Every Sunday, I get retro. I boot up some emulators (or even the real thing if time permits) and replay some of the more obscure games of yesteryear.
Shackled (1986, Data East)
Shackled can be considered a dumbed-down version of Gauntlet; it’s the same viewpoint, is a multiplayer (although only two players compared to Gauntlet’s four), and requires you to shoot hordes of monsters as you hunt for the exit. The notable difference is that you can increase your offensive capabilities by rescuing prisoners, who then fire projectiles with you. These prisoners also give you different weapons; fire bombs, orbs, bouncing bullets, or multiple Shuriken.
I bet that this game sounded awesome on paper back in ’86; take the format of a really popular game but include extra weaponry. Extra weaponry always makes things better, right? Well it does, but not for the player. About level 8, there are some bad-ass ninjas that chuck some kind of dynamite/light sabre weapon that destroys health real quickly. Another infuriating thing is that the prisoners follow your joystick presses, not your character. This means that the little guys get trapped behind walls regularly, forcing you to abandon them or go back and get them.
Verdict = Not as good as Gauntlet, and I hate Gauntlet.
Play time = 10 minutes