BREAD AND CIRCUSES. We who are about to die salute you. Domark's recreation of the bloody duels in the arena of Rome has been completely reworked for the 128K Spectrum. It's one of the few games which has not only been improved by the addition of extra material but has also sought to remedy faults in the original program. That is very much to Domark's credit, and an intelligent way to make use of the opportunities the Spectrum 128 offers for upgraded software.
The original game was a very complex fighting program on the lines of International Karate or Fighting Warrior - we reviewed it in the January issue. One problem then was far too many moves on the joystick, some of which required pressing the fire button twice accompanied by the appropriate joystick position - that often led to throwing a weapon when instead you wanted to perform some devastating attack.
The new version actually scales down the movement options to a straight 16, one set with the fire button held down and one set without. It's now a much easier and faster game to play, without sacrificing any of the variety of skill involved.
Other additions include a rather out-of-place, but well-executed, circus theme at the beginning and fanfares when the gladiators march out from their caged enclosures at the beginning of each bout, as well as a whole set of extra screens for different bouts. The initial arena screen is the same, but after that there comes a moonlit duel by a Roman graveyard and a new arena with stands of what seem to be wineskins by the side.
The gladiators, superbly animated, now look different. You are the one with the fair hair and the clean-cut look. Your opponent has dark hair and probably hasn't washed since 54BC.
With 45 weapons to choose from, each with different attack and defence capabilities, Gladiator is probably the most monstrously bloodthirsty fighting game of them all.
Prepare yourselves for the contest of all time then - grind those blades and mend the weighted nets.
Morituri te salutamus.
Panem et circenses.
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston