Joey, Do You Like Gladiators Movies? How Do You Feel About American Gladiators…The Game?

Nothing like an Airplane quote to lead you into something that has nothing to do with the movie.

I’ll let the glory of what led you here just sink in.

Moving on…

So what did you watch on Saturday morning, after your cartoons were over? Did you like a little music? Was Soul Train your show of choice? Maybe Solid Gold was your thing? Or did you prefer your Saturday morning post-cartoon viewing a little more…American? And Gladiator-esque?

I’m like many who grew up in the 1980s and got caught up in the heat of competition that one could only get from watching American Gladiators.I’ll admit it, I loved watching physically fit people go head-to-head with muscle-bound people with glorious names like “Nitro,” “Lace,” Gold,” “Laser,” “Blaze,” and “Zap.” All that big hair, headbands, and spandex…it’s like one of my late 1980s/early 1990s dance recitals without the dancing. And as a kid, I ate it up.

I have a brother, so I had no choice. It’s what we watched.

And since we were so fascinated by the show, this was dropped into our little hands for our ninth birthday (we’re twins) in 1991.


(Image Source – Wikipedia)

Ladies and gents, there is nothing quite like the sound of kids screaming about how they can play a video game version of Joust and Human Cannonball.

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Glory, thy name is an event where you hit people with giant Q-Tips and cling to a rope in the hope of swinging your feet right into the face of a burly, spandex-clad individual named after the elements or a precious metal. Or a Laser.

What you see here is the Nintendo Entertainment System version of American Gladiators, released in 1991 by GameTek. The game is based on the television series, but is different than the releases for the Super Nintendo, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Genesis, and Amiga systems. And based on description alone…the NES version was the most far-fetched of them all. It was a series of side-scrolling mini-games, rather than anything resembling the actual show. But, since we only had an NES in those days, this is the version we had. And play it we did. And hard it was. And I’m describing this the way Yoda would.

As I said, this game was a series of side-scrolling mini-games, pitting you, the blue spandex-clad competitor (complete with blue Mandatory Mullet) against any of the then-current Gladiators. There’s dated references in quotes, singlets, the 8-bit scream, dun-dun-dun music, a guitar riff when you do succeed at one of the event mini-games…and Mandatory Mullets.

I loved this game growing up, despite the difficulty it threw at you, but it was still fun to play. Even your imminent Game Over was glorious!

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All this for five points!

There were five mini-games, all set up nicely on a menu screen:

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And all of them required speed, skill, and the right amount of timing.

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And where Wall was concerned, the ability to hit A and B in rapid-fire succession. If the two female Gladiators chasing you like spiders didn’t do you in, running into one of the blocks or a gap in the climbing wall did. It was possible to have five lives going into the wall, and blow them all falling off. Of course, this was also possible if you grabbed the rope on Human Cannonball too high, flew off it too soon, or got jousted right off the platform.

Oh, and it was fun to jump off the platforms “accidentally” at Joust, if only to hear the 8-bit doom music.

But all that aside, how you would like to see some gameplay action?

You would?!

At Vic’s suggestion, I put my hatred aside of off-the-cuff, unrehearsed speaking to do a commentary against my gameplay. It actually turned out better than I expected (Facebook alerts aside – I’ll remember to not have Facebook open when I do my next gameplay video).

So here, submitted for your approval/enjoyment/general tolerance is my first Retroist gameplay video for American Gladiators!

And there you have it, my very first gameplay video for Retroist, combined with a writing style only I could possibly pull off/bore you with.

I sincerely hope you like what you’ve seen, and I’m open to feedback of any kind. I do ask that it’s fair though – everyone tries this for the first time, right?

Gladiators, ready?!

Allison is a master of the commercial archive, boasting over a thousand retro commercials in her collection. She also loves writing recaps of obscure holiday specials (preferably animated), as well as sincere pieces from the heart. She’s a mushy gal. If you like what you’ve seen here, she’d love for you to visit her blog, Allison’s Written Words, and follow her blog on Facebook. She can also be found on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

She harbored a wanting to do the Human Cannonball event as a kid. She even had a Mandatory Mullet….the female kind.

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Allison L. Venezio

Secretary/Blogger-Writer at Allison's Written Words and Retroist
Allison is a Secretary by day, a writer/blogger by night (and during lunch breaks and in the mornings before work), a nostalgia geek (and a geek in general), worshipper of Thor (and Chris Hemsworth), and honorary Avenger (she has a pin, so it is official).She collects Funko Pops, loves anything that takes her back to childhood, and has confessed her love for Kenny Loggins.Oh, and she listens to Chicago...alot.If any of this piques your interest, she'd love for you to visit her personal blog, Allison's Written Words, where she talks about alot of the same stuff she talks about here, and more!

She can be found at can follow her blog on Facebook (, Instagram @allisonswrittenwords, and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

(Her fiancee is supportive of the whole Chris Hemsworth and Kenny Loggins love thing.)
Allison L. Venezio
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