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Gauntlet 1985 Arcade Poster.jpg

Blue Wizard Needs Food Badly!

Introduced in 1985, Atari's Gauntlet was based on the earlier Dandy, written for the Atari 8 Bit Computers. Up to four heroes — a warrior, a valkyrie, a wizard and an elf — went through a series of Dungeon Crawls, viewed from above in a scrolling window, collecting treasure and defeating monsters. Each player had a joystick and two buttons, labeled "Fire" and "Magic"; the latter button activated a potion which weakened or destroyed all enemies on the screen. Each hero had a specialty: the warrior did extra damage, the valkyrie had the best defense, the wizard did more extra damage when using potions, and the elf trumped everyone in movespeed.

To keep you feeding coins, Atari invented the "Wizard Needs Food Badly" trope: while food provides healing, your character loses one Hit Point every second under any and all circumstances, basically guaranteeing a Game Over at some point. (For obvious reasons, this tends to be averted for the console releases.) Mook Makers are another signature trope of the series; they need to be destroyed if you don't want to be swamped. Interchangeable Antimatter Keys need to be collected to get where you're going. You can shoot food and magic-potion pickups, which is rarely as beneficial as picking them up, so it pays to be careful with your attacks. Finally, it was one of the first games to support four players at once, and this emphasis on social multiplayer was probably the biggest part of its success.

There have been several more entries in the franchise over the years:

  • Gauntlet II, released in 1986, added more monsters and hazards and allowed all players to pick any of the four classes. It was also the last to be released in arcades for a while; Gauntlet III (1991) was only for home systems, and Gauntlet IV was simply the first game's Sega Genesis port with a number bump due to some extra features.
  • Gauntlet Legends hit arcades in 1998, and home consoles in '99. It had an air of the Re Boot about it; the Hack and Slash nature was left unchanged, and there were still four players, but the levels were quite different, and had Weak, Strong and Turbo attacks available, the latter being a Limit Break that charged every time you used one of the other two attacks. It also added persistent characters: when you started (or joined) a game, you could enter your initials, and it would then load up the characters that that particular machine had stored for those initials. Therefore, you could play for a while, have your character level up a bit, but if you had to leave, you could then come back later and have your character the same level as it was before. (The console releases just used save cards.)
    • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy (2001, 2002) was largely an expansion pack, though it added many things: more classes and twice as many levels, as well as adding a world and final boss after the final boss of the original game. It got marginally worse reviews because almost nothing else was changed--PS 1 graphics on the Play Station 2, come on--but for a modern consumer looking to experience this franchise, it's one of your best bets.
  • Gauntlet: The Seven Sorrows was a console-exclusive 2005 release. Despite adding online support for Co-Op Multiplayer, it was not well-received due to its obvious Excuse Plot and shallow gameplay (which is saying something in a Hack and Slash title) and has become the series' Franchise Killer.

As to re-releases, Gauntlet I is available on X Box Live Arcade. There are also rumors of a Nintendo DS Gauntlet I port stuck in Development Hell somewhere. Its engine was repurposed for the DS tie-in game for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, a game that got poor reviews, which probably didn't help the DS port's fate.

The quote at the top of the page (or appropriate variants) has become something of an Internet meme, and several characters in fantasy-oriented webcomics have uttered it as a Shout-Out.

