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In the year 2348, humans have been exploring space for the past four centuries, and have established contact with various alien civilizations. People now emigrate from one planet to another, and life is generally good. In steps Edward Bilstein. A Nobel prize-winning physicist, he uncovers the secret to humanity's "sixth sense," and discovers how to use it as an energy source he calls, "Plasma Power." After failed attempts to coerce other Plasma fighters to join him in taking over Earth, Dr. Bilstein is captured by authorities and imprisoned in a satellite orbiting planet Zeta. Six years later, Bilstein has built himself a powerful cyborg body, and has managed to escape from his cell, gathering a cadre of Plasma mercenaries at his side. After making quick work of Zeta's defenses, Bilstein again sets his eyes on Earth. A panicked Earth Federation has only one recourse: to find people who could utilize the Plasma weapons against their own creator in a last, desperate hope to stop the mad genius before he can invade Earth with his nascent Fourth Empire.
Having revolutionized an entire genre of gaming, Capcom's Street Fighter series is the benchmark by which all 2D fighting games are measured. With Star Gladiator, Capcom gave the game a futuristic theme, and took it's first try at a 3D fighting game; but the result just couldn't compete with some of the other 3D fighting games of the time. The characters in Star Gladiator seem to be Capcom's take on Star Wars characters; certainly unique and humorous in some cases, but not enough to really hold together a completely new franchise.
Sony's ZN-1 arcade hardware is extremely similar to the PlayStation hardware, allowing for easy translation to the PS1, where it was better received. Still, Star Gladiator was hardly the smash hit Capcom may have hoped for, and their future forays into the 3D fighting genre (Rival Schools series, Street Fighter EX franchise) seldom fared much better. Eventually, the game was released for PlayStation in November 1996 and followed by the sequel, Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein (Star Gladiator 2 in Japan) which was only ported to the Sega Dreamcast despite much speculation of a PlayStation conversion.