Herc’s Adventures is a cartoon action game developed by Big Ape Productions and published by LucasArts and is based on Greek mythology and the adventures of Hercules. It was first released in 1997 for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation. The game is similar in graphical style to two other LucasArts classics, Day of the Tentacle and Zombies Ate My Neighbors, in that it uses exaggerated cartoon-style animation to present the world and characters.
Herc’s Adventures is also obviously influenced by Ray Harryhausen‘s classic fantasy films Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. In one scene in this game the Greek God Zeus is seen moving small clay figures around on a map, as happens in Clash of the Titans, and the skeletons in this game are also very similar to those seen in Jason and the Argonauts. Anyone familiar with Harryhausen‘s work will probably delight in this. Herc’s Adventures doffs its cap at fantasy action films in the same way that Zombies Ate My Neighbors parodies popular horror film conventions.
You can play Herc’s Adventures as either Hercules (aka “Herc”), Atlanta, or Jason, and your mission is to rescue Persephone from the Lord of the Underworld, Hades. The game can be played either single-player or two player cooperatively. Playing simultaneously with another player is where it’s at, and is another nod to the classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors. You can even turn two-player friendly fire on or off in the options.
Hercules (or whichever character you’re playing as) can run, jump, hit, pick up and throw things, shoot spears as a ranged weapon, and eat gyros (aka kebabs) to boost health. As well as a health bar each character also has a stamina bar too, which restricts the amount of time they can run or pick up boulders for.
Herc’s Adventures is a fairly linear game, but at times it can be challenging to work out where you should be going in the maze of hazards. Pressing Start brings up a map, but it doesn’t really help with the maze. The game is relatively easy to play, and the most difficult enemies are giant cyclops that throw rocks at you, or try to grab you (at least in the initial levels).
The game has a lot of nice touches, like skeletons jumping on your back; flying on hawks; being thrown by catapults; being eaten by monsters then thumping your way out; birds flying above you; picking up houses, or even that when you die you go to The Underworld and can fight your way out to continue where you left off.
While Herc’s Adventures is not a particularly innovative or original game it is definitely a lot of fun to play, with humorous graphics, simple but engaging gameplay, and co-op multiplayer. Recommended to anyone who wants a few laughs, and doesn’t want a high-stress gaming experience.
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