Gladiators by Gottlieb/Premier

Well, here it is. Just as I'm posting it I realized I didn't put in a section on game quotes, but none of the quotes are particularly funny. The game just tells you what to do ("shoot the ramp", "shoot the spinner", "one more for multi", "shoot the ball" if you don't plunge the ball within about 10 seconds, "make the right choice" for the weapon choice, and "shoot again" if you activate the ball saver) and what you've done ("jackpot", "super/ultimate jackpot", "50 million" for hitting the catapult saucer near the end of a timed catapult round, "next round 2 x" when this is awarded, and all the mode names.) There are probably a couple more that I've left out.

Playfield Layout:

Various things divide the playfield into an upper and lower half, and I think that's a convenient way to describe it. Across the top we have:

The M ramp.
At the far left side of the machine, the entrance to the M ramp is just below the upper half of the playfield. The M ramp is the first of 5 shots needed to spell MULTI. Hitting this ramp results in the ball coming down into the upper playfield through a habitrail "crane". Sometimes this moves back and forth, but other times it is still, and when it is still, sometimes the ball will drop into a saucer (which I will call the attack or catapult saucer.)

The loop.
To the right of the M ramp is a loop. If the ball is hit hard enough into one side of the loop it will come out of the other side. The left side of the loop is the U shot, while the right side is the L shot. The crane swings back and forth above these two shots, and the catapult saucer is right in front of the post separating the U and L shots. There are also 2 upper flippers. The right flipper is situated to hit the L shot, while the left flipper lies parallel with the left side of the U shot, thus, you can't normally use it to hit the U shot. The U shot tends to be reachable from the lower right flipper, but not from the lower left flipper because the upper left flipper doesn't get down fast enough to allow such a shot. I've also managed to hit this shot from the upper right flipper.

The T ramp.
To the right of that other stuff is a curved ramp which exits via a habitrail that send the ball flying directly down toward the lower flippers. Similar to the way the ball comes out of the raptor pit on Jurassic Park, except that the T ramp never sends the ball SDTM. The entrance to the T ramp faces toward the upper left flipper, and in general this is the only way to hit the ball up this ramp hard enough to make it go all the way around. The upper right flipper lies parallel with the bottom edge of the entrance to the T ramp.

The bumpers.
Just above the entrance to the T ramp is the entrance to an enclosed area containing 3 pop bumpers. This is also the only exit from this area, although the skill shot and the I shot feed to the mystery saucer just above these bumpers, which kicks the ball out into the bumpers.

The I shot.
At the right side of the playfield is the entrance to the I shot. This is a long lane (not a ramp -- it is level with the rest of the playfield) which contains a spinner, and leads to the mystery saucer. Before the spinner there is a path to the left which leads to the abyss saucer, and a funny, bouncy attempt at the I shot will sometimes send the ball there. If the I is not lit for spelling MULTI, usually the saucer will be lit for a mystery award. The plunger sends the ball into this lane at a point above the spinner.

The abyss saucer.
This saucer is located below the upper right flipper. It can also be reached from the I lane, as described above. Since the upper right flipper doesn't "close" all the way, an errant attempt at shooting the T ramp can instead pin the ball between the upper right flipper and the piece of the playfield below it, and raising the right flipper allows the ball to fall into the abyss. The abyss kicks the ball up into a habitrail that leads down to the lower playfield.

The catapult saucer.
The saucer is just in front of the post separating the U and L shots. It is "open", meaning that there is no shield which intends to hold the ball here when it passes by, so many attempts to hit the saucer either fly past it, or bounce off the post. This saucer kicks the ball out down and to the right, so that it lands on the upper right flipper. If that flipper is raised, the ball may go below the flipper into the abyss, it may hit the flipper and go back to the catapult or just bounce away somewhere, or it may go _above_ the right flipper anyway.

