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Video Game / Colosseum: Road to Freedom

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Colosseum: Road to Freedom is a video game released for the Playstation 2 in 2005. It was developed by Goshow and produced by Koei. It puts the player in the shoes of a slave and gladiator (whose name and origins are determined by the player), and contains Action/RPG elements. While the game's focus is on earning the favor of the crowd to eventually become free, the Protagonist will become entangled in a scheme which has major implications on who will rule Rome.

It has a remixed version called Gladiator: Road to Freedom Remix, which added extra content for Japanese players only and it has a prequel for the Playstation Portable called Gladiator Begins released in 2010.


This video game provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: When the player first meets Commodus, he asks if they believe they can defeat Hercules, to which the player has the option to claim they wont defy the gods. His gladiator equipment is all named after Hercules, and he even wields two clubs and wears a lion helmet, references to the deeds of Hercules. Ursus and Hories also dress as the Egyptian gods Horus and Anubis respectively as well.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: While Narcissus isn't quite a "Villain" and is more "The Rival", his hostility and jealousy meant he would never be friendly. However, the context for his death makes one feel sorry for him: He fought to earn the approval of Marcia, and for his loyalty to her (and by extension Laetus, the true mastermind), he is framed for the assassination of the Emperor and branded as a criminal. He is then executed by the real assassin of the Emperor, the player. His last words are accepting his fate if it is what Marcia wants.
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  • Always Male: No matter what model the player chooses, is always male for the main story.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Laetus and Septimius. Those who are unaware of their historical origins may wonder why they are depicted as darker toned then the other Roman characters. Cut content has the announcer making clear that Laetus and Septimius share the same African origins.
  • An Axe to Grind: Dannaos wields two Axes to deadly effect.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Throughout the game, the player will occasionally be given a choice as to if they wish to participate in certain events or not. However if the player participates in Marcia's scheme, Laetus will inform them that the new Emperor wishes to see them in combat and requests them to participate. The option to agree to it or not is given to the player, however if the player refuses, Laetus and Magerius will remind the player of their station, and ask again. A second refusal will have the player thrown in prison to forcibly participate.
  • Artistic License: The game attempts to be faithful to the final days of Commodus's reign, but there are a few differences the player character is depicted as Commodus's assassin, while Narcissus, who is a gladiator and not the wrestler history knows him for, is framed for it. The game also completely skips over the year of the five emperors, and goes straight to Septimius ascending the throne. And Laetus is portrayed as being Septimius Severus's ally in helping him obtain the throne, when in fact Laetus was executed before Septimius could ascend.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The game tells the story of Commodus's assassination, a real historical event, but instead the fictional player is depicted as his true assassin.
  • Blade on a Stick: Nemesis is the only unique character (unless the player chooses to) who wields a spear.
  • The Caligula: Commodus. He believes himself to be Hercules and appeals to the crowds with gladiator games. And while he fancies himself a gladiator, if he loses a fight, he immediately resorts to calling guards.
  • Character Customization: The game allows you to pick between 3 character models (2 extra in the Japan only Remix version), your career previous to being a gladiator, and which Roman god you believe in (if at all), and these choices effect your characters beginning stats. Clearing the game once will unlock a few more options.
  • The Chess Master: Laetus used Marcia who used Narcissus and the player in a plan to assassinate Commodus and install his ally Septimius on the throne.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Narcissus. The player character only meets him after Marcia begins showing interest in them and from the outset Narcissus is extremely confrontational and hostile. Marcia was going to involve him in the scheme but changed her mind afterwords, and its implied he has feelings for her.
  • Dark Skinned Red Head: Spiculus underneath his platinum helmet possesses red hair.
  • Dual Wielding: Ursus, Hories, Commodus and Dannaos all dual wield their weapons, and the player also has the option.
  • Elite Mook: Executioners. Usually if the player encounters these muscular guards, they are about to be executed, but should the player kill at least 10 guards after doing something illegal, they will be given the opportunity to redeem themselves by fighting two Executioners alongside other gladiators. These guards, while extremely dangerous, are not remarkable for anything but their muscularity and hardiness, which can be used against the two guards if the player is smart.
  • The Emperor: Commodus, and later Septimius.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The gladiator fight with Commodus. In order to progress through the story, the player must lose to him after giving him a decent fight. Defeating him means entering a Hopeless Boss Fight with over 100 Mooks, losing to him without even trying will result in a Public Execution. Even worse, despite the game requiring this loss, the player will suffer the same consequences as if they were defeated by normal gladiators, but the story will still progress at least.
