(3DS eShop)

Rage Of The Gladiator (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Rage Of The Gladiator Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Are you not entertained?

The original WiiWare version of Rage of the Gladiator was a triumph in more ways than one; not only was it a hugely playable take on the classic Punch Out!! formula but it also managed to bring a considerable sense of gravitas to Wii's downloadable game service — a gravitas which was sorely lacking due to Nintendo's questionable approach to indies at the time, and the draconian file size limitations which meant that most WiiWare titles looked very poor in comparison to standard retail releases.

The game has since found a new lease of life on mobile formats such as iOS and Android, and has now come full circle with a welcome return to a Nintendo system — in this case, the 3DS, via it's eShop store. While this might seem like a cheap way to squeeze a bit more cash out of the title, Rage of the Gladiator is such an engrossing and entertaining piece of software that it's relatively easy to build up the enthusiasm to play it all over again — and the small but notable improvements which have been made certainly give this handheld release the edge over its WiiWare relation.

Rage of the Gladiator's storyline remains unchanged; you assume the role of Prince Gracius of Avalance, who is unfairly imprisoned when his father is murdered. Framed for the killing, a distraught Gracius is forced to fight a dazzling range of supernatural foes in the gladiatorial arena in order to prove his innocence — thankfully, he's no pampered sop and is more than capable of defending himself when the warhammers begin to fly.

Shorn of its Wii-based motion controls, this title adopts a pad-and-buttons interface which is reassuringly precise and has none of the uncertainty which sometimes plagued the waggle commands of the original. Like the aforementioned Punch Out!!, your actions are somewhat limited — you're rooted to the spot and can't outflank your rival. Instead, you must dodge blows, block them with your shield or leap in the air to avoid taking damage. Successfully evading your opponent's offensive opens up a window of opportunity where you can begin your own devastating combination of swipes and kicks. Land enough of these and you'll charge up your special attack meter, which can be tagged onto a combo for increased damage.

While it sounds like your moveset is somewhat meagre, it's surprisingly just how deep and complicated the gameplay can become. This is largely down to the sheer variety displayed in the characters you fight; no two are alike and each has a wide range of different attacks, taunts and specials. Some fire projectiles from a distance, others call upon additional help to keep you on your toes. For example, the snake charmer you encounter is flanked by two baskets, out of which a pair of deadly vipers appears — should you dodge in the direction of one while avoiding the charmer's attack, you'll receive damage from his slithery pet. These extra threats keep you on your toes and prevent Rage of the Gladiator from turning into a repetitive and predictable button-masher; they also make it more satisfying when you emerge victorious from battle, as you really have to plan your actions to ensure triumph.

Of course, once you've learned the patterns and tactics of each opponent then it's inevitable that the game will lose some of its lustre, but the developer has done an excellent job of delaying that for as long as possible. The three difficulty levels don't just make the ten enemies more powerful — they actually give them so many different moves and strategies that they feel like entirely new foes. Using the tactics you honed on the "Novice" rank when fighting on "Warrior" difficulty will usually see you face down in the dirt pretty quickly.

The game's longevity is extended further still by the equipment and upgrade systems which have been put in place. Success in battle earns you gold which can be used to purchase new armour, weapons, restorative potions and skill books, while special victory points can be expended to unlock new special attacks or boost your current abilities. Acquiring all of the game's content is no mean feat.

Although the Wii is a more powerful system than the 3DS, Rage of the Gladiator arguably looks superior on Nintendo's portable system. This could be down to the fact that the developer was working against a strict file size limit on WiiWare, but whatever the reason, this title looks absolutely stunning in portable form. Environments have more detail, enemies look better and generally the entire game appears to have received a lick of paint. The resolution has obviously dropped from the Wii edition and the 3D effect is a little extreme (we had to turn it off after a while because it made our eyes hurt), but in every other respect this is one of the best looking non-retail downloadable games yet to grace the 3DS eShop. The sound is equally impressive, with bombastic music and a raft of vocal samples.

Conclusion

Rage of the Gladiator remains one of WiiWare's undisputed highlights, and we've been pleasantly surprised to discover that the game is even more alluring in portable form. The pick-up-and-play mentality of the title is better suited to the 3DS, and while it's a shame that the immersive motion controls understandably had to be sacrificed in this port, after an hour or so you won't miss them at all.

With its excellent cast of enemies, three challenging difficulty levels and massive selection of unlockable items and skills, Rage of the Gladiator is a real knockout of a download. Even if you've played the WiiWare original to destruction, this is highly recommended — while the core gameplay remains largely unchanged, the 3DS version feels like a more refined and appealing offering. It plays, looks and sounds fantastic, and gets a massive thumbs-up from us.

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User Comments (42)

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#1

Philip_J_Reed said:

Glad to hear it! The WiiWare one passed me by, so I was hoping this would be as good, or better. Great review sir!

DarkCoolEdge

#2

DarkCoolEdge said:

@Damo Is it truly worth it if you have the WiiWare version and you didn't play it much? I'm not sure if it is worth the combine 17€.

Thanks.

Gressil

#3

Gressil said:

I haven't played it through 100% yet, but a 9/10 seems solid. Good visuals, fun mechanics, good learning curve. Challenging as well.

If you have the extra money and this game even remotely piques your interest, I recommend this game.

bezerker99

#4

bezerker99 said:

I made it thru the first playthrough on the WiiWare version. The 2nd round is way more difficult! Awesome game!! It's a free download on android btw.