MB target.
At the left side of the lower playfield, below the entrance to the M ramp, is the MB target. Hitting this target lights 3 lights in front of it, labeled "1", "2", "Light MB". When MB is lit the next mode will be 2-ball multiball instead of 15-seconds timed, and will end when one ball drains.

Drop targets O'death.
To the right of the entrance to the U and L shots is a set of 3 drop targets. (They are in front of a playfield piece that partially surrounds the abyss saucer.) The left target advances a series of 5 blue lights, and the right target advances a series of 5 yellow lights. These lights are also advanced by hitting the slingshots. When the lights are at the same level, the attack mode starts. Direct hits on these drop targets from the lower flippers tend to send the ball SDTM, thus my name for them.

Mode saucer.
Above the right inlane is another saucer. Unlike the catapult saucer, this one is designed to try to catch the ball when it gets near. Unless you're already in a mode or multiball, hitting the mode saucer starts the next mode (pyramid round). This saucer kicks the ball out into the right inlane.

The slingshots are smaller than usual, but in the normal place. The piece of the slingshot that kicks the ball is larger than normal. Hitting either slingshot advances one set of the attack lights (see drop targets o'death)

There is a fairly normal looking set of inlanes and outlanes, except that the inlanes have little gates at the top that prevent the ball from going out through the top of the inlanes, so that it can't roll out into the outlane. This looks to me to be a design change just to keep the ball from rolling over into the outlane; can anybody tell me if the beta games had these?

Below the outlanes, on the panels containing the rule card, are two sets of LEDs which keep spell WEAPON and DOUBLE. These carry over from ball to ball, and game to game.

Finally, the play of the game!

The skill shot gives you a choice of three options, shown by three lights in the plunger lane. The ball goes into the I lane and around to the mystery saucer. The ball must stop in the mystery saucer to be awarded the skill shot. On the machine I play, a full strength plunge is too strong, and the ball bounces back out of the saucer and down the I lane, while a 3/4 strength shot works fine.

Skill shot choices:

  • Advance weapon - advances one letter in WEAPON, lighting the weapon shot at the abyss if this completes WEAPON.
  • Advance multi - advances one letter in MULTI, locking the ball and starting multiball if this completes MULTI.
  • Start round - starts the next pyramid round.

There is a ball saver which lasts about 10 seconds at the beginning of each ball. If the ball saver is activated, you don't get a skill shot on the new plunge.


There are 5 labeled shots that spell MULTI (as described above). At the beginning of the game the M shot is lit, and hitting it will light the U, etc. Hitting the lit I shot lights the mystery saucer for multiball, and since the I lane leads to the mystery saucer, a good I shot starts multiball. The spinner itself is the I shot, so it is possible to light the lock without locking the ball - this is generally a bad thing, since you still need a good I shot to start multiball, and the lit lock goes away when the ball drains, leaving you to start over at M again.

During multiball, the object is to first hit the M ramp for a jackpot worth 20 million. The ball will be held while you try to send the second ball up the M ramp for another 20 million. If you take too long, the first ball will be released again, and you can continue to try for jackpots on the M ramp. If you succeed in getting both balls locked at the top of the M ramp, they will then be released from the crane directly to the upper left flipper. If you send one ball up the T ramp, and it goes all the way around, this scores a super jackpot of 100 million. If you also manage to send the second ball up the T ramp, it scores an ultimate jackpot of 200 million. These last two jackpots are timed, so you will only get a couple of chances at them. After all but one ball drains, multiball ends and the MULTI lights are reset. Normally the MULTI lights stay on after the shots are hit, but after the second multiball, the lights go back one step if you don't hit the next one within about 10-15 seconds, making it much harder to get multiball.

