From memory, Gauntlet II was just more of the same in regards to how it plays when compared to its predecessor. However, having now played both of the games in their original arcade versions, I can say that they aren’t exactly the same and that this one improves over the first one.
The level design in Gauntlet II is fantastic and a lot more maze-like than the original. Also, there is more visual flair in the designs with stunningly vibrant colors, as well as new kinds of walls and floor tiles. Playing this just after the first game really shows you how much this one has stepped forward in its overall look and style.
The game also seems to have more diverse groups of enemies to swarm you. Everything is almost the same regarding enemy types but they seem to be mixed up better. Instead of levels that are primarily ghosts, you now have ghosts, demons and trolls all coming at you from multiple spots in pretty close quarters.
If anything, this one was definitely a quarter thief.
I think the addition I liked most was the dragons. Every half dozen levels or so, you will encounter a pretty large, fire spitting dragon. They do massive damage but they also add a whole new level of coolness to the proceedings.
Gauntlet II is everything the original game was and then some. It’s a shit ton of fun and thankfully, I don’t have to dump actual quarters in it anymore.
Pairs well with: the original Gauntlet and then the later sequels.
Few games made me go broke faster than the arcade version of Gauntlet. That being said, I still loved the absolute shit out of it at an age when losing a quarter felt like losing twenty bucks.
When I eventually got the version that was ported to the original Nintendo, I was ecstatic because I would no longer have to lose boatloads of quarters or tokens. Granted, that version of the game wasn’t as epic and grandiose as its arcade counterpart.
What’s great about the arcade version is it’s graphics and sounds. Also, it plays so fluidly where I always found the NES port to be buggy and laggy.
Sure, you get severely overwhelmed in all versions of this game but that’s sort of the appeal. There’s just something cool about being absolutely swarmed by a ghost army and then having to run for your f’n life every time the Grim Reaper or multiple Grim Reapers appear onscreen.
I guess I had always assumed that eventually you would reach the end of this game. However, I played this for two hours straight and after a while, the levels, despite their number, start to repeat.
This is an endless game. I’m sure it was designed that way to deliberately squeeze as much change out of ’80s kids as humanly possible but that doesn’t make me mad, it makes me kind of respect the game’s developers.
Because, really, this isn’t even a game you play to beat, it’s a game you play to see how long you can hang.
Pairs well with: Gauntlet II