(1) Some terms I use
(2) Some general tips
(3) First Stage
(4) Second Stage
(5) Third Stage
(6) Fourth Stage
(7) Some factoids and gratuitous self gratification
(8) Some notes about playing via emulation i.e. Mame

***(1) Some terms I use***

This game was the favorite pastime for several of us for a whole
lot of years, and we've developed a whole lingo to go with it.
Some of the terms are not exactly PC, and I've substituted more
appropriate versions in this FAQ.  Here are some terms I use
to describe certain elements of the game.

"Chance Stages" are the side scrolling walks you take through
the castle being assaulted by all kinds of traps in between
combat with the foes guarding the Treasure Place.

"Rolling Pins" are cylinders made of stone which roll toward
the player in chance stages during stage 2 and 3

"Hyper" or "Hyperactive" ((Spaceballs! ^_^)) Refers to a method
of battle with combatants.  It basically involves attacking
with your weapon in one direction constantly, while rapidly
moving your shield to intercept their attacks as best you

"Freeze", "Freeze up", etc... This means an opponent in combat
will stop attacking, or defending, or both.  This may occur
for a period of time, or the enemy may never unfreeze.  This
depends upon the opponent and is described in the section
with them.

***(2) Some General Tips***

During chance stages, you are presented with many opportunities
to increase your combat ability in upcoming fights.  Learn to
take advantage of these stages, and you will advance rapidly.

First, you receive more points for destroying a trap
(Throwing star, fireball, sword, brick, etc...)
With your sword than you do for letting it bounce off your
shield.  Since (on most machines) you earn an extra man at every
100,000 points, this is important.  Get as many points as you
can and you'll have more chances to beat an elusive enemy.

Second, you can create a magical barrier called the "Electric
Shield" by rapidly moving the joystick up and down during
chance stages.  This flashing barrier of light appears before
your character when the move is successful.  For a few seconds,
you are completely invulnerable to harm from the traps of the
chance stage.  This shield destroys everything it touches.
You do not get ANY points for this however, and I discourage
it's use in anything but the most desperate situations.

You will not immediately die from being hit by an enemy's weapon
or a trap.  The first shot will always cause one piece of your
armor to come off and roll away offscreen.  If anything hits in
that un-armored area, you're dead!  So guard a body part that is
missing it's armor well!

You begin the game with the Iron Shield.  This shield will flash
when hit by enemy attacks or traps.  As it is hit, it sustains
damage.  After a few hits, it will crumble a bit and offer a more
narrow range of defense.  After a few more hits, it crumbles into
something about the size of a large beer mug, and offers very
little in the way of defense.  Another very good reason to destroy
all the traps with your weapon.  I also have never been able to
conjure the Electric Shield when the Iron Shield has been reduced
to it's "beer mug" state.

At points during the chance stages, green bats will fly over
carrying shields.  These are the all-important Gold Shields.
Whack them out of the bats claws with a sword shot high to
send them to the floor.  Then, when the Shield is below your
character onscreen, press and hold down to make the Gladiator
bend down and pick up the Shield.  The Gold Shield takes NO
damage from anything, even the most powerful opponents sword
blows.  It therefore will always have the most wide range
of defensive area.  Grab these shields for the points even
when you already possess one, however.

Swords are thrown at your character in the chance stages.
Knock these down with sword or shield and they will land
on the floor.  Bend down by pressing and holding down, and
the Gladiator will pick up these swords.  If you can pick up
four of these swords in a single chance stage, you will acquire
"The Red Sword".  The Red Sword is a magical effect which is
attached to your weapon.  While in combat with the guardians
of the castle this magic comes into effect.  Once you have hit
your opponents shield a certain number of times, The Red Sword
will discharge it's magical power.  This power makes you
invulnerable for a few seconds, but more importantly, replaces
any armor plates you have lost up to that point.