Pyramid rounds:

Hitting "start round" on the skill shot, getting awarded "start round" by the mystery shot, or putting the ball in the mode saucer when you are not already in a pyramid round or multiball will start the next round on the pyramid. There are six rounds in three rows: rain of terror, catapult, and fire and ice on the bottom row, cataclysm and blade fight on the middle row, and calm before the storm at the top. Initially rain of terror is flashing, but the pop bumpers change the flashing round among the uncompleted ones at the current row. While in a pyramid round, you can't add MULTI or WEAPON letters, but you can use almost all the other features: combo shots, attack mode, abyss shots, and adding DOUBLE letters. Each of the first 5 rounds normally lasts for 15 seconds, but if MB has been lit (by hitting the MB target 3 times) then a multiball is started, and the round lasts until 1 ball drains. Calm before the storm is always a multiball. After calm before the storm ends, the entire pyramid flashes. The next round is the beast challenge, described below.

The rounds:

Rain of terror.
The abyss is lit for 5 million points, and the pop bumpers are worth 500,000 per hit (normally they're worth about 10 points).

The M ramp is worth 2 or 3 million points. The crane i swinging back and forth, and if by some miracle the ball lands in the catapult saucer, you score 50 million points. The 50 million can also be scored by hitting the ball into the saucer without going through the M ramp, and it can be scored more than once. Each catapult saucer shot also advances DOUBLE, unless it's already complete. (This saucer normally advances DOUBLE at any time.)

Fire and ice.
The M, U, L, and T shots are lit, and each one hit scores 3 million. Hitting all 4 before time runs out scores a 30 million bonus, and relights the shots.

Starting this mode adds 5 million to your cataclysm bonus. Two of the 5 MULTI shots will be lit. Each lit shot adds 5 million to the cataclysm bonus. After each 5 seconds, the lit shots change. The cataclysm bonus is cumulative throughout the game, and is added to your score in the bonus at the end of each ball.

Each time you clear the 3 drop targets you score 5 million points.

Calm before the storm.
If this mode is started from the mode saucer, it will be a 3 ball multiball, and the first plunged ball will be locked in the mystery saucer before the balls are released. If the mode is started from the skill shot or mystery "start round" award, it is only a 2 ball multiball. The mega-bonus starts at 30 million, and each time one of the MULTI shots is hit, 3 million is added to the mega-bonus. Like all multiballs, calm before the storm ends when only one ball is left in play. The mega-bonus is awarded after each successful beast shot in beast challenge, and is added to your score at the end of the game if you played calm before the storm at least once.

Beast challenge.
There is a 3-headed flying beast attacking you, and you need to hit 3 hard shots in order to chop off its 3 heads. The first shot is the mystery saucer, the second is the abyss, and the third is the catapult saucer. Each shot adds your mega-bonus to your score. If you hit all 3 shots you have killed the beast. After your mega-bonus counts down, you get to enter your initials (during the middle of the game!) as a beast slayer, and a SPECIAL is awarded. The round ends, and the pyramid is cleared, so you start over with rain of terror, etc. If the ball drains, the round ends, and only the top 3 modes on the pyramid are cleared. I don't know if lighting MB will give you a 2-ball beast challenge or not.

Attack mode:

Each hit of the left drop target or left slingshot advances the blue light one position in a set of 5 lights. The right drop target and right slingshot similarly advance the yellow lights. When the lit blue and yellow lights are side by side, the "attack" mode begins. As you would expect, this happens quite often. In the attack mode, the M ramp is worth 3 million, and it locks the ball. Pressing a flipper releases the ball through the crane (which is swinging back and forth), and a carefully timed release will drop the ball into the catapult saucer for 30 million. The 30 million can also be scored by simply hitting the saucer without going through the M ramp. The mode ends when the 30 million is collected, or after a timer (I think 15 seconds) expires.


Each hit of the catapult saucer advances the DOUBLE lights. When DOUBLE is completed, then "everything doubled" is lit, and all scoring for the rest of the ball is doubled. Extra balls are also doubled, and perhaps the special from beast challenge would also be doubled.


Dropping the ball into the abyss adds 1 abyss shot. For every 2 abyss shots, the next-round multiplier is advanced - the game says "next round 2 x." (or 3x if you advance it twice before playing a round.) All the scoring in the next pyramid round will be doubled. If "everything doubled" is also lit, you can actually get 4x or 6x during a round. Some HUGE catapult scores can be made this way.


