Publisher: Domark
Machine: Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Crash #24


Beat 'em up's look like they're here to stay. Domark have just released one by the name of Gladiator. No prizes for guessing the what the scenario for this one is...

As a slave, Marcus was none too happy. Tired with a life of toil among the Roman fields, Marcus decides to try and battle for his freedom among the gladiators in the stadia of Rome. To buy his freedom, Marcus must win 180 times 180 eagles, a very high price indeed.

To get so much money you'll have to vanquish up to seventeen fighters and then take part in a gambling session, betting on the outcome of a two fighter fight. As you win fights, you are matched against more skillful opponents who come into the arena with better weapons. Both Marcus and his opponents are doesn't tell you what they are. Arming Marcus is a process of trial and error to begin with and deciding which weapon is best plays quite an important part in the game. Marcus can use a weapon in each hand as well a set of wrist knives.


After choosing the weapons, the gladiators move the to arena, where the action is viewed by the player from a spectator's eye view on the edge of the arena. The arena is three dimensional: the gladiators can move in and out of the screen as well as left and right. In the background you can see the other side of the arena, and the milling crowds shouting slogans to the fighters.

Once the fight starts, moves are made using a combination of fire button and directions. Three sets of moves are available: one using the directions only, another using the direction keys or joystick after fire has been pressed once and the third set is accessed after fire has been pressed twice.

At least fifteen opponents have to be beaten in the arena before you get to the betting screen. Once you get to the bookies the points accumulated can be gambled, using the 1 key as up and Q as down to select the amount to be gambled. Press fire and then, using the same keys, you decide who to gamble on. If you win, then you double your money. Lose and the stake money becomes the bookie's. If all your money is lost then Marcus gets thrown back into the arena. Get 32,400 eagles and a Marcus gets his coveted Certificate of Freedom.


Control keys: Player One: 1 to 5 up screen, 0 to T down, A, D, G left, S, F right, C, Z, X, C, V fire. Player Two 6 to 0 up screen, Y to P down, J, L left, H, K ENTER right, B, N, M, S, B fire.
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: unresponsive, and complicated
Use of colour: monochromatic, to avoid attribute clash Graphics: adequate backdrops
Sound: a bit of white noise to indicate a hit
Skill levels: one, gets harder
Screens: five

Comment 1

'I was initially impressed when I clapped eyes on this program - the big figures fighting away with one another looked really good. It was only when I got down to playing it than I started to see the niggly glitches in the graphics- sometimes the men start climbing up the wall. The thumb which comes out when a player is defeated is pretty rotten - it's so-o-o-o slow and has about three frames of animation. Playing Gladiator is pretty tricky too; I'm sure the control method could be improved no end. As it stands, it's very confusing, even when you've played it a few times. Even so, it could be called a follow on from Exploding Fist, and if you like games of that genre then you could well like this'

Comment 2

'It seems to be all gore and violence at the moment with Domark. I mean, with Friday the Thirteenth and now Gladiator. I must admit to getting a bit tired of fighting games. Though lacking a lot of the arcade appeal of other such programs, Gladiator does hold a great deal more depth. Being allowed to choose weapons before a match adds a great deal to the game. Gladiator isn't really hit material, though if you do like this type of game then it really would be worth seeing, since the depth of play involved is far greater than in any of its rivals'

Comment 3

'After A View To A Kill I wasn't expecting much from Domark, which is just as well after playing Gladiator. At first look Gladiator seems to be a very neat and realistic copy of the old gladiator fights, but when you finally get into the fight you realize that the game is totally unplayable. I found the game very confusing, and very unuserfriendly. Your gladiator has too many controls which are accessed in too hard a manner. With less controls which were easier to use, I would have given it a higher rating. Gladiator is trying to enter an area where Exploding Fist rules supreme. For me this comes nowhere near it.'

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