Where's Kevin Sorbo?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . Oops, wrong Lucas Arts game. Ahem. In ancient Greece, men were real men (who wore lion skins), women were real women (who shot men with a bow), and little kids ran around knifing people. Well, maybe it wasn't exactly like that, but everyone is ignoring the facts these days, so who cares (look at what Disney and the WB did to Hercules). Anyway, back to the plot. Hades, god of the Underworld, has kidnapped Persephone, and it is up to you to rescue her. Who are you, you ask? Simple, you're either Hercules (muscle man of old), Jason (when he was a Micronaut), or Atlanta (a city in Georgia). On your journey, you encounter many fiendish things, along with a few of the other gods that hinder and help you on your quest. You are Zeus' last hope of overcoming his evil brother and freeing Persephone from his dark clutches.
A story you think you might have heard before, eh? Not quite. With all the rewriting of mythology going on these days, it's amazing that at least some of the themes have stayed the same. Lucas Arts has taken many liberties in their interpretation of Greek mythology, but at least they fully admit it (and at least they showed the truth about aliens in ancient Egypt). Herc's Adventure is a surprising find among 3D fighting murder death slaughter games that are the rage right now. This game proves that quality 2D games can still be made, and are still a lot of fun.
The graphics in Herc's Adventure are delightfully goofy. From inflatable cows to trail-side Gyro Vendors, the designers definitely had fun with this game. From the look of it, however, it seems as though the graphics were inspired by the Disney movie. Virgin Interactive and Disney Interactive are collaborating on the actual video game based on the movie. However Disneyesque the graphics may appear, it is obvious in the first few minutes of playing that the big-eared, gloved rodent had nothing to do with this game.
The gameplay is pretty similar to most other games of this genre. You can pick from three different players. Hercules is strong and tough, but not that fast (both mentally and physically). Atlanta is really fast and has a bow, but can't lift buildings. Jason is in the middle between the other two, and has no useful purpose whatsoever. When playing this game, we found that Atlanta is really the only character to use. There are points in the game where you can pump up both her strength and stamina, so there's no reason to use the other two. Her bow can be used to get many specials in the game that Herc and Jason can't reach. There don't seem to be separate endings depending on the character, so there's really no reason to play as Herc or Jason. In a two player game, use Atlanta and Herc, but forget Jason - he just sucks.
There are a few annoying bugs in the gameplay. The hit detection isn't very accurate, sometimes causing you to get hit when the enemies obviously missed. It was really apparent with the Cyclopes, who would grab you from amazing distances. Another annoying aspect is the seeming freedom of movement. The interface makes you believe that you can go anywhere in this world of old and do the Gods' tasks in any order. Unfortunately, the game actually lays out a specific trail and if you try to do things out of order, you get blocked by a big boulder or by the lack of a specific weapon. That brings up the final criticism of the game, the weapons. Each character begins the game with a specific weapon: Herc has a club, Jason a knife, and Atlanta a bow. That never changes. There are special weapons you can find that have a limited number, but your basic weapon always remains the same. This criticism of the game only arises because of the RPG feel of the rest of the game. You feel as though each of the characters should gain experience as you play the game.
Load time. The battle cry of the N64 has no place with Herc's Adventures. On both the Playstation and the Saturn, there was almost no load time. No pausing to load a new area of the map, no delay in playing the delightful animated FMV. Unlike two dimensional games we've seen before (Blood Omenfor example.) the Playstation was able to load the game without any delay. Hooray!
In an era of 3D polygons, it's good to see that game designers haven't forgotten that games can be different. Herc's Adventure is just a fun game. With a goofy plot line and a huge world to explore, you'll definitely have a good time with this game. Nothing revolutionary about Herc's Adventures, but if you're tired of blood, death, and hard music, play this game and have a blast.