Horrible Histories: Ruthless Romans
Developer(s) Virtual Identity
Publisher(s) Graffiti Entertainment
Platform(s) Nintendo DS, Wii, PC
Release date(s)
  • EU August 7, 2009
  • NA March 14, 2010
Genre(s) Party, action, adventure, Educational
Media/distribution Wii Optical Disc, cartridge

Horrible Histories: Ruthless Romans, is a 2009 video game based on the Horrible Histories books written by Terry Deary. The game was released on Wii, Nintendo DS and PC and is narrated by Terry Deary. It features over 30 mini games. [4]


In 2008, it was announced that newly-formed publisher Slitherine Strategies was to develop games based on the Horrible Histories book series for PC, Nintendo DS and Wii [5][6]. The games were planned for release in Spring 2009. The first game, Ruthless Romans, was scheduled to be released in Q2 of 2009 ( listed the release date as 22nd May 2009, with an RRP of £29.99 for all three platforms[1]). The publisher's website describes the Wii version as: "...a fun packed party game where the plot that follows the struggle of young Rassimus to achieve glory as a gladiator and obtain his freedom. Rassimus, a slave and an ambitious gladiator-in-training, has been raised as a foundling by the great gladiator trainer Lucius Gladius, and spent nearly 12 years in his service. Lucius has now given him a chance to begin his training, and Rassimus hopes that he will be successful and one day become a citizen of Rome."[2] Information, screenshots and reviews of the game can be found at [7][8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15][16], [17]. On the opportunity, Slitherine said "Exploring this very specific sector, to bring a different type of fun and entertainment to this great brand through videogames is one of our most exciting ventures for next year. This is a great opportunity to show how we are able to work with such a powerful property [3]. The name of the new game Horrible Histories Ruthless Romans was announced on March 12, 2009, along with the fact that the game was being developed by Virtual Identity [4][5]. The game was eventually released on March 14, 2010.

A special edition of the Wii game was also released which also included the Horrible Histories book of the same name.


In the game's "Story Mode" you play as Rassimus, a young, Dacian man that escaped during the peasant riots. Rassimus was captured by Lucius, leader of the fifth Roman Legion, sent there to suppress the Dacian strike. Rassimus later becomes under Lucius Gladius' control and begins training at the gladiator school of Rome to become the champion gladiator.


The game received mixed reviews.

  • Metacritic gave the game a score of 47 out of 100.[6]
  • Games Master UK gave it a score of 59 out of 100, saying, "curiously, some of the gore has been toned down for the game, so it's lost some of what made the books and cartoons so popular."[7]
  • Boomtown gave the game a score of 50 out of 100, saying, "now I know this game is aimed at a young market, but I think things are too dumbed down here and that they are underestimating the youth of today."[8]
  • NGamer UK gave the game a score of 31 out of 100, saying, "stick to the books instead."[9]
  • Philip Lickley of Ace Games gave the game a more positive review. He concluded his review saying that "Ruthless Romans is filled with important (and child-pleasingly gory) facts and does to a certain extent succeed in making learning fun. The mini-games are enjoyable overall and well put together, with only some suffering from irritating controls and the game is well aimed at young children, forming almost a love letter to the fans of the original books, although it is quite text-heavy, so don't expect your children to forsake Mario and Zelda for it altogether. It's not perfect - the wandering around can be tedious and the progress is linear and at times repetitive - but as a translation of the book though, Ruthless Romans is a charming affair, one that combines learning and gaming with far more success than usually results from such edutainment titles." He gave the game a score of 7/10.[10]
  • Paul Govan of the Family Gamer column at Game People said "We were was excited about the release of Horrible Histories on the Wii for some time, and it is a relief that it has arrived in such solid form. While the edginess of the books is lost a little, the experience still oozes that great Horrible Histories balance of honesty, fun and education. We will look forward to the next game in the series."[11]
  • A game review by Marci for Game Space concluded by saying, "no matter how boring and bad textbooks for the study of history, they still preferred Horrible Histories: Ruthless Romans. Not to mention how bad this game as entertainment. Pluses: good intentions... Cons: over there and led." His rating for the game was 1.0/5.[12]



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ July 2009, p.73
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^