American Gladiators is the NES version of the game based on the popular TV show of the same name. The NES version was less true to the events of the television show and different from the 16bit versions. The game allows players to play as an American Gladiator and compete in several events against other gladiators.
The joust event is a series of battles atop platforms. The player, armed with the soft ended pole weapon from the series, must battle four opponents in a row. After each battle is won the player hops to their opponent's platform to continue until all four are defeated.
The human cannonball is a event where the player swings into the stage on a rope and must time a jump in order to knock an opponent with a shield off a platform. The opposing platform raises and lowers to make the task more difficult. The player must effectively knock four opponents off their platforms to win.
The wall is a climbing event in which the player must climb a wall of hand and footholds quickly avoiding obstacles and barriers on the way up, as well as opponents coming from below. Players must alternate button presses to climb. Opponents who touch the player will pull them off the wall.
The assault event features a battle with a gladiator in a moving target at the top of the screen the player must dodge incoming fire and move to positions to fire back. It takes 3-6 hits to defeat the opponent, while the player could only take 3 hits.
The power-ball event had the player grab a ball from one end of the stage and place it into one of five containers in the arena. The player must get a ball in all containers, while avoiding 3 opponents who will steal the ball from the player.
The final event is the eliminator which consisted of I-beams, in which a player must jump from platform to platform dodging medicine balls. This is followed by a hand-bike which the player must ride to the next area while dodging medicine balls. The next area is a series of conveyor belts the player must climb and jump between while avoiding additional medicine balls. A second hand-bike section is followed by a series of zip-lines which concludes the race.