The original Gauntlet lacked a cohesive story. The player chose a character to represent themselves, then attempted to survive as long as possible.
Players must navigate a labyrinth from a top-down, 3rd person view while their character's health slowly dwindled away. The goal is to find the exit for each room, and to survive for as long possible while doing so. Item collection is a must, both for survival and scoring. The game only had a joystick and two buttons, "Fire" and "Magic". Accessing Treasure Rooms gave a chance for a bonus and collecting extra power potions.
The four iconic characters made their debut here.
Starting the trend for future installments, monsters come in three levels of strength and are spawned by monster Generators. Destroying these generators is a primary goal of the game, and essential for stopping the flood of monsters.
Gauntlet went through many updates even in the arcades. Various consoles also received exclusive special editions.
The Deeper Dungeons was an expansion pack with an additional 512 levels, only available for the personal computers of the time.
The Nintendo version of Gauntlet arrives with an actual plot and ending. The core gameplay hasn't changed, but the various floors have been rebuilt.
The Mega Drive/Genesis version added several new modes on top of the standard arcade mode.