During chance stages, crystal balls will occasionally hover
into view at the top of the screen.  These stay onscreen for
a few moments, then drift away.  If you hit one of these with
your weapon, it shatters and destroys everything onscreen at
that moment.  More importantly, it replaces any armor plates
you may have lost up to that point.

Don't ignore those green bats!  First off, they are worth points
when you whack them with your sword.  Second, if they find an
un-armored part of your body, they can kill you!  If you still have
armor over the body part they touch, they can't knock it off, but
if it's un-armored, they sink in their poisonous fangs and suck your
life away.

When in battle, you receive points for every chunk of armor you
knock off your opponent, so don't hesitate to whack off as much
of your opponent's protection as you can before you finish them.

***(3) First Stage***

Chance Stage 1:  There is nothing really special about this chance
stage.  Attempt to hit everything you can with your sword to earn
more points toward extra men.  You can acquire the Gold Shield in
this chance stage, as well as the Red Sword.  There is a crystal
ball in this stage.

Solon Fight 1,2:  Solon is a poor fighter.  He has a very easy to
predict pattern which makes him fairly easy to defeat.  He'll begin
by swinging his sword straight at you.  After a few shots, he'll
start to swing high.  Then a few more and he'll swing low... you
get the picture.  Just charge right in as soon as you approach
this battle with your shield and sword both straight.  Once you
get within range of him, swing a shot high.  Then swing a shot
low, then swing a shot high, repeat.  You should strip off some
armor for points and kill him with just a few shots before he
switches to the swing high.  If not, just switch your shield
high to block and keep the pattern up.  You need to dance back
and forth a bit to make your shots connect, but you'll soon find
that you can defeat Solon on even expert setting with your eyes

Solon Fight 3:  Solon doesn't learn much from two nasty defeats.
He starts out swinging high this time, but then goes middle and
low in predictable pattern.  After he finishes his burst of low
shots, he becomes less predictable.  However, he should be long
dead before this happens.  Use the exact same pattern as before,
but if you want to play it safe, block all his high shots and
start attacking when he switches to straight shots.

Irene:  Irene is a much more dangerous opponent than Solon, but
she still has a predictable pattern you can exploit to defeat
her.  There are two ways to finish off this female warrior.  The
first is to keep your Shield high and your Sword straight.  Shortly
after her shield breaks fully down, her sword will break under
the strain of your stronger weapon.  She is now completely helpless
and you can enjoy the fun of carefully stripping her armor off
chunk by chunk as she futily swings at you.  You can strip her
down to nothing but a bikini (that green chain mail will come off)
if you place your shots carefully.  Nice place to earn quite
a few bonus points.  The second method I recommend if you are
missing either your chestplate or your codpiece when you reach
the battle with Irene.  She takes great delight in seeing your
chest or your Purple bikini briefs, and wants nothing more to
shove her sword in a sensitive portion of your anatomy.  In fact,
if she knocks one of these two pieces of armor off in battle, she
will jump up and down and giggle (good time to stick a sword in
her laughing rear if you're close enough)  It's safer then to
keep your sword and shield both low until her shield breaks
down.  Then, start shooting high to kill her.  She'll most often
keep aiming for your shield, and you should be relatively safe.
Always be on the lookout for that rare shot she throws straight
when doing this, and be prepared to let your shield slide up to
cover for a few seconds before dropping back into pattern.

Note:  Depending upon what portion of Irene's anatomy you stuck
your final sword blow, she will either fall flat to the floor or
to her knees.  If she falls to her knees she will turn and offer
up her sword (even if you broke it ^_^) to the warrior who
defeated her.  This is just a matter of animation, because you
can bend down and pick up her sword regardless of whether she
offers it.  It's no better or worse than your sword, so grab
it for the points.

