“Strength and honour!”
Gladiator, released by Taito, was a unique side scrolling beat em’ up. Set in the dungeons and halls of castles long ago, your task is slay a plethora of enemy combatants. Armed with your trusty sword and shield, you must take full advantage of training in the arena to accomplish your goal.
Swinging high and low to attack opponents, armour breaks and splinters leaving exposed flesh ready for puncture, however be aware, your foe is just as skilled in armed combat and can easily strip you bare of your precious metal and leave you vulnerable to attack. Raising or lowering your shield is a priority for defence which after a time becomes damaged as the hits by varying weapons from the multitude of warriors increases.
New weapons and shields are available for collection along the way as indeed are many bonuses. Spears, a myriad of flying creatures, all come hurtling at you with death in mind. Be quick or be dead is the onus or your corps will be left for pickings from the creatures above.
As progress is maintained, eventually a skilled warrior is confronted at the end of each floor of the castle, guarding and defending your gateway to further encounters. Using all your talent given to you by your mentors, ducking, blocking, hacking and attacking, be quick to expose the flesh as looking for a weak spot becomes paramount in your opponent as these guardians are the elite and are out to prove it.
A rare classic which it seems only enthusiasts remember and love, which is indeed unfortunate as this experience is a fantastic offering by Taito.
Simple gameplay, great sound and atmosphere, the whole game flows perfectly and rightly deserves a place in the memory of a golden age of gaming.
Review by Rob Joy.