of these 'fair people' to be dropped
The whole theatre fell silent when Sauromancer arose.
"Citizens of Isnagoth! Behold the feeding of he who has to be
fed! Let the prisoners step forward!"
Sauromancer stepped forward and climbed down the tribune. He
passed the prisoners and they suddenly felt cold and dead. He
stood still at the edge of the giant hole in the ground. He took
a cross from his robe and held it in the air, upside down.
"Astorath! Astorath!" he yelled, "ye habe ne vara ili gom sato!"
A growling sound arose from the depths of the maze, and shivers
ran down the spines of the prisoners (as well as those of some
younger trolls). Sauromancer nodded to the guards to let the
prisoners down the steep stairs.
Thor, Thyra, Questron and Merlin were forced to climb down the
steps - to face a maze in which death would almost certainly
Grindleguts kept well away of Thyra, and thought he saw her
eyeing some other trolls when she disappeared down the stairs as
the last one, into the dragon's maze.
* = Valkyries are usually on duty at the battlefield or in
Walhalla, being servants of Odin.
** = According to research by Tolkien, Wargs (evil wolves)
seldom work together with trolls, but rather like to be in the
vicinity of orcs. These Wargs are an exception to that rule.
After having had to wait quite a long time (an educated guess
would bring it to a little over half a year), U.S. Gold finally
seemed to find the time fit to publish the sequel to the arcade
conversion "Gauntlet": "Gauntlet II". Also supplied on two disks,
"Gauntlet II" features other (more intricate and difficult)
levels as well as enhanced gameplay.
The player already starts to be amazed right from the beginning
of the game: A sideview of the arcade hall "Gauntlet II" machine
appears on the screen, that after some loading turns very
realistically towards to spectator and ultimately displays the
"Gauntlet II" arcade screen with brilliant graphics, some color
rasters on the screen and the digitized version of the original
arcade hall music. Probably the best and most advanced intro
sequence ever produced on the Atari ST - takes a lot of memory
though, and half meg owners will find that some loading is needed
between the graphics sequence and the starting of the music.
After the intro, loading proceeds as usual, until at a certain
time you are requested to insert the second disk in drive A.
After having done that, the loading process commences.
But alas! After some more seconds, the disk drive starts making
the weirdest sounds imaginable, and after having heard that for
too long a time, I pushed the little grey button on the back of
A second booting process reveals the same problem, until I
decide to load the game on another disk drive (at a friend's).
Loading now proceeds without these hazardous sounds, and playing
can be started as usual ("Gauntlet II" does NOT work on Cumana
disk drives, was the conclusion of the above. So beware if you
happen to have one of those devices!).
"Gauntlet II" is principally the same as its predecessor, but
features (as I already mentioned) different levels, almost
perfectly smooth scrolling and a lot more digitized sound effects
and speech. "Gauntlet II" can also be played with four players,
but instead of two joysticks and two keyboard players, four
joysticks are now supported (via a special interface that can be
bought at £5,99 from U.S. Gold).
The graphics are still excellent, and together with the
mentioned new features this makes it much better value for money
than the original "Gauntlet". "Gauntlet II", proves (together
with products like "Bubble Bobble", "Bionic Commando" and
"Sidewinder") that converting arcade games to our humble ST can
be quite a success and can result in some pretty excellent games!
Name: Gauntlet II
Company: U.S. Gold
Value for Money: 8+
Overall rating: 8.5
Price: 69.50 Dutch guilders
Remark: Big, huge, impressive, good! Just
does not work on Cumana drives...
Thanks to Mr. Harry van Horen from Homesoft, Holland. If the
game had worked on my Cumana drive, I would probably have bough
it. But now...alas!
For info, contact:
U.S. Gold Ltd.
Units 2/3 Holford Way
Birmingham B6 7AX