Chance Stage 2:  Just before, and just after the second crystal
ball in this stage (only one will appear if you die during this
chance stage or in battle against the next foe in line and have
to replay this chance stage) there are sets of grey throwing
stars which whizz in from the upper right portion of the screen.
If you hit these with your sword, the will fall to the ground in
the form of glowing whirlpools.  When you walk over these
whirlpools, you'll obtain bonus points.  If you hit the crystal
ball before walking over the whirlpools, you'll lose the bonus
points.  You must be close to the right side of the screen in
order to hit these throwing stars with your sword, so you'll
have to charge a bit.  You can obtain the Gold Shield in this
stage, but not enough swords are thrown to get you the Red Sword.

Fire Demon:  This guy can be dangerous if you don't know his
secret.... He's a coward.  If you rush forward rapidly with
your shield straight and your sword high (block if necessary)
and begin to rapidly pound on his shield, he'll freeze up.
This allows you to calmly break his shield down to a crumpled
useless lump.  Then dance back and forth a bit to wake him up
and he'll come out of his stupor and realize he's going to die
if he doesn't do something.  He'll unfreeze and start spitting
fireballs at you again.  Just block with your shield and keep
swinging high.  He'll eventually lean right into one of your

***(4) Second Stage***

Chance Stage 1:  Nothing special about this stage, there is
a crystal ball, and you can acquire the Red Sword sometimes
here (the more times you get hit, the more likely it is
enough swords will be thrown to grant the red sword... at
least that's how it seems to work to me..)

Zaid fight 1:  Zaid is big and slow.  You can either get
in close and just try to wax him, or you can stand back and
match his every sword thrust with your own to break his
sword.  This is what I usually do, as it allows you to
earn some bonus points by stripping off all his armor once
his sword is broken.

Zaid fight 2,3:  His first defeat seems to have knocked
what little brains Zaid had right out of that enormous head
of his.  As soon as he appears, just have your shield
straight and your sword high.  The big dumb brute will
charge straight in and keep whacking your shield forever
if you let him.  Start aiming high and eventually you'll
either kill him, or break his sword.  If you're quick, you
can also charge in quickly with your sword and shield both
straight and quickly whip off a couple of high shots that
will kill him before he even realizes he's in battle.  If
you break Zaid's sword in these fights, he will freeze up
and only move his shield.  This will prevent you from
removing more than a couple of pieces of armor.

Black Mace Giant:  This foe is dangerous, especially on
the higher difficulty settings.  He picks his shots with
care and moves his shield rapidly to intercept your cuts.
He does however have a few weaknesses...  If you start
swinging your sword straight when he first comes out,
he'll concentrate most of his shots there.  This allows
you to push him back a bit by hitting both his sword
and shield at the same time.  Match his shots as best
you can (or just keep swinging straight) and break off
his mace.  Beware, if you miss hitting his mace a few
shots, he will occasionally charge and start to swing
rapidly at you for a few seconds.  If he does this,
hit straight as fast as you can and block with your
shield until he backs off a bit.  Every so often this
immense enemy will raise his mace and laugh at the puny
creature confronting him.  A quick run up and two
straight stabs will often remove his codpiece and teach
him the folly of laughing at a foe in battle ^_^

Note:  If you manage to knock off his codpiece and then
finish him by stabbing him in that rather sensitive
portion of his anatomy, he will do a little dance and
land on his knees after he dies.  It takes more than
one mortal wound to finish this mountain of a man, so
as the Gladiator walks past him, he stabs him once
more to finish him off.  Bend down and you can pick
up his mace either before or after you finish him off.
Time this carefully, or the final stab may cause him
to get too far behind you to pick up the mace.... And
you defiantly want that mace.  It has a greater range
than the sword, and is at least twice as strong.
An enemy's shield will vanish in only a few shots
under the assault of this powerful weapon.  It also
pushes your enemies farther away than the sword when it hits.

Chance stage 2:  You can acquire the Gold Shield in this
stage, and there is a crystal ball.  Near the end of this
stage a rolling pin will come out.  Keep your shield pressed
down and walk forward as you are doing it.  Whack away with
your weapon low to destroy this trap.  If your shield slips
up for too long, or you get too far to the back of the screen,
this trap will roll over you and crush you like a grape.

