Family Fun

Freya was in the mood to play video games this weekend. It started off with a bit of bowling, tennis and Mario Kart on the Wii. She soon got tired of playing them, and asked if I had anything else. I didn’t think I did have much that was suitable for a five year old, but I found the classic hack and slash (and one of my favourite childhood games). Gauntlet. lurking in a pile of Playstation 2 games. She loved it, and we played for an hour or so, working our way through the never-ending hordes of ghosts, grunts, demons and the like.

After a few sessions of Gauntlet, Freya decided she wanted to try out something else. Jo and I had been talking about introducing her to the world of Mario, so we bought out Paper Mario on the Wii. Not only is Paper Mario typical of the Mario series, with secret areas abound and devilishly wonderful level design, but Mario can flip from a 2D to 3D. Sadly my writing skills are not finely honed enough to comprehensively explain what this does to the game, but it brings a fantastic dimension to the game play, and is a far cry from Gauntlet or Dora that Freya has been playing of late.

Jo, Freya and I played Paper Mario all Sunday afternoon, taking it in turns and helping each other get through the levels. Freya sometimes lacked the self confidence to attempt a few parts of the levels, but generally she picked up the idea and method of control very well. She even managed to keep up her interest through the (way too long) conversations that drove the game forward. And she gave the big boss on the first level the coup de grĂ¢ce.

Going back to Gauntlet, I used to write a gaming blog. I found this entry about the very version that Freya and I have enjoyed playing:

Sunday, January 16. 2005

Re-living Gauntlet

Gauntlet has been in my top-ten arcade games for as long as I remember. It was with a great deal of pleasure and
anticipation, then, that I went out and bought Midway Arcade Treasures on the PS2. Having played it for 2 evenings
solid, two-player mode, I now realise that Gauntlet is less a game, and more a form of entertainment.

There is, like many other games of its time, no real objective, and no end. The difference with this and its peers is that
there is unlimited life, as long as you had the money to buy extra health. Nearly all the other classics had a “10p for
three lives” premise, which meant that you had to be good to progress and get the high-score. It was not important to be
good at Gauntlet : being rich was good enough.

The console incarnation allows you to add extra health by a simple click of a button, which, for most people, is far too
tempting to ignore.

And so, because of the relative simplicity of the game, after the initial retro-rush, I was left suitably unimpressed. There
was not enough development in the game to warrant my interest. 100 levels was more than enough (and I only played
this much because I was unaware there was no end).

I still have a fondness for Gauntlet, and will still feature high on my list as an arcade-game. I don’t think I’ll be playing the
console version again (until I get Gauntlet 2 on Midway Arcade Treasures vol.2).