Horrible Histories: Ruthless Romans review

Hopefully you REALLY like gladiators

GamesRadar+ Verdict


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    Four-player action

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    Learn while you play

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    Interesting historical facts


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    D-pad control is a nightmare

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    Repetitive minigames

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    No motion-based sword-fighting

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Cooking up the ideal blend of fun and education is a dark alchemical art, and success is rare. Things like Brain Training work because the mental workout is delivered in short bursts. Also, math and verbal reasoning work well in a quickfire format. History is harder to condense into info fun nuggets, as Ruthless Romans proves.

Playing as a trainee gladiator, you run around a cartoonized Rome (well, try to – the D-pad control is a nightmare) completing repetitive minigames to earn new ‘fighting skills’. The motion-controlled tests are the ‘game-iest’ bits, consisting largely of target tests. These can be played with up to three friends in a separate minigame mode.

But in an attempt to shoehorn in some educational content, there are also quizzes. The answers can be picked up from books lying around the game world, but this seems to be a terribly stilted way of picking up interesting facts. The Latin graffiti on the walls is a nice touch – why couldn’t the historical facts have been presented like this rather than in those gameplay-ruining books?

Criminally, for a game about gladiators, there’s no remote-waving sword-fighting when you have a scrap in the Coliseum after completing the minigames – it’s all button-presses or tracing outlines. Surely the promise of lopping off some bloke’s head is a better way to get the kids interested.

Aug 07, 2009

More info

DescriptionHorrible Histories is a hard to control, tedious, and repetitive game with not too much to offer. Let's just hope you have a thing for gladiators if you want to play this doozy.
US censor rating"Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending"
UK censor rating"7+","7+","7+"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)