Amazon Archer:  This un-armored foe isn't that difficult to
dispatch.  Just charge forward blocking her arrows with
your shield (there is a pattern to the first several shots
you can discern, 2 high, then 2 low, then one straight) and
once you get right up in her face, start whacking at her
with your weapon high.  The moment she moves her bow down
to take a shot anywhere but high, you'll dispatch her.  Just
keep your shield moving and she should be no problem.

***(5) Third Stage***

Chance stage 1:  You can acquire the Red Sword and the Gold
Shield in this stage.  If you bend down and pick up one
of the swords while you are carrying the mace, you lose the
mace!  So if you want to keep this strong weapon, don't pick
up the swords!  There is a crystal ball to replenish your
armor.  A cute little quirk about this stage is you can quite
nearly bypass it entirely.  If you look in the background,
you will see there are ledges running along the edge of the
pathway you are on.  If you time it right, you can press up
and jump up onto these ledges.  While you are walking on the
ledges, nothing hits you.  You can jump over the gaps by
pressing up.  You don't get the chance to get any points or
any of the useful items if you do this, however.  This stage
also brings your first encounter with "Sonics".  These traps
are beams of energy of varying lengths which travel at you
with a high pitched squeal.  If move forward too much, or
swing your sword too much, while blocking these with your
shield part of the sonic will get through and remove a
chunk of your armor.  It's even possible for a single Sonic
to finish you if you really mess up and it's long enough.
Concentrate on blocking with your shield and don't swing
your weapon unless absolutely necessary.

Green Knight 1,2:  The first two fights with the Green Knight
are not that difficult.  Just swing your sword high as soon
as he appears and keep your shield straight.  He'll obediently
whack on your shield while you destroy his and eventually
penetrate his guard to finish him.  Occasionally, he can
penetrate your guard as well, so swing fast to keep him back
off you!  This doesn't happen very often if you are equipped
with the mace.  I've also never seen a Green Knight's Axe
break, so don't bother trying.

Green Knight 3:  This foe is a bit more dangerous.  He's
learned from his mistakes and swings in a random fashion
at you... quickly.  The preferred method to dispatch him
is to keep sword and shield both straight after defeating
the second Green Knight and charge the third to cut him down
with two quick stabs up.  If this doesn't work, you'll have
to go Hyperactive and aim high to hopefully finish him off.
There is an alternative, but it doesn't work every time.  Just
back off and randomly swing your sword and move your shield
without closing into his range.  Sometimes, he will become
dazed by this display of swordsmanship and freeze up.  When
he does this, you can waltz in and dispatch him with ease.
This enemy is tricky however, and will occasionally fake a
freeze to lull you in close.  Make sure you swing your
weapon about four times before you decide he's actually

Red Knight:  This foe is worthy of your attention even on
the lowest difficulty settings.  He swings with remarkable
speed, and fakes swings to make you move your shield to the
wrong place before whacking you with a well place shot.
I usually meet him with shield high and sword straight.  This
helps keep him off you until you have broken down his shield.
Once his shield has broken down, switch into hyperactive and
aim high.  You should eventually stab him in an armpit and
finish him.  If you move your shield rapidly enough, his
fake swings will work against him.  He'll fake a swing, but
discover your shield has moved to where he was going to aim.
Then he fakes another swing, with the same result.  This can
keep him confused enough he doesn't get off too many shots
while you're whacking away at him.  You cannot break his
mace to the best of my knowledge, and you cannot pick it
up after battle.

Chance stage 2:  There is no crystal ball in this stage, so
you're going to be missing any armor you lost along the way.
You can acquire the Gold Shield in this stage, but remember
to watch yourself around those sonics.  At the end of this
chance stage there are two more rolling pins.

