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American Gladiators

Genre: Sports Developer: Imagitec Designs Inc. Publisher: Gametek Players: 1-2 Released: 1992

The Music.

The Lights.

The Adrenaline.

The Action.

Gametek seemed to have forgotten most of these when it released the ports of this game to the big three systems of the time. What we got instead of Lazer, Storm, Ice, Blaze or whatever ridiculous named gladiators, sweet hosts Mike Adamle and Larry Czonka (or Joe Theismann, or whoever it was), was this: a bunch of button masher games that hang you out to dry. And not even a chance to see the sweet tennis ball launcher nail you in the face.

Now it is important to mention a few things about the background of GameTek. According to Wikipedia, it was known for making game show titles for mainly the 16-bit generation and some for the PSX/N64 before it went bankrupt and some of its assets were swept up by the now video game super power Take Two. Most of its games were pretty bad but I imagine they sold well back in the day.

Okay, but seriously now, the first thing you notice when you turn on the game is that the title graphics are pretty real and faithful to the TV show, but the sound is pretty bad. Well that’s cool, but really that’s where the accuracy ends. You get a choice of a tournament mode or two-player mode. The two-player mode is just like the tournament except it’s over after one “show.” Five thousand bonus points to anyone who can play through the whole tournament and get to whatever ending screen there is – if there even is one.

Anyway, there are a number of the events from the TV show in this game: Assault (the tennis ball gun game where you have to run to the different guns and try to hit the target before they get you or time runs out), which has awkward controls. It’s quite difficult to get the guns, and figuring out how to aim and fire is also really annoying. After that, a game of Joust is before you, and again, it is hard to figure out what button combination works. A few of them work, and you can get points for staying alive, but keeping faith with the GameTek tradition, the A.I. beats the tar out of you fairly fast if you go right in offensively.

After Assault and the Joust, you get to go to the wall. The wall is actually fairly easy compared to the rest of the games here, and a fairly competent button masher will be able to conquer it and win the maximum number of points. Speaking of conquer, my favorite game, Breakthrough and Conquer, is nowhere to be found in this or any of the other two console versions.

Atlasphere is next, and here is a game that is actually good and doesn’t get in the way at all. Granted, the A.I. is tough, but usually you can average five to seven points with ease. After Atlasphere, the quaint experience continues with Powerball. This game is fun to watch on the TV show and any followers of the show would know the famous Billy Wirth confrontation and the fun that ensued.

Well, that fun was never to be found in this game. All that was here is a top-down view Powerball effort that lacks any sound effects and features cheesy movement and piss poor controls. That’s basically all there is for Powerball. Same music, a few points, and you are most likely are at a disadvantage going into the Eliminator.

And let the button mashing begin, as if it ever ended. The all-inclusive Eliminator requires you to bash A and C till your fingers bleed. Granted, this is where the game looks the best, but its still pretty blah. It has all of the usual Gladiator events, the incline treadmill, rope climb, and that funny “is the gladiator there, or is he not” wall. I guess it elicits all of the excitement that it could, not that it means much. Just like the rest of the game, this part is very tedious and not very rewarding, and I think that’s what the whole game gets you. Oh, P.S., You’re going to lose the tournament by this point unless you’ve managed to keep it within five or ten points. If I recall correctly, you receive a point for every second you finish ahead of the opponent.

Overall, this game is pretty much your classic bad game. Don’t pay your three bucks for it and put it in your collection. It has miserable sound, fairly mediocre graphics, and an A.I. that will make you want to rip your shirt in a Hulkamania fashion. So, go find some sweet American Gladiators clips on YouTube, dare I say watch the new stuff with Hulk Hogan, brother, but don’t play this game very much. It’s not fun and it’s very irritating. Its disappointing enough to go on a ‘roid rage afterwards.

SCORE: 4 out of 10

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