Colosseum Review: Flawed, Yet Keep Going for More

I was quite surprised when I saw Colosseum rise to the top 100 paid apps with little to no media coverage.  I actually didn’t even know what it was until I clicked on the icon, and the application popped up to show a Zombieville-esque side scroller along with some impressive artwork.

And while it looked all spiffy, I knew nothing could replace Zombieville on the iPhone.  Nothing could ever replace the sweet relief of blasting zombies’ heads with shotguns or rocketing them to ashes, but Colosseum came pretty close to accomplishing what other side scrollers never had: fun.  Never in the history of the App Store have I been more engrossed with a side scroller such as this, and ever since Zombieville, my life was, socially, never the same.

But in all honesty, Colosseum does not replace Zombieville.  There were some major flaws that I encountered, including the whole game being more of an endless mode rather than a game that ends and displays your overall highscore.  The highscore system implemented in Zombieville kept me coming for more and more, while in Colosseum, the only thing keeping me from quitting were the numerous amount of upgrades.

I will admit there are many parts to the game that will be considered flawed, including me, but some parts of the game are so incredulously designed that you can’t say much crap about it.  Developing company Biscuit Games proved that flaws could be balanced out, and with so many upgrades available, Colosseum kept me going for more.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect.  I’ve been saying that throughout the past 200 words, and I’ll say it again: the game is not perfect.  It’s a far shot from Zombieville and there are parts that need to be addressed.  But other than that, the developer did an ingenious work with the replay value, a factor that plays into almost all successful iPhone games.


Artwork: Character models were well drawn out, and the cartoon graphics looked quite clean.  I didn’t really find much wrong with the designs and artwork of the game, and while it’s not the best, it’s worth mentioning.

Animations: Everything seemed to flow smoothly when attacking or throwing an axe/dagger.  Everything felt so… natural whenever I was attacking a beastly looking ogre or chucking a somewhat lethal javelin.  When you look at the animations themselves, it actually looks quite choppy, and the motions look more like someone put a pin on the arm and was swinging the arm only.  But the developer did a great job with making the game feel smooth and move smoothly, making for quite a smooth ride.

Upgrades: There are so many upgrades in this game it’s not even funny.  I mean, I don’t laugh when there are only two upgrades, but still.  The number of upgrades in this game is unprecedented in a side scroller such as this, and there are more than you can imagine.  When you finish a level and enter the armory, there are upgrades from axes to javelins to armor to shields.  Each piece of weaponry or armor also has three levels to it, so you can upgrade the weapon itself.

Ok, so maybe I was exaggerating about the number of upgrades.  But there are definitely a LARGE amount of weapons to chose from along with a full suit of armor and a shield.  Oh, and did I mention large 2H swords?


Death Penalty: There’s no penalty for death whatsoever (or none that I encountered), making for more of an endless type of gameplay.  Once you have upgraded all your weapons and all your armors, there’s nothing really to do except quit.  The number of kills you accomplished aren’t exactly recorded, and from what I can tell, there aren’t any highscores to compete.  The fact that there’s no penalty for dying caused me to not even think of buying health potions, as all I had to do was die to regenerate my health.

Controls: The whole 4-button scheme on the right side really doesn’t work, and I would find my right thumb reaching across the whole screen just to execute a certain attack.  And by that time, the drooling ogre would have arrived 1-inch away from chest, inflicting large amounts of damage.  Weapon switching, also, was not as smooth as I would have liked it to be, and I would find myself not attacking the opposition when I was clearly tapping on the attack buttons.  While I do understand that there are a lot of weapons, there should be some other alternative to the messy, 4-button scheme with all 4 attack buttons in the right and middle sections of the screen.

One Map: Yes, we all know that it’s the Roman Colosseum, which is basically just one map.  But it’s basically the same thing over and over.  New enemies take forever to appear, and you’ll be fighting against the same enemies for two to three stages in a row.  It would have been nice to actually implement some of the Roman’s colosseum games, including exotic animal (i.e. tigers and lions) fighting.  It would even be cooler if you were fighting underwater against sharks or creatures of the deep.  Just something other than the dinky, dry Colosseum map.

There were parts of Colosseum that I clearly did not enjoy.  But there were parts of Colosseum that were pure intelligence, and I can’t ignore them.  While Colosseum wasn’t perfect, I found myself playing the game over and over again, trying to buy the next upgrade or buying the new weapon.  The replay value would definitely be the major saving factor of the game, and if you commute to and from work, this is a game that will make your ride seem like a breeze.  Even if you’re sitting at home and kicking back, Colosseum doesn’t fail to chop away 20 to 30 minutes of your time.

Colosseum was developed by Biscuit Games, and I played through version 1.1 on my iPhone 3GS.  The price is 50% off for $0.99.  There is a lite version to try before you buy.

About Daniel

I have been an iPhone game addict ever since the NES emulator came out on the 1.1.4 iPhone 2G. After 2.0 and the App Store came out, my iPhone homescreen has never been the same. Other than writing reviews for App Store games, I play soccer/football, American football, volleyball, and golf. I love going to the beach and fishing on the pier. Some games not available on iPhone/iPod Touch that I truly love are the Call of Duty series, Guitar Hero III, Madden NFL 09, and PGR: Gotham Racing.

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