There used to be a gents barbers in Liverpool called Ben Hair. Just one humorous gladiatorial pun in a possible field of many. Insert your own here. But while you’re trying to think of some Colosseum-related jokes, why not take a spin on NextGen Gaming’s gladiator-themed online slot, minus Russell Crowe.

Gameplay

I love a game with symbols as symbols, rather than one which treads out the same old Aces and Jacks malarky, so right from the off Call Of The Colosseum is right in my good books. The beautifully drawn symbols involved here are all taken from the legends of Ancient Rome – a tiger, sandals, grapes, coins, a chariot. The Emperor is our Wild symbol, appearing on reels 2, 3 and 4, and looks suitably Emperorish. In fact, he reminds me of Ian Holm’s monk in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. Completely by-the-bye, but any game that squeezes in a Fifth Element reference is fine by me.

While the graphics and sounds are sumptuous, I do keep expecting a comedic gladiator with his bum hanging out to stumble across the screen at some point, as is the usual wont of NextGen games. Not so here. Here we are playing it straight down the middle, which is itself somewhat refreshing as it lets us concentrate on the Emperors thumbs and forefingers.

Bonuses

Unlike the gladiators themselves, we do get something free from the theatre of battle. By landing three or more Scattered Shield symbols we launch a Free Games feature that grants us a bountiful 10 free games with all prizes doubled. During the bonus spins landing a Wild Emperor will not only send Wild our winning payline across the 25 possible, but our dithering dictator will either give us a “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down”. Thumbs Ups will grant us between one and three extra free spins during the feature. Thumbs Down…well, we all know what that means.

While the base gameplay may be missing some of NextGen’s trademark humour it does maintain the Aussie outfit’s characteristic Gamble Feature. Here we can choose to gamble any of our winnings on the flip of a card – choose red or black to double our prize or pick the correct suite to quadruple them. Fail, and we really will receive the thumbs down.

Summary

While half-expecting a Russell Crowe type character to come scampering through in a skirt, we will find ourselves pleasantly entertained by the gameplay and even more so by the bonus round that starts of at 10 free games and often ends up double that or more. If that were a gladiatorial match it would spell disaster for the fighters, but at least it’s good news for us.