The U and L shots light alternately to advance WEAPON. When WEAPON is completed, the weapon shot is lit at the abyss. When the weapon shot is hit, a menu of choices appears. The first time the choices are multiball (the same as if you completed MULTI), 10 million points, or cataclysm (the same as if you started cataclysm round from the mode saucer or the skill shot - if you had not already completed cataclysm then it is lit on the pyramid). The second and third times the options are "? score", 30 million, or "? feature". I don't know what the ? feature is; I've chosen it and nothing happened except for the next round 2 x from hitting an abyss shot.

Combo shots:

If no combo shot was lit, then hitting any of the MULTI shots lights another one (which should be reachable after the first shot) as a combo shot. Hitting the combo shot adds one to your combo shot total, and scores 500,000 points, and lights another combo shot. Hitting consecutive combo shots doubles the point bonus for each shot, so it is possible to get a 16 million point combo shot, or maybe better - I don't know what the limit is on this doubling. A certain number of total combo shots for the game awards an extra ball. The factory default is 26, but this is too high and auto-adjusts to values around 11 to 17. After this, a 50 million point bonus is awarded for getting twice that many combo shots, and finally 70 million is awarded at 90 combo shots (this number does not vary).

Mystery saucer:

Usually, if you're not in a round or multiball, and the I shot is not lit, then the mystery saucer will be lit for a mystery award. Awards I've seen include "Start round", "next round 2x", "start multiball", point values such as 1 million, 5 million, "hurry-up extra ball" (at the abyss), "hurry- up special" (at the T ramp), and ZERO. ZERO usually comes up if you're already doing quite well in the game.

M-T extra ball:

There are sets of LEDs over the entrance to the M ramp and behind the T ramp that track how many times you've hit them in this ball. If you hit each one 4 times in the same ball then an extra ball is lit at the abyss.


Sometimes the spinner lights for acu-spin. When the ball goes through the spinner the total number of spins and the acu-spin number is displayed. If the spinner stops after exactly the right number of spins, then an extra ball is awarded. If it doesn't make enough spins, you can hit it again to try to get the right number of spins. The only time I actually managed to get this extra ball was a weak I shot, which gave about 3 more spins when it came back down, making the right number of spins.

Outlane bonus:

When a ball goes out one of the outlanes a mystery point bonus is awarded. I've seen 500,000, 1 million, 2M, 3M, 4M, 5M, 10M, 20M, and 50M.


There is an extra ball buy-in for 1 quarter/token/whatever coin. Unlike earlier games with an extra-ball buy-in, you cannot use credits for the buy-in. The game I play costs 50 cents per credit, but only a quarter for the buy in. Also, the buy-in is offered more than once - I know it's offered at least three times, but if you get into the top 5 scores, you must end your game and enter initials.

At the end of the game, the DOUBLE letters are advanced once. If this completes DOUBLE, then your score for the entire game is doubled. However, if this doubling would give you a replay, or put your score into the high score list, then it will not advance DOUBLE.

If the ball is in the pop bumpers, you can get it out by holding both flippers - this turns off the bumpers. This is a good idea when a timed round has just started, and you can also hold the next round this way, if, for example, you have 2x or 3x next round lit, and you want the next round to be catapult.

Sometimes, the game will get confused, and the display will go blank for a few seconds, and when it returns it will be scrambled. The text is usually in German, and the score is either not displayed at all, or is jumbled. After a while, or at the end of the ball, the display will usually return to normal, although it once happened to me on my last ball and the extra ball buy-in screen was asking me to insert 1 mark for an extra ball. (Seriously!) This tends to happen after a game has gone on for a while, so you're usually just noticing that the game is going well when it happens. It seems (from discussion on rgp) that all Gladiators games do this.

If there's anything I left out let me know.

Editor's Notes

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