Thursday, 27 June 2019

Gaming Flashbacks #3

Ask ten different retroheads what their favourite Atari arcade game is and you will be guaranteed two things. Firstly, that everyone will have an answer, but also that you'll probably get ten different answers. They had so many classics, from the early years with addictive coin-guzzlers like Breakout, Asteroids and Centipede, up to what in my opinion was their heyday in mid-to-late 80's with innovative titles such as Paperboy, Marble Madness, STUN Runner, and the marvellous Escape From the Planet of the Robot Monsters, but my vote would usually go to Gauntlet.

It was originally released way back in 1985 and, over the intervening years, I've played just about every version of it to have seen release. The first version I played, though, and still probably the one I've spent the most time with, was the stonking conversion the Speccy received. Despite being a pesky multi-load game it was indeed a fine version of what was already considered a classic. It offered simultaneous two-player action - an option that was duly pursued enthusiastically by myself and friends. As wonderful as the Spectrum was, though, it did sometimes struggle as a result of its meagre 'spectrum' of colours (chortle!), and as a result, the colours of many of the sprites and backgrounds are different to the arcade original. This kind of thing was standard with conversions on the 8-bit micros, naturally, and some enemies such as the ghosts and demons were the correct colours anyway, but one that wasn't was the 'grunts' which were originally brown, but here they were... pink!

Or 'magenta', to use the correct Speccy parlance. It was a reasonable compromise though, and has gone on to be as fondly remembered as the game itself. Well, by me anyway, for I spent so much time playing Gauntlet (and its sequel) on my +3 that I still find it weird, unnatural even, to play another version that doesn't have magenta grunts, even now! From time spent in the arcades in my late teens up to the many hours I spent playing Gauntlet IV on my MegaDrive, it always seems like something is a bit off if there aren't magenta grunts running around.

Surely I can't be the only one to have encountered this strange affliction with a well known game? Let's hear from a few of you, if indeed there is anyone left who still visits here! Is there a difference or quirk of some sort in one version of a game that you miss when playing a different version?


  1. Gauntlet II was and still is my favourite Spectrum game (two players on one keyboard!) - it was YEARS until I played the regular arcade version, and the brightness and brashness of it all just didn't seem "right" compared to the dark dungeons and munchy ogre sounds I'd been used to all that time.

    Same goes for Alien 3 - the Mega Drive version might be the technically superior one, but the Master System version has the aliens exploding into a load of glowing blobs that bounce all over the place, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

    1. Haha, yeah, that munching sound is great :P I know what you mean regarding Alien 3, it's the same for me with Shinobi - I played the crap out of that on my MS and other versions are never as good :)