Dec 19, 2011
Ordinarily, I don’t play a lot of side-scrolling fighting games because I’m simply not very good at them. But every now and then I do enjoy a challenge, and Colosseum Heroes seemed different enough to be worth a look. I’m glad I checked it out, it’s proven to be very fun. I think it’s because, skill levels aside, some days we all love hitting monsters with an axe. It’s a great way to unwind.
Colosseum Heroes stars a young, unnamed gladiator who is just fighting to stay alive in the arena. He has a grim look of determination on a boyishly young face, as he marches around the pit, fighting off the…orcs? Okay, so they decided not to go for historical accuracy with this one. The gladiator is fighting orcs and can win gold off of their corpses as he goes, and then use that gold to buy himself better weapons and armour. That’s not exactly how I remember gladiatorial combat from my history lessons, but I’ve decided that I like it. Sometimes a little humorous anachronism goes very nicely with monster-axing.
The controls are interesting, but bear in mind that right now I don’t really have much to compare it to: it is a side-scroller, and at the bottom left of the screen there are a pair of buttons for left and right, to be triggered by your thumb. At the far right are your weapons, to be triggered by the thumb of your other hand. Your little gladiator will march around as you direct him, but with only two buttons there is no option for jumping. The weapons you have are all always displayed in that field on the bottom right, and are used by tapping it in the menu. Some weapons have faster reload capability and you can button-mash them to your heart’s content, but others have a reload time that is measured by the time it takes for the weapon’s icon to reappear after triggering it. You use the gold won in battle to upgrade or purchase weapons to give you a greater chance of success in battle. You can also use your gold to buy HP potions, which is vital as you begin each new round with the HP level that you finished the last with. If you are unfortunate enough to die, then you have the option of relinquishing your hard-earned goal, or actually purchasing real credits (with real dollars) to revive without losing your gold. This means that there is a fair amount of strategy to choosing what to spend your gold on, to keep going in each level for as long as you can.
The game has a cool style going for it, but in my opinion even better than that is the alternate version that comes bundled with it – you can play as a vampire! Not as a vampire in the gladiator arena (that would be silly!), but it’s truly a different game using the same design and engine. You still kill enemies for gold, but now you are fighting werewolves and instead of axes and javelins you can now purchase crossbows and magic bats to attack enemies for you. I quickly realized that I actually prefer the vampire version a bit, and feel like this is so much more than a bonus level that I can’t believe that I didn’t have to unlock it to play. I love the thought behind it and this alone raises the game up even more in my estimation.
It’s just very unfortunate that the movement for the character is actually incredibly difficult to control. Given that your thumbs have to remain on screen at all times, it can obscure the game field quite a bit. As well they don’t always seem to react as fast as they should, and so instead of turning back to meet a foe you’ll simply stand there and get an axe in the back. As well, all of your weapons being on screen at the same time means that in the heat of battle it’s very easy to suddenly realize that you’ve switched to the dagger instead of the battle axe, and then you’ll get stabbed by an orc before you can switch back and put up a fight.