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Gauntlet wasn’t everyone’s favourite game.  It wasn’t many people’s favourite game.

Coin-operated machines these days are more likely to carry chocolate or beverages, and the few that offer entertainment usually do so with an “over 18′s only” sticker and a promise of real-life riches.  True, small computer systems with beer-stained touch-screens are popping up in public houses all over the country but it’s a far-cry from the dedicated arcade boxes we used to pump our hard-earned pocket money into.  When we think of swords and sorcery we’re much more likely to imagine a player sitting at their home computer, grinding their teeth as they watch simulated dice-rolls while battling orcs and goblins, hoping for that rare item to drop.

Gauntlet probably has more in common with most shooters than your average RPG, but that doesn’t matter.  It was my first introduction to a concept that later became a staple part of most computer games these days.  The arcade game was tough and demanded tens of pounds to be pumped into it to stand even the remotest chance of a game lasting five minutes, but the Atari ST conversion of the sequel was never ending.

Playing a single player game was pointless, but upon plugging a control pad or two into the ST you could have three players (with one relegated to the keyboard).  We soon discovered that as long as one player stayed alive, dead allies could respawn.  This was a game-changing mechanic that despite most likely being introduced accidentally by a clumsy home computer conversion, meant that Gauntlet 2 was the most obvious choice for lengthy sessions of cooperative gameplay.  The first truly easy game I’d ever played, but with enough content to keep things interesting.

This blog isn’t about Gauntlet.  I picked that particular game as almost any thought back towards my gaming youth would include memories of shooting food, playing “tag” and shouting at team-mates to move the screen so that I can teleport to another transporter.  This blog is about the golden age of videogames and how echoes of that era are starting to be heard again now that a massive wealth of opportunities have opened for independent developers.

Gauntlet wasn’t my favourite game either.  I doubt it was ever supposed to be.

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