Have you ever wanted to be a Roman gladiator and fight in arenas to the death with the crowd cheering at your every move?
Well now you can…well, almost. In Coliseum, you are not quite a gladiator, but the manager of a group of such fighters, with the hopes of getting wealth and recognition. It’s certainly a great idea, but is it worth your hard-earned money?
Unfortunately, this game has no animated graphics, not even animations of your fighters in the arena (which would have made the game much better-looking). Instead, you will have to read text descriptions of the fight. The speed of the text can be changed, but there is no way to skip it during the fight, so if you’d rather not read it, you will still need to sit there waiting for the fight to be over. Fortunately though, the descriptions of the fighting are not badly written and are interesting to read. The 2D static backgrounds are nicely drawn, so that while the game doesn’t really have any animations, it’s not too hard on the eyes.
As with the graphics, the audio is not terribly spectacular. There are some nice music once in a while, but mostly the only sounds you will hear are the clicks of the buttons or the grunts and sword clashing sounds, and sometimes the cheering of the crowds in the arena. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of variety of sound effects, so that the sounds constantly get repeated and are often quite annoying. There is also no way to adjust the volume of the music or sound effects or to turn them off, unfortunately.
The gameplay is definitely better than both the audio and the graphics. The game is extremely easy to learn, but it takes a while to master. To begin the game you are given three fighters, one of which you will need to assign to be the one to fight in the arena. From there you may train your other fighters (although I did not find training too useful in the games I played) or buy potions (steroids) or buy enchantments, then go fight with an opponent. Potions can greatly improve your gladiator’s stats for a short time, but can also have side effects too. Enchantments can be bought to bring you some additional power, such as reducing enemy willpower (hitpoints) by 10 or gaining 1000 gold every time a gladiator is killed. Usually a fighter surrenders if his willpower reaches 0, but sometimes they will suffer fatal wounds and die, adding some intensity to the game. To get the money for training your fighters and buying potions, you must win fights. Additionally, you may bet on other fights, and this proved to be a much better way to gain money for me because with the stats of the fighters printed there, it’s easy to see who will win and who will lose. This is about all you can do outside of fights. Even inside the fighting arena, there are not much more options. The only thing you can choose is one of the three fighting style of your gladiator. You will have an option to change the style once your fighter reaches a certain amount of willpower. Other than this, all you are able to do is sit back and enjoy the fight (which is mostly just randomness, from what I can gather). As you can see, the choices you can make are very few and very limited. Without internet support, the game grows stale quite fast, so there is little replay value. At the most, this game will last for a couple of days.
As far as management games are concerned, this one is a bit on the light side and simplistic and quite frankly, unrealistic. However with some more additions, this game’s great ideas could actually be better implemented. So unless you are a casual gamer who wants something easy and simple game to play, then you might want to consider this game, otherwise this game may prove too short and unexciting for you.