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doubledown's Gauntlet Edition - VVG Experience Controller - Interest Check

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Hello friends, I've got a new project that I'm going to be working on and I wanted to get the word out.


I am a big fan of the arcade game Gauntlet:




...and who wouldn't be, its big, its beautiful, and its fun for up to 4 players!  Hands down, the single best port of this arcade classic is Tengen's Gauntlet IV for the SEGA Genesis/MegaDrive:




With a title like Gauntlet IV, one would assume that this is a sequel of some sort, which could never be as good as the original, but that's where you're wrong.  Gauntlet IV has 4 modes of play, 1 being a pixel-perfect port of the arcade classic (including 4-player support), then a few other variants with some cool RPG and battle elements.  As I recently picked up a MIB complete copy of this game (replacing my previous cartridge only version), I started playing it again, and realized that a Genesis control pad just doesn't do it justice.  So with my new found skills at creating arcade-like controllers I had the idea of creating a proper joystick controller to further my enjoyment of this game.  


After a bit of research regarding the original controls hardware used in the arcade cabinets, I realized that the linchpin to this endeavor would be to source an original Atari logo'ed ball-knob, 8-way leafswitch joystick, like this one (most of these pics "borrowed" from the internet):






So for a little while now I've been on the hunt for one of these little beauties on ebay and over at the Arcade Forums.  There were a few variants of this general/similar style of stick by Atari, including analog/digital, leafswitch/microswitch, and 4-way/8-way, but I need a very specific model, only used in a handful of Atari arcade games.  Most of those on ebay are of the the wrong type (in 1 way or another), beat up pretty bad, or just really high priced.  But last night, I was finally able to strike a deal for exactly what I was looking for, the only caveat being, was that the seller was selling a set of (4) of these controllers, not the "single one" that I needed.  But we worked out a "decent" per-stick price for the overall package, so now I am patiently waiting for my (4) slightly used Atari logo'ed ball-knob, 8-way leafswitch joysticks.  


I will basically have 3 options of what to do with the extra 3 joysticks:

1) resell the unneeded 3 joysticks as arcade replacement parts

2) create and keep 4 Gauntlet Edition - VVG Experience Controllers

3) create 4, and sell 2 or 3 Gauntlet Edition - VVG Experience Controllers


If I had 3 local friends that played video games with any regularity/proficiency, I would consider option 2, but that's not the case for me unfortunately (my friends suck).  If there is interest from anybody here for such a creation (besides me obviously), some combination of options 3 & 1 are possible.  If no one has any interest, then option 1 is my best bet.  


With all that being said, this will basically end up being built as a SEGA Genesis/MegaDrive 3-button arcade stick, with the arcade-correct Gauntlet joystick and pushbuttons.  So why would I ever post this here, for this reason:




Team Pixelboy's published, MSX conversion of Gauntlet for the ColecoVision, so it technically falls into the ColecoVision realm!  Fortunately this port doesn't require the keypad, and with a little bit of wiring trickery by me, I will be able to make what will be a 3-button SEGA Genesis/MegaDrive controller, also work as a 2-button ColecoVision controller for this fine port.  


And obviously while this controller will be able to be used for any system and/or game that can make use of a SEGA Genesis/MegaDrive 3-button controller, I'm touting that this will be the ultimate controller for the following Gauntlet-esque games:


Dandy - the original that started it all as an Atari Program Exchange game, which inspired the Gauntlet arcade franchise:

available on: Atari 8-Bit / Commodore 64 / Amstrad CPC




Dark Chambers - Atari's "commercial" release of Dandy:

available on: Atari 2600 / 8-Bit / 7800




Gauntlet - home port:

available on: Amstrad CPC / Atari ST / Commodore 64 / SEGA Master System / ColecoVision




Gauntlet II - home port:

available on: Amstrad CPC / Atari ST / Commodore 64




Gauntlet III - home game:

available on: Amstrad CPC / Atari ST / Commodore 64


Gauntlet IV - home port/game

available on: SEGA Genesis/MegaDrive (as noted above)


Additionally I believe that it may be possible to to allow this controller to also work with the Nintendo NES ports of Gauntlet and Gauntlet II as well (in addition to all NES games), more info on this to come.