Shiryu

#5

Shiryu said:

This was a lot of fun on Wiiware, glad to see it successfully translated into portable 3D! =)

Spoony_Tech

#7

Spoony_Tech said:

@DarkCoolEdge Unless you have to have it on the go I would say no. Its good and I'm much further then the Wii version only because I play my 3ds like crazy. Its is good but I wish the screen was a bit brighter!

Tasuki

#8

Tasuki said:

Great review. This is what I was waiting for before I put down the money for this game. Looks like I will be picking this one up soon.

Snkfiend

#10

Snkfiend said:

So this game gets a 9/10 not trying to knock the opinion of this topic but I played this game and it isn't a 9 in my opinion, It felt like I was playing a bootleg Punchout but boring.

Gen0neD

#12

Gen0neD said:

I agree with everything but the 3D effect being too strong. Its perfect. And when that Indian dude squats down an goes,"BlablablablablaBLAH!" Kick him right in the jaw before he can finish. You cant help but talk trash to the screen,'Yeah, blablabla my a$$ fool.' Its great.

Spoony_Tech

#15

Spoony_Tech said:

@Gen0neD oh and i agree that the 3d effect is not that bad. As a matter of fact any 3d doesn't bother me and never really has. Now if I turn 3d off that bothers! Full 3d on every game FTW!

Oh and Pokemon overworld I'm looking at you!! -.-

bofis

#16

bofis said:

So you keep saying how they were limited by file size on the Wii, but what's the download size for the 3DS title? I think this would be a very useful thing to report in the upper-right corner for all downloadable games going forward ;-)

Kaze_Memaryu

#18

Kaze_Memaryu said:

I really didn't expect this game to fare that well! Never played the WiiWare version, and from the eShop trailer, it looked somewhat low-budget to me. Maybe I'll try it.

Emblem

#20

Emblem said:

9/10? I didn't play the wiiware version and chalked this up as shovelware, i may have to try this out after all.

BulbasaurusRex

#24

BulbasaurusRex said:

I'm still sticking with just the WiiWare version on my TV screen with the excellent motion controls (with which I never had a problem once I set the MotionPlus sensitivity to 40%).

Romeo

#25

Romeo said:

how long is this game?
how many hours does it take to beat that game?

would be nice if anyone could answer me that question, thanks!

Kirk

#26

Kirk said:

The one thing I'm disappointed with is the lighting.

It looks much better in the Wii version and is far more dynamic and dramatic; especially when the fighters are using magic or lightning is going off etc.

Other than that it looks decent.

Edit: In fact, I also prefer the cleaner, softer, warmer and more "toon" style of the textures in the original too. It's just more aesthetically pleasing.

KnightRider666

#27

KnightRider666 said:

This game is awesome, and I'm not surprised it scored so high. If you like Punch-Out!! even remotely, you need to add this game to your collection now! I blew through the novice(easy) circuit w/o even upgrading my weapons, armor, etc. I did upgrade my abilities though. The warrior(intermediate) circuit is a totally different story though as I suffered my very first defeat at the hands of the 1st opponent. There's still a gladiator(hard) circuit ahead after I beat the warrior circuit! I can't even imagine how crazy difficult that's going to be! Well worth the $7!

Chris720

#28

Chris720 said:

Hmm... Sounds pretty good, I'll think about it, but I've got so many games to play at the moment I don't think it would be wise to add yet another game on to the pile.

Romeo

#30

Romeo said:

how many hours does it take to beat this game?
whoever answers this question first gets an internet cookie

Link41x

#31

Link41x said:

That looks great, I may get it on WiiWare. Just as an excuse to play my Wii :P

Jaz007

#32

Jaz007 said:

I'll pass on the game since I already played it on Wii. I rather liked the motion plus controls and found them to be precise too, so the lack I motion controls is downside for me in this version too.

sinalefa

#33

sinalefa said:

Still not sure that I should double dip.

@Romeo

That is hard to say. Ten opponents per difficulty level, three difficulty settings. So the length of the game will depend on your pattern recognition skills, reflexes and memory.

XCWarrior

#34

XCWarrior said:

Will pick this game up for sure. Almost caught up finally on beating all my eshop games. Steamworld Dig is first though.

WinterWarm

#35

WinterWarm said:

To those it may interest or concern:

9/10 from Nintendo Life.

22/24 Five Stars

2/24 Four Stars

Average of Five Stars on North American Nintendo 3DS eShop.

At the time of this writing, October 2nd, 2013, 11:03 PM, Eastern Time.

Noend

#36

Noend said:

I gave it five stars on the eshop this weekend, bought it based off the wiiware review. Definitely a fun game and I like the interesting characters. I have to go back and re-fight people to earn better armor now, half way through the 2nd level.

Will-75

#37

Will-75 said:

I have the WiiWare version and now the 3DS version and the 3DS version is greater in every way, AWESOME AWESOME pick up and play on the go title - I'd recommend it . I would love to see a sequel on the 3DS for this game !

SwerdMurd

#39

SwerdMurd said:

One of the many games I ALMOST 100% liked - insanely strong Punchout-style clone, all sorts of really intelligent, well-planned RPGism to stretch out the game without feeling cheap.

Main issue here was, as usual, Wii controls. I got it as a test for Wii Motion Plus... and Plus or not, it did a crap job of sensing what I was doing. Punchout worked MUCH better with waggle controls.

I could always tell there was a great game underneath it though. Time to play it as nature intended - with buttons :D

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