Tropes used in Gauntlet (1985 video game) include:
  • An Axe to Grind
  • Announcer Chatter: "Red Warrior needs food badly!"
  • Barbarian Hero: The Warrior practically is this trope.
  • BFG: In Legends and Dark Legacy, the Archer's fully charged Turbo Attack is actually CALLED "BFG".
  • Boss Only Level: Exaggerated in Dark Legacy; every boss has its own level.
  • Button Mashing: The point of the game.
    • On the PS2 ports, you can switch it to Robotron: 2084-style strafing controls, which really helps your thumbs.
  • Captain Obvious: Pick up food in the later games in the series and listen to what the characters say. The Wizard's is best: "Food is good!"
    • Honorable Mentions go to the Knight: "Sweet nutrients!" and the Jester: "Down the hatch!"
  • Class and Level System: Legends.
  • Colour Coded Multiplayer: From left to right, player colors were red, blue, yellow and green. This is very handy if the players chose the same class in Gauntlet II and later games.
  • Damage Over Time: In the original game, the players' HP decreased at a constant rate throughout the game. The only means to replenish HP? Food items in various levels, or putting more coins in the machine.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: One of the Nightmare Realm levels in Dark Legacy has several huge fans blocking your way. You can hit the "slow down" switch to make it past them.
  • Destroyable Items: It is possible to accidentally shoot your food. Blue potions can also be shot; in Gauntlet II, shooting poison caused monsters to slow down for a few seconds.
    • Legends and Dark Legacy had green posion-gas releasing barrels (which turned food poisonous and green as well as hurt players), as well as red explosive barrels (which hurt players if they got detonated as well as turn every item around them into ash). Barrels can be broken open as well. Potions could be shot as well in which they had a lesser effect of elemental magic than if a character used one from inventory.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Did you just use magic to kill Death? Or, in later games, steal his life and experience?
  • Distaff Counterpart: For the most part, each character type (Strength, Armor, Speed and Magic) in Dark Legacy has a character of each gender. The only man's club is the Strength type, with the male Warrior and Dwarf.
  • Drop in Drop Out Multiplayer
  • Dynamic Difficulty: As you gain points, monsters appear more quickly and less food becomes available. At 2.1 million points, you hit the first Cap where you get maximum food, and at 4.2 million points, the difficulty resets to as if you just started the game.
  • Endless Game: The arcade game and most of the console ports simply produced new dungeons indefinitely until the player gave up, whereas the NES port had an ending.
    • As did "Legends" and "Dark Legacy," when Skorne and Garm were defeated--though you could bring out other characters by starting over with them, especially the ones you unlocked.
  • Elemental Powers: These applied to the potions and the shot power-ups as well. Some of the final bosses had elemental weaknesses, so going to the store and stocking up on the right element for your shot power before the boss fight could give you more damaging attacks against that particular boss until the power-ups ran out.
    • Red: Fire
    • Blue: Lightning
    • Yellow: Light
    • Green: Acid
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Something Garm learns rather quickly in Legends and Dark Legacy.
  • Exploding Barrels: Red barrels were straight-up explosives in Dark Legacy, while in the Jester's levels, boxes of fireworks were the same way.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell
  • Forest Ranger: The Elf Ranger.
  • Franchise Killer: Seven Sorrows, which was released as an Obvious Beta with all of the touted new features conspicuously missing, as well most series staples from previous games, such as Bomb Potions and all power-ups.
    • What Could Have Been: The game had a very prestigious team at first, with the likes of John Romero and Josh Sawyer attached to it, and was aimed as an extremely ambitious franchise resurrection. Sadly, the original devs left and the project collapsed into abject mediocrity.
  • Friendly Fireproof: In Gauntlet, shooting other players initially carries no penalty, but after enough levels, they will start to stun other players. Woe unto you if your allies are griefers.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: The voice of Sumner in Legends and Dark Legacy is Doug Lawrence, the voice of many Nickelodeon characters, such as Filburt the Turtle and Plankton.
  • Hot Amazon: The Archer, depending upon the costume.
  • Hot Chick with a Sword: Thyra the Valkyrie
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Possibly one of the earliest versions of the trope, given the above iconic quote. It really was a way to keep players pumping quarters.
  • Lady of War: The Valkyrie. Different costumes in Legend and Dark Legacy can lead to Hot Amazon, though.
    • YMMV, but the Falconess might appeal to those with Furry Fandom (Valkyrie with wings and head of falcon).
  • Large Ham: The narrator. Would it really be Gauntlet without him?
  • Level Drain: Death in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy can not only drain health if it wears red robes, he can also (if he wears black robes) drain Character Levels.
