The final part in the Gauntlet trilogy (on the Commodore 64 at least) was to be an isometric affair, owing more to Pacmania and 3D Ant Attack then the previous overhead offerings that were converted by Gremlin Graphics for U.S. Gold.
The game features some awesome graphics by both Martin Holland and Hadyn Dalton, including some incredible character selection screens. The scrolling is relatively smooth, and the game is pretty good overall.
The music is fantastic, and was created by Tim and Geoff Follin. The two tunes present are in the same league as the awesome Ghouls and Ghosts tunes that Tim produced a few years before.
The game was due for release in the Summer of 1991 after some well received reviews from the press. The game apparently suffered massive delays when the programmer fell ill and U.S. Gold couldn’t get the game off the development system and onto cassette tape.
Due to the delays, Gauntlet 3 was to be eventually released onto the Kixx label, but unfortunately this never happened either, as they could just not get the game onto tape format. Disk? Not a problem though. It strangely seemed to mirror the issues that were had with Murder!, another well known GTW title.
Martin Howarth however contacted GTW briefly many years ago and clarified that he did not suffer a breakdown of any sort (which had been originally the rumour for the game’s unreleased status). Martin confirmed that he was actually made redundant by Software Creations, and after that point, Software Creations had problems trying to master the game onto tape from Martin’s source code.
Martin didn’t move onto any other platforms after this, and sadly got left behind. After a break from programming, Martin got back into it, and now works at BarCrest. It is hoped that Martin will shed some more light about the development of the game and issues at the time in the near future.
There is also however the remarkable story that Gauntlet 3 did actually sneak out in a very short supply and only on disk. This was believed to be specially for those who were signed up to the U.S. Gold software club. A few of us luckily have a copy, including Mat Allen and the webmaster (though missing disk 2). A copy is also in the procession of someone which is still sealed, and copies still occasionally surface online for obscene amounts of money. It is likely through one of these copies that the game was cracked and leaked back in the day.
So thankfully you can all still play it, though its not friendly with all emulators, so be warned. The original disk images have also been added to the download for posterity, thanks to Jazzcat. Additionally if you want to see the game ending, then check it out at C64 endings.
A lovely finale that you can all thankfully play, but one which you will struggle to find a fully packaged release.
Contributions: Martin Holland, Martin Howarth, Ian Osbourne, Mat Allen, Quapil, Jazzcat, Andrew Fisher, Ross Sillifant, Correcthor
Martin Howarth speaks about work on Gauntlet 3…
“My son was looking on your web site early and commented on your reply, about me becoming ill this being the reason Gauntlet was never finished.
The truth being I was made redundant from Software Creations around about 94, Never moved over to the other platforms so got left behind. They then found problems Transferring the game to tape.
With regards to your questions, It was always fun working on any of my games. also spent a lot of time messing. Ask Haydyn what he did to my arm, if he can remember I still have the scar. It was always fun back then but we got the work done.
Its good to look back, I contacted Martin Holland through Friends Reunited, and was very surprised to here he’d pass away, to be honest I read your site twice. Its good to see people respected his work so much, I worked with him for about 3-4 years and found him to be a very pleasant person to work with.
What Martin could do with the C64 was amazing”
- 10/03/20 – Tidied up piece due to some terrible spelling issues and just poorly written when originally done.
- 29/12/16 – Scan added thanks to Ross Sillifant
The inlay for Kixx’s Multimixx 4 (released in early 1992, containing the first two Gauntlets plus the Deeper Dungeons addon) lists Gauntlet 3 as being available for the C64, despite the intended release having fallen through many months earlier. An error, or does it imply that they hadn’t given up on giving it a full release? Also, worth noting that both Spectrum and Amstrad versions were 128K only, which emphasises what an effort squeezing it into 64k was for cassette or disk.
Hi Martin – I think U.S. Gold were still hopeful of releasing the game at least on the Kixx label, but never got round the mastering issues I believe. Either that or it was an error like you suggest – by the point of the Multimixx 4 release, it was quite some time after the full release, so I’d imagine they’d have been focusing on a budget launch for it.
The programmer didn’t fell ill, I recently read a Retrogamers article that said he quit (his job) and no one at the company was able to finalize the thing (which was apparently common in the old days).
Might want to check/update your sources better.
Erm … We did, and with Martin directly. Further in the write up it states:
“Martin Howarth however contacted GTW briefly many years ago and clarified that he did not suffer a breakdown of any sort (which had been originally the rumour for the game’s unreleased status). Martin confirmed that he was actually made redundant by Software Creations, and after that point, Software Creations had problems trying to master the game onto tape from Martin’s source code.”
