Hercules, ZX Spectrum

The ZX Spectrum also had a version of Steve Bak‘s bonkers C64 platform game, Hercules. It was written by Quantum Productions and published by Alpha Omega Software in 1986.

It’s a faithful recreation of the original, with stages that contain some of the most devious traps ever devised in video gaming history… They’re based on the ‘Labours of Hercules’ and in each screen Hercules must reach the exit by climbing, jumping, and doing whatever it takes to not die. Which isn’t easy because the game’s designer tries very hard to make it difficult for you, but that’s the joke, isn’t it?

In some respects Hercules was very much ahead of its time. If you look at, say for example, the Super Mario World mod speedrunning circuit, or games like Super Meat Boy, you’ll find elements of Hercules in those. Meaning: elements of pure torture, but elements that are nonetheless beatable, if you know what you’re doing.

The game can start on any one of first eleven ‘Labours’ and the twelfth is always the same, reserved for the end. When you die another random Labour begins.

If you can memorise the safe routes through all twelve Labours then you’ll breeze through this game… That, I’m afraid, is not easy to do, what with the screens coming up randomly, and lives slipping away quickly, Hercules is a hectic platforming challenge beyond most games-players.

More: Hercules on Wikipedia

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