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Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Score: 40%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Titus
Developer: Talon Soft
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

If there’s a glimmer of hope in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, it comes from the graphics. Admittedly, most of them feel like they’re ripped from someone’s ROM dump of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but that means that they actually look decent. Of course, the framerate drops to a crawl in random locations -- tell me what’s so rendering-complex in the barn, please? -- and the characters can clip through many, many things that they shouldn’t. The camera does, too, as there was a period of time when I played that the camera was stuck in Herc’s face. Erk. And instead of using interesting, non-repeating texture styles, there are areas in the game that are obviously cut-and-pasted from a map editor. The creek-from-two-walls landscape “chunk” is used no less than three times in the first four hours of play. That’s shoddy mapmaking, folks.

The sound is even worse, unfortunately. It skips and jerks whenever the framerate starts to crawl, and the effects often don’t play at the right time or don’t play at all. I had glitches where the walking in mud sounds just disappeared from the game, only to return a few minutes later, and much sound breakup when doing things like climbing ladders and looking around. It’s as if the game were CD-based and the CD were scratched -- only Hercules is in a cartridge and has no such excuses.


Gameplay:

The developers of the game have no excuses for the low quality of that, either. In a blatant rip-off of Zelda: OOT, Hercules sends, er, Hercules off on quests of epic proportions. What this really means is that Herc, and occasionally his two friends (one a staff-wielding wimp and the other a bow-slinging chick) have to run around forests flipping switches to open areas.

Read that again and remind me if ancient Greece had switches in the middle of their forests.

The entire game plays like a bad trip. Besides the illogical and pointless switch-flipping, there are the fetch-quests, which have you getting an item in one area, running for five or ten minutes back to a previous area, trading for a new item, and running back. This sort of “gameplay” is Not Fun. And there’s at least one jump in the game that’s near impossible to make, and the route to get back to make it wastes a good minute of your life. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The only redeeming qualities of the game are the combat scenes, but even those have problems. You can wail on an enemy and watch the hits not register, or you can knock them down with a single hit. I don’t get it. And despite the fact that you can knock down solid rock walls with a few punches, wooden doors bar your way, and you’re incapable of simply knocking the damn things down. The game is full of such inanities.

Herc can get four different types of magic in the game, which is somewhat handy, but I found it more useful for clearing large droves of dogs than for any real important combat. Of course, the potion costs 75 coins, and you’re only going to get 30 or so from the dogs, so there’s no real point to do that either.

I could go on, but I won’t. What little entertainment you can get from Hercules comes from a few of the fight scenes, where you go up against tough odds and beat the crap out of the bad guys. And it’s always fun to throw a dazed warrior at another one, killing them both. And the translation is funny, in a “we’ll outdo Working Designs” sort of way. But is that reason enough to get the game? Guess.


Difficulty:

For the most part, Hercules is painfully simple. Get item, give item, get new item, give new item. Flip switch, open door, find switch, flip switch, open another door. There’s nothing here that’ll give people problems, and you can run away from pretty much every fight in the game if you’re low on health. But then there’s that one near-impossible jump, and a boss fight near the end of the game that’s damn tough as well. The rest of the game is a pushover. Tricky planning or bad game design? You decide!

Game Mechanics:

The game’s controls are simple enough, but the camera’s random angle-changing makes them harder than they are. Add that to the fact that the Z button doesn’t so much lock the camera in place behind Herc as it locks the camera behind Herc’s back at that instant and stays there, and you have one irritating third-person view. With the spotty hit detection, irritating jumps, and funky game systems, there’s little about Hercules’ mechanics that feels right. The inventory menus are all right, but that’s mostly because it’s a direct rip-off of Zelda’s.

If you enjoy games, chances are great that you won’t enjoy Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Its combat is the only redeeming quality, and the rest of it is unmitigatedly dull, repetitive, and trite. While it’s not quite Hologram: Time Traveler, neither is it something that anyone has any business playing unless they’re absolutely desperate for another 3D adventure game. I suggest playing the two Zelda titles over rather than waste any time with this title.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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