Rage of the Gladiator Review

Rage of the Gladiator steps into Punch-Out!!‘s ring. See if this WiiWare title has what it takes.

By Matthew Tidman. Posted 07/20/2010 09:12 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great production values, excellent Wii MotionPlus use
Poison Mushroom for...
Predictable story, repetitive music

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard scoring criteria.

Rage of the Gladiator Screenshot

Despite its success on NES, Punch-Out!! has not seen many imitators or competitors. The reflex-based gameplay requiring players to make the right move in response to an opponent’s tell seems like it would be something that many would copy with their own fresh coat of paint, yet it has stood alone in its field– until now. Rage of the Gladiator takes the tried-and-true gameplay of Punch-Out!! and gives it a twist all its own.

That’s not to say that Rage of the Gladiator is a shameless clone. The setting eschews the boxing theme of Punch-Out!! and instead goes with a fantasy setting. Players take on the role of Gracious, a prince who has been convicted of killing his father and sentenced to fight in the gladiatorial arena until he has drawn his last breath. Gracious tells his story through still screens with a voiceover after every few rounds. While it may not be the most amazing presentation, it can be forgiven considering that the game is fully voiced while still having to deal with the file-size restrictions of WiiWare. Unfortunately the ending of the story, which is set up to be a big reveal, is very predictable. Here’s a hint: Gracious has a twin brother.

So the story is serviceable, but not the greatest, how is the gameplay? Players are thrust into the ring against foes of increasing difficulty. While the early battles are easy, the game’s difficulty steadily increases, and by the final battle players will need to take advantage of every trick available. Players can choose to attack left or right, high and low. If using Wii MotionPlus, this decision is figured intuitively, but players who don’t own MotionPlus are not required to go out and make that purchase: they can play with either the Wii Remote + Nunchuck combo or just the Wii Remote sideways. Having tried all the variations out, the sideways Wii Remote seems easiest, but it’s nice to see support for Wii MotionPlus in a WiiWare game.

The game also features a limited leveling-up system where players are given points to allocate to skills after each successful battle. This is a nice feature for gamers who want to customize their play style, but an auto-allocation option would have been nice for gamers just interested in the core gameplay. The leveling up is simplistic, and it works, but it can pull players away from the twich-action of the game.

The game’s production values are outstanding. While the graphical finesse isn’t quite on par with a few other WiiWare titles (LostWinds, notably) it is definitely better than much of what is out there. As aforementioned, the game is fully voiced as well. Unfortunately, the music can get a little repetitive, marring its near-perfect presentation slightly.

Rage of the Gladiator is one of those games where if you like the gameplay, you’ll love the game. Fans of Punch-Out!! should definitely apply. Others will probably wish to avoid the game. It’s solid but not for everyone.

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