Colosseum: Road to Freedom (aka Gladiator: Road to Freedom in Japan) is an action game developed by Ertain and published by Koei in 2005 for the Playstation 2. The uncut / beta version is a different enough game that it could be probably be considered the equivalent of a “director’s cut”. Aside from the slave trade mode missing, it’s an overall MUCH more polished and satisfying game to play all around and certainly a LOT less frustrating.
There is actually a “Retry?” option available for boss battles that lets you replay the fight several times if you lose. You do not instantly lose all of your items and half your money if you continue as you do in the release version. It is baffling as to why this feature was removed as it lets you “scout” out the boss and if you lose you will be able to prepare yourself better to fight him/her the next time around.
The uncut / beta version contains a “Gore” option that can be turned on or off. When turned on, body parts can be hacked off during battle and go flying across the screen. Severed heads can be used as handheld weapons, thrown, or kicked across the ground at opponents. Legs get hacked off and enemies fall down in severe pain. It adds a lot of fun and realism to the gameplay, and of course better portrays the brutal nature of what was gladiator combat. Body parts can also be carried out after a fight and sold to the merchant for a very large amount of money, so much in fact that you can buy any armor you could possibly want and the extra money allows you to upgrade your armors exactly how you want them.
I don’t know quite what happened between the two versions, but so many things were changed around and removed for worse in the release version and I feel the game suffered because of it. It almost seems to me as if the game producers / developers had conflicting concepts of how they wanted the game to be, and the release version we know won in the end.
Thanks a lot to DeusFlux for the info and the video!