Amstrad Action1st September 1986
Published in Amstrad Action #12
You just can't seem to match Mastertronic's production of high quality, regular and cheap games at the moment. This one's a version of the arcade game Gauntlet and stands out because of the option of a two player game in which the participants have to actively co-operate to get anywhere in the game.
As a one player game this is a fairly straightforward arcade adventure in which you rush around lots of locations picking up as many objects as possible and fighting hordes of creatures. However, when you play with two players it becomes a unique exercise in co-operation and dual action that you won't find in any other Amstrad game. So if you've got a friend who you'd like to get closer to then read on.
The game revolves around two characters, Agravain Undead and Storm, who are searching the castle of Una Cum for Storm's wife. In the one player game you control Agravain and have to complete the task on your own, while in the two player game Storm is also thrown into the action.
The castle is composed of rooms connected by doorways, the rooms and everything in them being viewed from above so that you only see the head and shoulders of each character. Storm's wife is in Una Cum's laboratory, and to get inside you'll need to collect three snake brooches hidden in the maze of castle rooms.
As you enter each room a description of it scrolls across the top of the screen which may or may not prove useful. More helpful are messages that appear informing you of events and the status of the characters. Each room usually contains a number of features such as walls or other static objects. Some of these can be picked up, others shot and some examined.
In every room there are generators that produce creatures varying from armed guards to amoeba-like fungi. These can be shot, and when they come into contact with you they drain energy. The generators can also be destroyed, stopping them from producing creatures, but they reappear if you re-enter a room. These are the only other things that move but they are a serious threat because the generators can spew them out at great speed to create a seething mass of monsters.
Objects that can be picked up include scrolls, amulets, masks and cabbalas. Masks will destroy all the generators in a room, but scrolls and amulets will just destroy all the monsters. Cabbalas will remove or create traps, and you only find out which by trial and error. Other helpful objects are food and restorative fluid that replenish energy, and armour that protects you against the creatures.
If you are playing the two player game then when one player exits the room the other player has to follow through the same door. This, combined with the difficulty of the game, makes co-operation essential - if players try to compete against each other then disaster is certain.
The graphics are quite nicely done although overlaid sections of scenery can make it difficult to see what's going on at times. The action is very hectic and you won't have much time to stop and think in either player mode. The use of objects and traps adds an interesting element to the gameplay that make this more than just a mapping task. In one player mode it's just a good, tough arcade adventure, but in two player mode it's unique and will provide many hours of enjoyment.
I am a real sucker for two player games, if only because genuine two player action is so rare, and most games arc very anti social. This one really succeeds because to get anywhere the two players have to co operate rather than compete for a change.
P. Plenty of rooms to explore.
P. Colourful graphics viewed from an interesting overhead position.
P. A very tough one player challenge.
P. Unique two player game requiring co-operation.
P. Nice features like traps, masks and scrolls.
N. Keyboard control only, which is rather awkward at times.
N. Odds can be overwhelming.
First Day Target Score
One Snake Brooch
Green Screen View
It didn't look too good in colour, but this game's just ugly in green. Still plays fine though.