Classic Retro Video Game Reviews

GameTek's American Gladiators -Nintendo NES
Retro Gaming Review

 Nintendo NES console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game ReviewGameTek's American Gladiators for Nintendo NES Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Title: American Gladiators
Manufacturer: GameTek
Platform: Nintendo NES
Release Date: 1991
Part #: NES-3A-USA
Rating: 2 out of 5
ESRB Rating: N/A

Rating: GameTek's American Gladiators Classic Retro Video Game Review Rating
GameTek's American Gladiators Screenshot:
GameTek's American Gladiators for Nintendo NES screenshot Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review American Gladiators screenshot

The American Gladiators TV show was a guilty pleasure that translated into an equally ridiculous video game. This musclebound crew of game-show warriors would challenge contestants in a variety of events. It was a truly awful show, but I couldn't stop watching.

My favorite event involved a tennis ball gun that launched fuzzy yellow balls at high velocity. Each hit looked fairly painful. The "Gladiators" were comprised of male and female talent - all presumed to be body builders of some sort. The show didn't focus much on strength. It seemed to be more about luck and agility.

American Gladiators Story Arc

Lace from American Gladiators

The video game parallels the TV show. You participate in 5 events with four levels and there is a final event at the end.

American Gladiators Game Play

There are 5 events for either single player or 2-player modes. You bigin with 5 lives and the game continues until someone completes all the challenges or loses 5 lives. Like the TV show, 2 player games pitted both players against each other and the gladiators.

The 5 events are: Joust, Wall, Human Cannonball, Powerball, and Assault. If you complete them, you advance to the final challenge. The Eliminator is toughest challenge and comprised of four events - each one different from any of the prior challenges.

Holy shit! Check this out...
The American Gladiators TV show ran from September 1989 to May 1996. They matched a cast of amateur athletes against each other,
as well as against the show's gladiators, in various contests. The show had a 2 season reprise in 2008, but again faded. In addition to the NES game, it was also released for the SNES.

The Eliminator involves: Hand Bike Riding, I-beam Jumps, Conveyor Belts, and Zip Lines. These challenges are similar to the former 5, but it was nice to see that they created unique events for the Eliminator. It would have been easy to regurgitate the former events rather than create new ones.

The A and B buttons perform different functions depending on which event you are playing. This holds true for the initial 5 events and those that make up the Eliminator round at the end.

American Gladiators

One of my problems with this game is the erratic nature of some of the events. Some are kind of fun and reminiscent of the TV show while others suffer poor control and seem a bit forced. I'll admit I did like some of the events, but others were simply frustrating. I thought I'd like the Joust event, but there didn't seem to be much balance between the exchange of hits. The Wall was OK for a brief time, but continually pressing A & N buttons to climb gets irritating. You start to get close and suddenly a manic Gladiator runs up on you and you're back at the beginning.

Some people will find American Gladiators fun. I might too but I'm easily annoyed and simply wanted to relive the idiocy of the TV show. I think this is the sort of game that grows on you the more you play... as long as you really liked the TV show. Otherwise, it doesn't offer enough good game play elements for someone not vested in playing against the Gladiators. It will bring back memories of Blaze, Nitro, and Lace, but it won't offer compelling play for those seeking a good gaming experience.

Whereas the video game follows the play mechanics of the show, I wish the 2-player mode could pit the contestants against the Gladiators, played by one of the players. Playing as one of the Gladiators would have spiced it up a bit. That probably wouldn't have saved it, but I dig the idea.


 Nintendo NES console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Final Judgement:

GameTek's American Gladiators

is about as lame as the TV show it's based upon. Some of the challenges feel as though the control scheme wasn't thought out too well. Some are kind of fun, but overall it's not a great gaming experience. I bought the game for NES and SNES simply because I loved the show. Well, maybe "love" isn't the right sentiment, but I felt compelled to watch it... Might have been Lace :)

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