Agathon:  There are two methods to dispatch this dangerous
two-swordsman.  The first is to stay back and break his sword.
You cannot break swords with the mace (why, I don't know since
it's so much stronger than the sword), so if you have it, you
need to use the second method.  The second method is to get
your sword high immediately after passing the second rolling
pin.  Then charge like mad when Agathon appears and hit high
as fast as you can.  This will often finish him before he
has a chance to kill you with that long extending sword of
his.  Alternatively, you can go into Hyperactive while aiming
high to defeat him, but the odds aren't good with that long
blade of his.

Note:  If you break his sword, try to get his helmet off
before you kill him.  His eyes bug out of his head in a huge
way when you deal him a death blow ^_^

***(6) Fourth Stage***

Chance stage:  Short bursts of sonics come at you rapid-fire, and
the background itself becomes a threat in the form of asteroids
that whirl from space to hit you.  Besides this, there are no
beneficial items or powers of any kind in this stage, so keep
your guard up!

Mordred: (This is what we called him, I never saw an official
name printed anywhere) The Gold Knight Mordred is deadly.  He's
fast, smart, and has a knack for getting under your guard. Use
the same method you used to defeat the Red Knight in the
previous stage.  Shield high, sword straight until his shield
is gone.  Then go into hyperactive and whack at him high.  With
luck, you'll kill him.  Don't waste your time trying to break
his sword, it will not work.

The Gold Knight will slid back to the edge of the screen when
you defeat him.... but beware.... The final guardian of the
Treasure Place has one dreadful power left to use.  As you
start to walk past him, he calls upon the dark powers and
raises again as an animated skeleton.

Mordred Prime: (Again, not official.  It was either this or simply
"The Skeleton")  First off, if you're extremely lucky, you can
defeat this dread foe before he has a chance to display his
amazing swordsmanship on your mortal form.  As you begin walking
toward him, get your sword high.  Keep pressing forward to
charge him.  Just before you get to Mordred's body, start whacking
high while continuing to charge.  With a rare spot o' luck on your
side, you'll whack ol' bonehead right in the brainpan before he even
gets his sword or shield ready for battle.  If Mordred's body lands
almost offscreen (half or less visible during the "Victory!" dance)
this will almost never work.  Likewise, if more than 3/4 of his
body is visible, you've got next to no chance.... and Prime is very
likely to give you a couple quick slaps and quick kill you.  The
perfect position is just a little over half his body visible.
Once you get the timing right, you can quick kill him every time
when Mordred's corpse lands in this position.

Now, lets get on with the strategy for when luck doesn't fall on
your side ^_^  Not surprisingly, you use the same attack pattern
you used to defeat his mortal form moments ago.  The problem is,
Mordred Prime is even faster in undeath, more cunning, and the
only blow that will bring him low is one directly to his skull.
Anything else simply causes the bones to vanish, which doesn't
enhamper his sword skills whatsoever!  And don't think you're
going to break off his unholy sword either, that's not going
to happen!

Once Mordred Prime collapses into a pile of bones and slimy
pinkish brain matter, give him one final insult by walking
over his corpse and head for the Treasure Place!
Congratulations!  You have proven yourself to be a true and
great Warrior!  So what do you do now?

Well...... depending on how the game you are playing on is set
up, you either put your name on the board and the game ends, or
you start over at the beginning with all your equipment from
the previous battles intact.  The game will speed up, and some
new traps will occasionally be thrown into the stages.

***(7) Some factoids and gratuitous self gratification***

If you've ever seen the actual arcade machine (most I've found are conversions
from old Defender machines) then you might know this..... the Gladiator's name
is Guirnos.  If you take a look at how he prances up the stairs at the end of
the first stage, then think about the name for a moment, you can guess what
corruption of that name we screamed at our noble Gladiator when the button
contacts were shot and not working properly :p

There was a rumor (try it on your friends, it's fun!) That if you managed
to stick your sword into the statue's mouth perfectly at the end of the
first stage it would open up a hidden area or give you bonus points, etc.
The statue I'm talking about is the gargoyle type thing at the bottom of
the stairs.  It was said that if you could get the Gladiator to freeze
perfectly with his sword stuck in the mouth during the "Clear Score" the
bonus came into effect.

