Endorphina’s offering sets out to trick you from the very beginning. Approaching this slot I came with a whole load of stereotypical ideas. I expected Roman warriors, grand stadia, horses, chariots of fire, you know the score. And don’t get us wrong, it is heavily inspired by the warriors of that age. On this occasion though, Gladiators’ warriors are fish.
Ooh, I hear you say, what a curveball. Yes, a curveball is an accurate summation. Then again, the gaming industry does have form for this, mixing it up and generally ending up with some questionable takes on popular themes - Booming Games’ Twisted Farmyard my personal favourite.
The gilled gladiators of the sea are ready! Are you?
Ok, hopefully you’re over the initial shock of the slot’s stars being of aquatic persuasion, but hey it’s 2019 and anything goes. Don’t underestimate the skills and abilities of our finned friends, because ultimately they will be all that’s between you and a pot of jack dash (that’s cash, for the Americans).
The action takes place underwater, no surprises there thank God. Set in an arena surrounded by bleacher seating (that’s tiered stone seats, for the Brits) the reels spin to an empty stadium to begin the game, the crowd filtering in afterwards and in relation to your performance.
The theme can feel a little underwhelming at times, maybe a bit more detail would have been nice. A blue hue casts over the screen, really making sure you understand just where you are, and that you’re dealing with fish. In the sea. Underwater. Gladiators!
The soundtrack is good though, bringing some of that epic feel to the show, although the power and grandeur of the music only serves to make the fact the main characters are fish even weirder.
The fight is on, or maybe it’s more of a swim-by-fin-tickle
Alright, we seem like we’ve got issues. I eman, fish are cool, they can be very scary, look at sharks, piranhas, even electric eels are fierce enough. Alas, we have more news on the subjects of the slot. They aren’t mean looking fish, they are not scary or savage and are definitely not epic. They’re tiddlers, minnows, maybe even fish ‘n’ chip fishes. Get ready for some mad fun here, because you just can’t take this one seriously.
Presented over the traditional 5 x 3 with 21 paylines, at least there is something normal about this slot, and actually, beyond the theme the mechanics are fairly standard if not a tad tame. You can activate any number of paylines by making the selection in the bottom right hand corner, you’ll also find the setup controls here for betting amount, autospins and coin value.
Hit spin to start and watch your submerged sidekicks spring into action, bringing you some tidy wins to start. When they do you can gamble it, it’s a risk as these features always are, and it allows you to double your entire winnings - or lose them, so be careful.
All about those pesc-e (sorry) characters
The lower value symbols need a mention, and are found here as the predictable card-inspired symbols, ranging from 10 to Ace. Higher value symbols however, bring a certain excitement to the paytable. Five fish are here to battle it out in the arena, and with them come a range of theme related symbols. All come set against different coloured backgrounds in full suits of armour with helmets, with fish hooks and nets, as well as tridents and axes, one even has a sea horse drawn carriage.
We saved the two special symbols for the end, as they totally deserve the attention. The wild in this game comes in the form of a laurel wreath, substituting all other symbols to form a winning combination, except for the scatter.
Okay, we lied about the lack of a shark for comic effect, there is one. He’s in chains though, totally flipping deep-sea stereotypes on their heads. Endorphina probably had no idea about the semiotic significance of this, which in itself is poetry. This guy is our scatter, awarding free spins depending on how many of these sharks-in-chains show up across the reels. You could be looking at up to 50 free games! Winning gladiator teams are announced after the free spins, and depend on the outcome with cash rewards to be had. Wins are doubled in free mode.
We are feeling a little freaked out by Gladiators if we’re honest, yes it’s an original theme, yes it has some decent payouts, but the features are a little boring, and the theme is just a bit too weird for us. There are the big win chances, and to be honest you don’t care what's on the reels as long as you get a payout, do you? Who are we trying to kid here.
Words: David Bailey-Lauring