Talking Gauntlet DS with Eidos

How the return to the dungeon will be better this time

Talking Gauntlet DS with Eidos
| Gauntlet

When it comes to films, certain actors – Keanu Reeves, Michael Caine, Lucy Liu – are known for their Teflon qualities ('the non-stick stars who can survive any panning', according to Joe Queenan in this week's Guardian).

And there's a similar thing with games, too. Think back to all those bad Star Wars games released before Lego Star Wars lightjumped into our lives, or the endless reheats of Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Bubble Bobble, to pick three not-so-obvious candidates.

Indeed, we'd also lump the original multiplayer dungeon crawler Gauntlet into the mix. Brilliant as a shared seaside 2D arcade experience, the updated, 3D console versions attempted since haven't managed to recreate the magic. But we can still hope.

So how is Eidos' DS-bound remake panning out?

Genuinely intrigued, we bounced some questions over to assistant producer George Wright (pictured) to find out.

Pocket Gamer: Why do you think this version of Gauntlet is going to be more successful than previous attempts and why is it only being made for DS?

George Wright: The DS just seemed to be the right fit for this game, especially in terms of the two screens. When trying to fight your way through a horde of creatures, it's great to be able to position the camera to see what's coming up using the top screen. The game is also very 'pick-up-and-play' which suits a handheld console.

The original was simple to play so how do you resist the temptation to overcomplicate it?

The gameplay is based on the first two iterations of Gauntlet, rather than the later versions which had a more role-playing style. We kept the 'coin swallowing' franticness of the earlier versions but have also taken the best bits from the later versions, such as levelling up.

Will there be a faithful version of the old arcade game included or is it an all-new affair?

There was no space for the old game. Gauntlet on the DS has full 3D on both screens and we've packed the game card full of features and that left no room for anything else.

Just to confirm it, can we expect the game to include the famous voiceover phrases?

Of course! What would Gauntlet be without "Red warrior shot the food" or "Green elf needs food, badly"?

Phew. How have you attempted to make it a good single-player as well as a good multiplayer game?

The levelling up of stats, as well as fantastic level design, make this a single-player experience that's second to none. The character you build up in the single-player mode can also be used in multiplayer.

Sound promising. Will we be able to play all the multiplayer modes locally and via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection?

Yes. The game supports three multiplayer modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Treasure Hoard (our version of Capture the Flag). All can be played locally or over wi-fi with two to four players. Wi-fi has an added feature: Voiceover IP for both Friends and Rivals, which gives you the opportunity to yell at your companion for shooting the food.

Do you think the game can appeal to new fans or is this purely one for the hardcore?

Those people who know and love the original Gauntlet will be right at home here. There's a sense of familiarity but also a rush of the exciting and new. At the same time, this is Gauntlet. It's the perfect pick-up-and-play coin-op game, so even people who've never encountered it before will be captivated.

Do you include any touchscreen controls?

There are limited touchscreen controls for assigning special moves to DS buttons. We found the game is best played using the directional pad and buttons due to the frenetic pace of the action.

Do you think the co-operative nature of the game will be diluted as players can now explore dungeons independently from each other, rather than everyone being stuck on the same screen?

I wouldn't say so. Although the players can go their separate ways they'll usually be racing to pick up the same gold or food. And there are areas in this game where it definitely is worth playing together in order to survive.

Finally, how did you manage to get the game rights from Midway?

We asked. Nicely.

Our thanks to George for his time. We'll find out how well Eidos and developer Backbone have done when Gauntlet is released later this year.