IroIro Retro Logo

Veigues Tactical Gladiator

For quite some time, flying cars were the fictional technology that people thought would herald a bright new future. Then anime came along and presented a young generation with something orders of magnitude more interesting: giant robots. By the late 80s, these towering were bastions of hope, embodying all of the promises of tomorrow, front and center in the minds of a number of young people. There were toys, cartoons, and, of course, there were also video games featuring them. One that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves is Veigues Tactical Gladiator for the PC Engine.

This was a side scrolling action shooter where players piloted a red mecha as they tried to defend the Earth from alien invasion. It took a little bit of getting used to the controls, but the robot had some interesting qualities to it. For one, there were multiple systems on it. Weapons were mounted on the left arm, right arm, and the torso (and controlled individually), while it also had a shield system and something called the Vernier, which were thrusters that allowed the mecha to jump. When the shields were depleted, it was possible for each of the weapon units to get damaged and even be destroyed, limiting players options for how they might fight enemies. Also, the Vernier system took some getting used to in how it allowed the mecha to jump. When fully charged, one could jump quite high an even briefly hover in the air. However, if used to much, there wouldn’t be a lot of juice left in the system, leaving players only with the ability to take short hops unless they stayed on the ground for a bit to allow the Vernier system to fully recharge.

The game itself was actually fairly challenging. A big part of that was because it was difficult to dodge enemies. Players’ mecha was quite large leading to a massive hit box. Moreover, certain enemies and bosses would plow right into the player. As such, just expect to eat some attacks. Luckily, there are less intense, easier to dodge portions to each level. During these segments, it’s much easier to dodge attacks, and players’ mecha shields actually do regenerate over time when not taking damage. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to upgrade shields between levels. This will essentially give players more hit points and a much better chance of surviving later stages.

This also brings us to one more gameplay aspect in Veigues Tactical Gladiator: upgradeable systems. At the end of each stage, various factors based on play performance in the previous stage dictates the number of points a player will receive to upgrade their mecha. This will make weapons stronger, add extra strength to shields, and allow the Vernier system to last longer. The more upgraded something is, the more points it will cost to continue upgrading. So, there are choices to be made, giving players a few customization options as they progress through the game.

Aesthetically, Veigues Tactical Gladiator looks pretty decent for a PC Engine game. There are a lot of bright colors that pop off the screen. Players’ mecha is large and fairly detailed. Levels cover a variety of environments ranging from jungles to devastated cities to alien complexes. The enemies themselves aren’t terribly detailed, and neither are the bosses, though.

Meanwhile, there are some enjoyable tunes playing throughout the game. Its soundtrack has a very arcade-like feel to it with a mix of somewhat laid back pieces and peppy melodic numbers meant to add more energy to each stage. The boss theme remains the same throughout the game, though, and it’s actually not that great, getting repetitive quickly.

Interestingly, this game was developed by GameArts. The studio's early days were filled with action titles like this rather than the RPGs that the developer later became known for (Lunar, Grandia). If anything, Veigues feels like a logical progression from a previous mecha game that the studio worked on: Thexder.

On the whole, Veigues Tactical Gladiator is well worth spending some time with. It’s an often neglected game in the PC Engine library. It looks good, plays well, and is something fans of giant robots should consider spending some time with.

- IroIro
April 17, 2020

More Giant Robot Articles:

- Bangai-O Game Review (Dreamcast)

- Gundam Wing: Endless Duel Review (SNES)

- Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01 Anime Review

Developer: GameArts
Publisher: GameArts
Genre: Action
Platform: PC Engine
Released: 1988

Veigues Tactical Gladiator Image 1
Box Art

Veigues Tactical Gladiator Image 2
Fighting in the water

Veigues Tactical Gladiator Image 3
Powering up weapons between stages

Veigues Tactical Gladiator Image 4
Fighting in an alien base