The 80s, you’ve been missed. But, really, couldn’t we have done better? Who knew that Gametek had published this dung shrine? They’ve published gems like Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, and Jeopardy! Surely it’s the same thing to make a game about gladiators and sporting stuff, right? Fail.
The best part of this game is the intro screen. You get a near-picture-perfect view of the classic 80s team. That’s it. That’s all. Turn it on. Watch the intro screen. Smile. And go watch some 80s cartoons or something.
The gameplay is beyond silly. The controls are unresponsive, unclear, and, largely pointless. If you haven’t watched the TV show religiously, don’t even try. Nothing is explained. No rules. No objectives. Nothing. You have to psychically know what you’re supposed to do. It’s like playing the Price is Right without being told why you’re randomly shouting out prices.
There are different game modes for each one of the events, all of which feel like they were written for the Atari 2600, with the same graphics, and worse controls. Unforgivable for the SNES.
The game has two redeeming qualities. One, it supports simultaneous two-player action through split screen. The only time I could see that you would ever want to play it would be after watching a marathon of American Gladiators, while high on Cheetos and RC Cola, and you have a half hour before Nascar is on. You could whip out the game and button mash with your TV-watching cohort mindless for a while. Bragging rights to the person with the best button mashing, and the most Cheeto-coloured controller.
Two, yes, that is an Adidas logo in the game. This ad is one of the earliest game ad placements I can remember, and that makes American Gladiators interesting in its own respect. One has to wonder if Adidas negotiated the placement with Gametek, or if it came along for free with their partnership with the show. Or, maybe Gametek just threw it in for kicks.
Verdict: This game makes a better advertising history research project than a video game. The controls are frustratingly useless. The game modes are confusing and pointless. The music is irritatingly repetitive. It’s an obvious example of a game by Americans for Americans with about as much thought put into it as “reality” TV.