[[caption-width-right:350:When terror revives, the battle begins once again.]]

->''One year has passed since the battle with the Fourth Empire. A new level of peace and harmony has spread throughout the world. However, that battle was only a prelude. Now...the war begins.''
-->--OpeningNarration from the arcade intro of ''Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein''

''Star Gladiator Episode I: Final Crusade'' is one of the lesser-known fighting games in Creator/{{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 ''VideoGame/VirtuaFighter'', ''VideoGame/BattleArenaToshinden'', ''VideoGame/{{Tekken}}'', and the ''[[VideoGame/SoulSeries 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 UsefulNotes/PlayStation, similar to the ''VideoGame/StreetFighterEX'' series and the first ''VideoGame/RivalSchools'' game on the same build. ''Star Gladiator'' has a [[ManaMeter 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 [[TheFuture 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 [[TheFederation 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 [[TheForce 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 [[TheEmpire "The Fourth Empire"]] and declaring his [[TakeOverTheWorld personal conquest]] of the [[GalacticConqueror 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 ''Franchise/StarWars'' 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 ''Franchise/StreetFighter'' did with 2D fighters. However, ''Star Gladiator'' did manage to warrant a sequel for the arcades in 1998 and later ported to UsefulNotes/SegaDreamcast in 2000, which was called ''Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein'' ([[OddlyNamedSequel 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) [[MovesetClone 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 [[VideoGame/CapcomVsWhatever various Capcom crossover games]] (''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom2'', ''[[VideoGame/CapcomVsSNKMillenniumFight2000 Capcom vs. SNK]]'', the ''[[VideoGame/SNKVsCapcom SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash]]'' series, ''VideoGame/CapcomFightingEvolution[=/=]Jam'', ''VideoGame/TatsunokoVsCapcom: [[UpdatedRerelease Ultimate All-Stars]]'', ''[[UpdatedRerelease Ultimate]] VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3'', and ''VideoGame/ProjectXZone 2'').

[[Characters/StarGladiator The character sheet for this game can be found here.]]
!!This work provides examples of:
* AmazingTechnicolorBattlefield: The Plasma Vortex stage of the final fight against [[spoiler:Ghost]] Bilstein in the original ''Star Gladiator''.
* TheCameo: [[Franchise/StreetFighter Ryu]] makes a surprising cameo appearance in Gantetsu's true ending from within ''Plasma Sword''. Of course, it could either be a cosplayer or Ryu's own descendant from within the ending itself.
* CityPlanet: 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.
* DramaticThunder: The Top of the Fourth Empire's Flying Fortress stage of the last battle against Bilstein in the original ''Star Gladiator''.
* DummiedOut: The first game featured [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY4tq0uLyM8 a few unused models for combatants,]] the most of amusing of these being a [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam MS-09B Dom]].
* TheEmpire: The Fourth Empire
* TheFederation: The Earth Federation.
* TheForce: Plasma Power.
* LaserBlade: Everyone and their mother uses weapons composed of plasma.
* MovesetClone: Ten of the new characters who were added in the sequel have the exact same moves of the 10 returning characters.
* MultipleEndings: 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 TrueFinalBoss 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 TrueFinalBoss, which yields the extended, true conclusion of that person's storyline.
* WholePlotReference: To ''Franchise/StarWars'', natch. The characters use lightsaber-esque weapons, and Hayato and Blistein are respectively the {{expy}} of [[TheHero Luke Skywalker]] and [[BigBad Darth Vader]], minus the [[LukeIAmYourFather familial ties]].
* AWinnerIsYou: Sort of in the first game. Should you not be able to defeat Bilstein from within a certain time limit in the game, you would end up getting a generic text scroll epilogue that quickly wraps up the plot. However, if you're able to succeed in defeating Bilstein from within a certain amount of time in Arcade Mode, you would then be taken to a TrueFinalBoss fight against [[spoiler:Ghost]] Bilstein and be given a one chance opportunity to defeat [[spoiler:Ghost]] Bilstein and see your chosen character's own true ending.
* {{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.