Some people might need to check/update their reading skills better ;)
I think Gauntlet 3 would have been a nightmare to have put on to tape (and for the gamer) as a previous or next level loads individually. During play (if I recall correctly) you could enter or leave a same level. If that was a tape multiload, you would have to rewind or fast forward the tape to a specific counter position – which could be quite confusing for the gamer. Unlike the two Gauntlet games, each level was progressive based.
Honestly if a few typos causes you this much of a problems, the issue is with you not Frank.
There are many mistakes in this text. Whoever wrote it, must not know the first thing about writing. First of all, the word ‘awesome’ is used four times near the beginning, although there are plenty of adjectives that could have been used.
Another sign of bad writing is not knowing how to spell english correctly, as the word ‘recieve’ shows. The correct spelling is: ‘receive’.
I won’t subject myself to reading this further, for life is too short.
My apologies for the issues with the text, which have now been fixed with thanks and credit. Unfortunately quite a few articles were originally written when I was very young, and when my writing was admittedly atrocious at times. Looking at this write up, it seems I was overexcited and actually praise up the game a bit too much in hindsight. When I spot some of my older pieces, I often cringe and will quickly tidy up – and will continue to do so over time.
Even today I still often spell “receive” incorrectly (even did it just now!) and get my i’s and e’s mixed up in several words, but luckily the red error highlights I get in the editor catch most of them for me.
Completely agree though – life is too short.
Does anyone knows if the box arts are different between C64 and Amiga or Sinclair? Were there any changes made on the front or back cover?
No, box is the same as the Amiga version, just with a C64/128 sticker on it.
Might be intresting to note that while reading Commodore Format issues 24, I saw a type-in cheat for Gauntlet 3..
Yes, done against the exact original that I know own! Andy Roberts lent the game to Waz Pilkington, and later sold it to me.
I had a copy of this on disk that I sold on Ebay for over £900 4 years ago. Picked it up for 50p from a clearance sale at BCA where I worked (which was the umbrella company for The Home Computer Club) – it was obviously an evaluation copy.
Hi Darren, thanks for sharing! And well done on the £899.50 profit! ;)
It’s good to confirm more about where the game ended up exactly. Shame they didn’t have a similar deal for Murder! :)
Does anyone knows how the discs look´s like? I cannot find a picture yet.
My copy is packed away somewhere, so not sure if anyone else is able to help? Otherwise i’ll try and take a picture soon. I’ve only got the first disk, the second disk was missing unfortunately. It’s basically black with no label, and the words/company are printed onto the disk with silver/white lettering from what I recall.
I saw a stand full of Gauntlet 3 for the c64 at a computer show in London in the early 90’s. I didn’t pay enough attention whether they were tape or disk. They weren’t many people buying though.
Why the publishers cannot release games on one format only? Why do they always need to release games on tapes and disks?
Back then, although disks were faster (well, with a Fastload on the C64) – the drives were very expensive to purchase (almost as much, if not more than a C64 itself). Tapes were a cheap option to use, and took off in a big way in the UK and certain countries as a result. Only those with a bit of money had disk drives – but enough to warrant releasing on both formats. Additionally – some games do just not work on tape, hence having disk only releases for titles like Project Firestart.
The key thing here is distribution costs. I don’t know what ratio of games on disks sold compared to games on tape but I would imagine it was probably something broadly like 90-10 or perhaps even 95-5 – if you’re only sending out 5% of games on disk then you’ve got an awful lot of empty space to load something else into – if you’re not putting out the tapes as well it was probably economically unviable to sell the game.
Of course, they could’ve sold a limited edition solely on disc direct from their own distributor but that’s another matter entirely…!
I wonder how the profit margins compared for tape versus disc? Disc games cost a bit more, but sometimes was multiple discs versus one tape. And I guess the bigger boxes of disc games cost slightly more to distribute and produce? The US market was pretty much disc-only from very early on I believe. Is it simply that UK gamers were poorer or stingier than their American cousins at the time?
Still, I suspect that in 1988 this issue would have just meant a disc-only release, perhaps with an extra animation or editor cobbled together as justification, but by 1991 US Gold were looking eslewhere and didn’t deem it worth the effort.
I have absolutely no idea whatsoever how much a floppy would’ve been to produce over a tape, but you’re absolutely right, multiple diskettes and bigger packaging would’ve pushed that cost up across the board.
The profit margain probably would’ve been very similar I would suggest, or perhaps even slimmer – single or double disk games were only ever £5 more, weren’t they? The more expansive games were £20 or so at which point you were getting more value from the Amiga versions!
I think if you owned a disc drive in the UK in the C64 era you were interested in RPGs and sprawling adventures. As such I would struggle to imagine that a disc only Gauntlet 3 would’ve been a worthwhile release – it probably wouldn’t have sold to that market, nor was it ever going to be a big enough game to sell 1541s on its own merits.
Just another question for someone to answer in a book or documentary :)