There probably isn’t a time in history wherein humans haven’t bashed in one another’s skulls for fun and profit. Rage of the Gladiator isn’t a historically accurate representation of ancient coliseum fights (unless gladiators went up against minotaurs and giant snakes, and the Romans simply forgot to write about it), but it offers all the fun of arena battles without you having to actually suffer a mace to your skull.
Initially released as a WiiWare title, Rage of the Gladiator puts you in the loincloth of Gracius, a noble accused of murdering his father. Though he’s not immediately sentenced to swing from the end of a rope, Gracius is condemned to fight in the arena– and die in the arena, whenever it’s most convenient for him. Needless to say, your job is to keep Gracius alive against all takers.
Mean Green Mother from Outer Space.
Rage of the Gladiator’s gameplay is comparable to Nintendo’s Punch-Out, albeit with more minotaur sweat. Fighting your way to the top of the tier primarily involves dodging enemy attacks and then retaliating as soon as you have an open window. You attack your opponent by swiping, and you can go for low attacks and high blows– but to be honest, you’ll probably just slash mindlessly at the screen, and that kind of works too.
There isn’t a whole lot of strategy to the fights in Rage of the Gladiator (the game does get progressively more difficult), though your enemies are a colorful bunch that put the hurt on you with interesting and varied attacks. You can upgrade Gracius’ stats, armor, and weapons as you fight and collect gold, and you can also learn special attacks that cut a chunk off your opponent’s health when they’re utilized at the right time. Some of your enemies are funny, too; it’s hard not to feel a little bad for your first opponent, a washed-up goblin warrior who’s essentially a green-skinned Glass Joe.
Sorry, I don’t speak cow.
Rage of the Gladiator is not particularly unique, gameplay-wise; aside from Punch-Out, accurate comparisons have been made to Infinity Blade. That said, Rage of the Gladiator is still a lot of fun to play, and it’s packaged with gorgeous graphics and decent voice acting, though an option for subtitles would certainly be welcome. Hacking at monsters is a blast, the iOS swipe controls translate well, and you can grab the whole thing for a fraction of what you’d pay on the Wii. You can’t lose.
Okay, you can lose in a more literal sense. Like, if a snake-haired woman cuts open your belly and eats your intestines. That counts as a loss right there.