    • If you're wearing a halo when you face Death, though, you can drain a level of health or experience from Death instead.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: The Wizard class has this as an Idle Animation in Dark Legacy.
  • Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition: The Nintendo 64 version of Gauntlet Legends came with a Warrior miniature.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: "[color] [class] is now a level [X] [title]!"
  • Made of Iron
  • Mana Meter: The Turbo Meter in Dark Legacy. It gives you a close area attack good when surrounded by enemies when yellow, and a deadly forward wave/straight-shot attack when red. Otherwise it gives a "laughable" one (such as the Jester dropping a crate of chickens).
  • Metal Slime: The Thief
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: Done in Legends.
  • Mook Maker
  • Obvious Beta: Seven Sorrows. All the touted new features were left on the cutting room floor.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The NES version had a three-headed dragon as the final boss. In the arcade version of Gauntlet II, the dragon is a rare enemy that guards various areas by shooting fire for a long distance (or rapidly cooking players that try getting too close).
    • Dark Legacy had one as the boss of the Warrior's region.
  • Pivotal Boss: Nine of the 11 bosses in Dark Legacy are like this.
  • Sarcasm Mode: The narrator in the first game tends to do this.
    • "That was a heroic effort."
    • In Dark Legacy the Jester has goes "I'm so happy for you" if in multiplayer you steal an item HE was trying to get. The other more straight-forward voices go "Thou art greedy" or "Pardon me, but that was Mine!"
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Death hiding in a barrel or chest; he usually didn't come out until the chest was unlocked or the barrel broken. Using a magic potion on Death while he was still in a chest turned him into an apple starting with "Legends."
    • One of the nasty surprises from the chest was what looked like a barrel-head with yellow-lensed glasses and a crown of TNT in "Dark Legacy": if you opened a chest and HE came out, RUN! You only had a few seconds before he exploded and took out the area around him.
  • Smash Mook: Grunts. As the manual puts it, "Grunts will run up to you and hit you with their clubs over and over."
  • The Smurfette Principle: Thyra the Valkyrie was the only woman in the original game and all sequels up until Legends, and it took the removal of the Elf to introduce a new female character in the form of the Archer (a female Elf). Dark Legacy added one more in the Sorceress.
    • This, mind, is not counting the numerous secret characters in those latter games.
  • Spiritual Successor/Serial Numbers Filed Off: Monolith Productions' Get Medieval.
  • Schrodinger's Player Character
  • Secret Character: Quite a few actually. Every character in the N64 and the Play Station 2 games had unlockable forms that were humanoid mythological creatures. They were all pretty much the same character, but (I think) they got better bonuses to their preferred stat (Anubis/Medusa gets better magic, Minotaur gets even higher strength, etc.). Furthermore, Sumner could be unlocked and acted as a super powerful Wizard. And even further furthermore, there are special codes you can out in as your name in the Play Station 2 version to play as alternate alternate characters. My favorites were the waitress (complete with throwing plates!) Sorceress, and the alien Wizard. In the end you've got a total of 25 playable characters, or at least 3 alternate skins for the central 8.
    • Also of note is the S&M Dwarf.
      • For the "Dark Legacy" unlockables you had to get all the coins under a time limit in certain levels, and if you did the unlockable characters had at least 50 points more in their stats than their "normal versions."
  • Squishy Wizard: In the original game, the Wizard takes full damage. Other characters have a reduction up to 40%. The Sorceress from Dark Legacy also counts as this.
  • Stripperiffic: Female characters in Legends and Dark Legacy, especially the secret character Falconess. The outfits get less revealing as the character levels up, but not by much; the Sorceress gains a single pant leg, for example.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: As Thyra the Valkyrie can attest.
  • Trial and Error Gameplay: NES version, room 94. The lower left exit eventually leads to a room with no exit, making the game Unwinnable. The lower right leads to a room where the only exit sends you all the way back to room 32. The correct exit is hidden in a block on the far left. If you take a wrong exit, you'll have to start over at room 79 and work your way back. There is no indication of which exit goes where.
  • True-Blue Femininity: Thyra the Valkyrie. The blue Valkyrie from Legends/Dark Legacy also counts as this.
  • Uberwald: The Forsaken Province and its hero the Sorceress.
  • Wake Up Call Boss: The Dragon in Legends. He's the first boss in the game and will beat down inexperienced players that easily blew through the first few levels.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Trope Namer, also overlaps with Hyperactive Metabolism. It would even be an Ear Worm, but doesn't qualify since it isn't a song.