Want to challenge yourself a bit once you've gotten so good you can play
the game with your eyes closed?  Try to get the electric shield to come
up in-between the last enemy of a stage and the "Clear Score".  It's not
as easy as it sounds!

At the end of stage 2, Keep swinging your weapon high as you walk toward
the wall at the end of the stage.  If you freeze during the "Clear Score"
with your weapon near fully extended, the Gladiator will merely tap the
wall and destroy it.  Then he takes a swing at the busted wall as
you walk through it.

Another thing you can try is to get "Full Body Separation" at the end of
stage 3.  Again, keep swinging your weapon high as you approach the door to
stage 4.  If you do it right, when the Gladiator gestures with his weapon to
open the door, you'll see a full separation of his upper torso from the lower
with the background showing through.  Sure, it's just a graphics glitch,
and not all that exciting, but once you're as good as we were you have to
search for new things to challenge each other on.

The most elusive weapon in the game is the "Gold Mace".  The only way to acquire
the Gold Mace is to have and maintain the Red Sword in Stage 2 all the way up to
the Black Mace Giant.  You then have to manage to kill him without losing the Red
Sword's magical ability.  If you manage to pull this off, and pick up the Giant's
Mace, you'll acquire the legendary Gold Mace!  It doesn't have any better hit
ability or anything.... It's just the mace with the magical Red Sword power on it.
It will change back into the standard mace when the Red Sword power is used
up in battle.  Again, just something to challenge each other on when you've
mastered the game on max difficulty setting.

There's a really simple way to determine if the machine you are playing on is an
original Gladiator machine or the more common Defender conversion.  If you can
move forward while you hold your shield up or down, it's the real thing.  The
Defender joystick didn't have contacts at the 4 diagonal points to allow you to
do this.  The game is a bit harder without the ability to do this, but most of
the patterns still work.  You just have to sort of do a "stop, start" stutter
step when you need to go forward and keep your shield in high or low position.

Got half a day or more to spare?  Try to beat my high score!  I'm not sure
of the actual final score, but it was in the 8 million point range.  The
only person who can challenge me that I know of is James English (who's
high score was only a bit behind mine at last count).  We had a seesaw
battle for the top spot on every Gladiator machine in the Tri-State area.
If you want to try it, you'd better be ready to spend over 12 hours.  And
I could have improved on that score quite a bit if it wasn't for the fact
that the joint the machine was in was closing.  I had to spend over 30
minutes killing off all my extra men on purpose to put my name on the
board during that game ^_^  8 million is approximately 22 laps through
the stages.

***(8) Some notes about playing via emulation i.e. Mame***

((UPDATE 1/31/01.... The information below is no longer valid, but just in case someone is ))
((still running an old version of the emulator...                                          ))

Okay, if you're playing this game on Mame, there's some things you
should know.  First off, the game doesn't appear to be *fully*
implemented yet.  The Dip Switch settings don't seem to function.
Therefore, you only start out with the one single man you are controlling
instead of him and two extras as is usual.  You also only get 1 extra
man at the first 100,000 points instead of one at every 100,000 as is
common.  You also can't loop through the game, because it's set up to end
after you beat the fourth stage.

Also, at last check, sound was not yet implemented, though samples are
available and I assume that this is in the works.

And also note that my stance on emulation is always the same..... If you
have the ROM, you'd better have or be looking for the original
Cart/Machine as well.

Now get out there and Gladiate!

Christopher Lee Boger
who has to thank James English and everybody else in the
Pantry/Arcade/Laundramat crew who spent hours and hours and hours
developing these strategies.