  • Final Boss: Laetus is revealed to be the one behind what was seemingly Marcia's scheme and is the final boss of the game, and he will kill the player if they lose to him in the final battle, even if the player accepts his wager. That is of course if the player chooses to participate in the plot.
  • Frame-Up: The player character is the one who assassinates Commodus, but Narcissus gets framed for the act.
  • Gladiator Games: The entire point of the game is to experience the life of a Gladiator.
  • Glass Cannon: Ursus, Hories & Spiculus are all agile and powerful characters whos defenses are lacking.
  • The Grim Reaper: Dannaos dressed in all black wearing a helmet with skull designs is clearly designed to look like the personification of death. Cut dialogue from the announcer confirms Dannaos is supposed to be dressed as Charon, a deity associated with death in Greek Mythology.
  • Historical Domain Character: Commodus, Marcia, Narcissus, Laetus, and Septimius Severus.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: If the player does anything illegal, or angers certain Roman elites they meet throughout the story, guards will be called, and they wont stop coming until the player dies or kills 100 of them. They will get progressively more well armed and more aggressive, and while the game does possess an ending should the player succeed in killing 100 of them, an ordinary player will most likely be killed.
  • Jerkass: Gnaeus (at first) and Narcissus. Gnaeus treats the player with mockery, hitting the player with thrown wooden gladius, claiming that a beating is the only way to teach them. As the player ranks up Gnaeus will soften up and show more respect. Narcissus displays nothing but contempt due to having to compete with the player for Marcia's attention.
  • Lady in Red: Marcia. As the mistress of the Emperor she knows how to lay on the charm to get the player character involved in her scheme.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Dannaos has tremendous strength, speed and toughness despite wearing no armor at all. Laetus possesses a near equal amount of strength and speed, and unlike Dannaos, he wears armor.
  • Made a Slave: As a gladiator the player character will be enslaved for the entire game unless they can free earn enough to free themselves.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Both Marcia and Laetus qualify. Laetus set the scheme in motion, Marcia lures both Narcissus and the player into the plan, and Narcissus is framed and killed and the player character is also rewarded with the threat of death by Laetus while Marcia abandons the player once Commodus is killed.
  • Mighty Glacier: Flamma and Sextus who both wield large shields, are both very strong and durable opponents.
  • Praetorian Guard: Laetus is actually the Prefect of the Praetorian Guard.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Sextus, as a non-Roman is implied to be this, although even more so in Gladiator Begins.
  • Public Execution: This is the players fate if Commodus defeats them too easily. Narcissus is essentially publicly executed, being thrown into the arena stripped of his equipment, and at the players hand no less.
  • The Quiet One: The player character will only ever speak when spoken to, and only in very short sentences.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: The real Emperor Commodus was indeed assassinated, but was said to have been strangled after attempted poisoning by the wrestler Narcissus. Here, Narcissus is a gladiator, and Commodus is killed by the player and Narcissus is framed.
  • The Rival: Narcissus. The player has to fight him three times in the game, and every encounter with him, he is hostile and jealous of the attention Marcia showers on the player. Laetus later points out that Narcissus and the player are Not So Different and the only reason for what happens to Narcissus later on was due to the players popularity as a gladiator.
  • Sai Guy: The dual weapons Ursus wields look very much like Sais.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Nemesis was the only female gladiator in the original game. The Japanese only remixed version adds a few more female gladiators, but they cannot be encountered in the main story, only in the Battle Arena mode.
  • Slave Market: The story begins at Largus's desert arena, which is a place where he has his slaves battle to attract buyers. The player can return to this area to purchase slaves themselves, if they can free themselves before the games timelimit.
  • Sore Loser: Commodus. Should the player go against Marcia's warning and actually defeat him, Commodus will become angered and call his guards to kill the player.
  • Stout Strength: Flamma. He is very powerful and overweight, but his armor slows him down. If his armor gets stripped though he becomes Acrofatic, and more dangerous due to his increased speed, and the difference in his mobility can be jarring.
  • Sword & Sandal: This game is set in Ancient Rome, during the reign of the Emperor Commodus.
  • Timed Mission: Unbeknownst to anyone just starting the main story, the entire game is essentially a timed mission. By day 50, no matter what the player has done, or how well or how poorly they fought, the game will come to an end with a final gladator bout, but what that final battle will turn out to be is dependant on the player. If the player has improperly trained their gladiator, this aspect of the game can make the final battle even harder then it should be.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The player character. Not once does the player character seem to contemplate the consequences their actions and willingly assassinates an Emperor, only to be abandoned by Marcia to Laetus, who intends to kill him in gladiatorial combat.

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