In the year
2348, humans have been exploring space for the past four centuries, and
have established contact with various alien civilizations. People now emigrate
from one planet to another, and life is generally good. In steps Edward Bilstein. A Nobel prize-winning physicist, he uncovers the secret to humanity's
"sixth sense," and discovers how to use it as an energy source he calls,
After failed attempts to coerce other Plasma fighters to
join him in taking over Earth, Dr. Bilstein is captured by authorities
and imprisoned in a satellite orbiting planet Zeta. Six years later, Bilstein
has built himself a powerful cyborg body, and has managed to escape from
his cell, gathering a cadre of Plasma mercenaries at his side. After making
quick work of Zeta's defenses, Bilstein again sets his eyes on Earth. A
panicked Earth Federation has only one recourse: to find people who could
utilize the Plasma weapons against their own creator in a last, desperate
hope to stop the mad genius before he can invade Earth with his nascent
Gerelt's late ancestor... Star Gladiator features an "odd" cast to
say the least.
Gladiator was Capcom's first 3D fighting game, set in a futuristic Star
Wars-inspired world and presenting an entire new cast of characters. The characters
of Star Gladiator definitely resemble several well known personalities
from Star Wars, but many are considerably original designs. Each
character presents a unique fighting style with halfway decent animations (althought
there are a few awkward ones scattered about).
Instead of the usual 6-button layout, Star
Gladiator uses a four-button system consisting of two attack buttons that
utilize a character's weapon, a kick attack, and a guard defense. The fighters
battle in a limited 3D plane field where ring-outs (a la Soul Blade) are possible.
Characters can sidestep, however, they can't be punished with horizontal strikes
during a sidestep (which kinda sucks). The gameplay speed is a bit slow, and
overall, not nearly as fine tuned as Capcom's trademark 2D fighting games are.
Chewbaccaa!!!! ...with a
Other gameplay features include "Plasma
Reverses," which are defensive moves that can be performed any time during
gameplay. Another defensive maneuver "Plasma Reflect" allows players
to deflect the opponent's incoming attack and stun them, leaving them open for a
few seconds. "Plasma Revenge" enables fighters to counter an
opponent's incoming move and strike back with their own quick attack. Characters
can also use a Plasma Strike, which can cause huge damage to an opponent if it
connects on sight, but a Plasma Strike can only be done once per round.
Star Gladiator also introduces the
"Plasma Combo" System. Each fighter has his or her own combo strings,
which can be used to combo their opponent in a relentlessly, even if the
opponent is blocking. When a fighter strings together five hits they'll be able
to initiate a Plasma Final, which unleashes a powerful attack at the end of the
combo. This system was later discarded in the sequel.
11 hardware this game ran on allowed an easy home translation to the PlayStation,
and it received a better reception on console than it did in arcades. Still, Star Gladiator
was hardly the smash hit Capcom may have hoped for. The sequel, Plasma Sword:
Nightmare of Bilstein (Star Gladiator 2 in Japan) was only ported
to the Sega Dreamcast despite much speculation of a PlayStation conversion.
Needless to say, Star Gladiator didn't
live up to Capcom's well known 2D fighting games. Most hardcore fighting game fans definitely passed on this
one, but the designs of Star Gladiator lived on in various other Capcom
games. The sequel, Plasma Sword, was a slight improvement over the first