Star Gladiator Episode I: Final Crusade is one of the lesser-known fighting games in Capcom's long list of fighters, notable for being Capcom's first attempt to make a mark in the 3D world of fighting games like Virtua Fighter, Battle Arena Toshinden, Tekken, and the Soul series in the 90's. Capcom did try hard to make the game different from the others by using a different hardware for the original PlayStation, similar to the Street Fighter EX series and the first Rival Schools game on the same build. Star Gladiator has a Plasma Gauge, similar to most Capcom fighting games at the time, but what set it apart from the others was the fact that different command inputs (via a specific fighting combo) were required in order to make the Plasma Strike (super move) work.The story of Star Gladiator takes place from within the future year of 2348, in which intergalactic travel is very common and that mankind is able to interact with many different alien species. Dr. Edward Bilstein: a Nobel Prize-winning German-American prestigious physicist for the Earth Federation, uncovers the secret to humanity's "sixth sense": a technique for capturing the energy of the human mind and discovers how to use it as a new type of energy source called Plasma Power. While Bilstein is able to gain fame and fortune for his discovery of Plasma Power, the Earth Federation initiates a private investigation into the matter and is shocked to learn and discover that Bilstein had used actual human bodies during his Plasma Power experiments. Through this horrifying revelation, Bilstein is arrested and exiled from Earth for his heinous crimes, being placed in a floating prison satellite that orbits the Planet Zeta. Four years later, Bilstein, who is now in a cybernetic body, escapes from the prison and gathers his own cadre of fighters and forces, calling his new group "The Fourth Empire" and declaring his personal conquest of the universe. Realizing that Bilstein must be stopped at all costs, the Earth Federation decides to gather people who are able to use Plasma Power from within their own given right and attempt to destroy the Fourth Empire before they're able to conquer Earth and the rest of the universe.The character roster is rather small but somewhat memorable for a fighting game and Capcom did a good job to make an effort in giving the series some depth, similar to that of the Star Wars franchise. This game introduced us to several unique characters with their own unique weapons.Despite the effort on the PlayStation with the other Capcom games, Star Gladiator did not set the benchmark for 3D fighters like Street Fighter did with 2D fighters. However, Star Gladiator did manage to warrant a sequel for the arcades in 1998 and later ported to Sega Dreamcast in 2000, which was called Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein (originally Star Gladiator 2 in Japan). Plasma Sword had dropped the first game's Plasma Combo System in favor of the traditional Street Fighter-esque method of unleashing super moves, which was called the Plasma Strike System, and also introduced fourteen new characters to the series, though ten of them (aside from their character designs and original stories) mirrored most of the original cast in terms of weaponry and movesets.While the series hasn't seen another entry since, a few characters from the series have made cameo appearances in various Capcom crossover games (Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes, Capcom vs. SNK, the SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash series, Capcom Fighting Evolution/Jam, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Project X Zone 2).The character sheet for this game can be found here.
This work provides examples of:
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The Plasma Vortex stage of the final fight against Ghost Bilstein in the original Star Gladiator.
- The Cameo: Ryu makes a surprising cameo appearance in Gantetsu's normal ending from within Plasma Sword. Of course, it could either be a cosplayer or Ryu's own descendant from within the ending itself.
- City Planet: The said fate of Earth after the events of Plasma Sword. It has been said it was so bad, those wanting a glimpse of nature would have to travel to other planets to experience its beauty again.
- Dramatic Thunder: The Top of the Fourth Empire's Flying Fortress stage of the last battle against Bilstein in the original Star Gladiator.
- Dummied Out: The first game featured a few unused models for combatants, the most of amusing of these being a MS-09B Dom.
- The Empire: The Fourth Empire
- The Federation: The Earth Federation.
- The Force: Plasma Power.
- Laser Blade: Everyone and their mother uses weapons composed of plasma.
- Moveset Clone: Ten of the new characters who were added in the sequel have the exact same moves of the 10 returning characters.
- Multiple Endings: Both games use this particular trope. In Star Gladiator, the player must beat the game from within a specific amount of time in Arcade Mode so that they can go on to fight the True Final Boss of the game or else they'll get a false ending when they defeat Bilstein. In Plasma Sword, whether or not you get enough Battle Ability points from within Arcade Mode determines your character's ending. If they don't have the specific amount of Battle Ability points needed when you get to Stage 8, they get an abridged (false) ending, while defeating the eight opponent and having the specific amount of Battle Ability points grants an extra special battle against each character's True Final Boss, which yields the extended, true conclusion of that person's storyline.
- Whole Plot Reference: To Star Wars, natch. The characters use lightsaber-esque weapons, and Hayato and Blistein are respectively the expy of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, minus the familial ties.
- A Winner Is You: Winning the arcade mode just takes you to a text scroll epilogue that quickly wraps up the plot.
- Zeerust: Not exactly in technology per say, but June's backstory has it, as her Hong Kong was still under British rule. The game was released nearly a year before the official transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong on July 17th, 1997.