So while right now I have no fabulous pictures of a completed example to show off, I'm just looking to see if there is any interest, from anybody here for such a controller.  No matter what anybody else thinks/feels regarding this project, I will be building 1 for myself.  The main reason I bring this up here, is mainly due to the fact that I had to purchase 4 of the Atari joysticks, to get the 1 that I needed/wanted.  As they are fairly expensive and hard to come by, I would hate to re-sell all 3 joysticks, then have one or more people speak up asking to buy this controller (that I wouldn't be able to build).  On the other hand if there is no interest here at all for such a thing, I would probably list the joysticks for sale sooner-than-later to recoup their cost.  


At this point I don't have a firm selling price, or time-frame.  I can only estimate that the finished Gauntlet Edition - VVG Experience Contollers would sell for somewhere in the $300-$400 range, and could be ready as soon as late January, or after.  So again, I don't need any sort of "firm commitment" or "down-payment" money at this time (and obviously final decision to purchase would be after the 1st one is built so that you could see what it will be like), I'm just checking to see if knowing all of this info, if there is any interest.  As I deal with ColecoVision hardware more than anything else, and there is a ColecoVision port of Gauntlet, I thought I would offer the "idea" of these here first before checking Sega/Atari collectors for their interest.  


Last note, due to the limited availability of the vintage Atari Joysticks, I can't say that any more than these potential 4 could/would ever be made.  If a group of buyers "speak" up with interest in this project, and all agreed they would like to see these limited to only 4 total examples ever built, I'd be fine with that too.  So just a little food for thought, and I look forward to any thought/comments/feedback.  Thanks.

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3 hours ago, Serguei2 said:

Gauntlet III was not released on C64. A prototype does exist.

Wikipedia lies again...thanks for the info

2 hours ago, Yurkie said:

Awesome looking controller Mike!

It will be.  Ordered the enclosure today and then ill have to start looking at the artwork for it soon after i finish up a few other controllers.

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Thanks for the interest, and like I said no rush.  Im hoping to have the initial one finished by mid to late January, but could certainly hold onto any others for later.  I should receive the sticks late this upcoming week, and Ill have the enclosure sometime this upcoming week as well.  The big question is do I theme the CPO artwork with all 4 characters like the the arcade cabinets, or make 4 different units, 1 for each warrior.  Which would mean that only I would have Thor...and someone would get stuck with the Elf...decisions, decisions, decisions.

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First update...I received the "potential" Gauntlet enclosure a couple of days ago, and the joysticks today.  The joysticks desperately need cleaning and re-lubricating, but they should rebuild beautifully!  I took the bottom half of one apart thus far (can't finish it until I grab my roll pin punches from the house) and the "wear items" don't appear worn or bad at all.  One of the sticks has some wear/chafing on the shaft below the knob, but there are NOS replacements available fortunately.  I'll get them all torn down and cleaned up to determine what items need to be replaced.  Hopefully its just the 1 shaft, but we'll see.  

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So I grabbed my roll pin punch set and headed up to work today to finish tearing apart the Atari Gauntlet joysticks.  


On the right is the "before", and the cleaned and re-lubed stick is on the left.  What you can't "see" in the pics is how sticky/rough the joysticks felt as I received them because of the old lubrication and years of dust:



Here's all 4 little ladies ready for the dance:


And here is the side-by-side size comparison between the vintage 80s Atari josyticks, and modern-day Japanese/Korean candy cabinet joysticks.  This is the reason these won't fit into any of the enclosures that I've used thus far:


It might sound weird, but there are very distinctive and unique "feels" to handling and manipulating specific vintage arcade controls, which really enhance the experience, and can bring back memories for those familiar with them.  I am extremely happy I was able to source and rebuild these original joysticks for this project.  It will make these Gauntlet controllers that much more authentic and special!

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