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.
The sequel to the quirky Amiga adventure Heimdall, Heimdall 2: Into the Hall of Worlds was developed by The 8th Day and published by Core Design in 1994. In my opinion: it is more enjoyable than the first game, although not without its faults.
Heimdall is an isometric adventure game developed by The 8th Day and published by Core Design in 1991.
Gift From The Gods is a mythology-based maze game – with impressively-animated, large figures – that was only ever released for the ZX Spectrum. Its origins lie in the infamous cancelled Imagine Software game, Bandersnatch.
Valhalla was a game that was heavily marketed as an “epic” adventure with limitless possibilities back in 1983 when it was first released. It was portrayed by its publisher, Legend, as something of a ‘killer app’ on the Spectrum, and they even tagged it with a “MoviSoft” logo to make it seem “cinematic” – MoviSoft was the name of the game’s engine.
Steve’s Bak‘s 1987 sequel to the hilarious Hercules, God and Heroes is just as difficult and frustrating as its predecessor. But just as much fun!
Graphically, Gods and Heroes is a tiny bit better than the awful-looking Hercules, but not by much. It still looks like a dog’s dinner. But the key thing with this – as was the key thing with Hercules – is that Gods and Heroes is playable and fun. The feel of jumping around is good, even if the endless traps and tricks are a nightmare.
Gods and Heroes is masochistic gaming. You play it to torture yourself. Hopefully, to eventually beat it. And there are 50 screens in total, so good luck with that.
More: Zzap!64 review
This obscure text adventure, with graphics, was released on the ZX Spectrum by Mastertronic in 1986.
Steve Bak‘s insane-but-fun platform game, Hercules, was first released on the Commodore 64 by Interdisc in 1984.
By “insane” I mean: the game is deliberately deceptive to the point of driving the player to insanity!
The whole concept of leaping from platform to platform in Hercules is turned on its head by what I can only describe as “dirty tricks”. That is: traps set up by the designers, to make your life hell, as you play a level. Step onto the wrong platform: you’re toast. Jump onto the wrong rope: it’ll disappear. There are also plenty of occasions in the game where you have to make a ‘leap of faith’ jump into empty space, in the hope that a platform will appear. Sometimes it does, and the route to the exit opens. Oftentimes you’ll end up in the flames at the bottom of the screen though.
Hercules is known as a classic – even though it does have appallingly basic and garish graphics – because the gameplay is so difficult as to be satirical. Death is often swift, frequent and hilarious, but the game has been designed to be quickly replayable. And there’s a random element to level selection, so playing any one of the 50 levels over and over doesn’t get boring too quickly.
To complete Hercules would take a Herculean effort, in terms of memory, skill and reflexes. Are you up to the challenge? I know I’m not, but I do enjoy playing Hercules, just for fun.
A sequel, called Gods and Heroes, was released by the same author in 1987.
More: Hercules on Wikipedia
Released in its native Japan in 1992, and everywhere else in 1993, Landstalker is a memorable real-time action adventure in a well-defined fantasy world. The Megadrive‘s answer to Zelda, in some respects.
You take control of an Elf-like kid called Nigel (yes: Nigel), and must search for clues that lead to the treasures of King Nole. And you will find them in various dungeons and landscapes in the overworld as you follow the fairly linear path.
Combat is real time, and mostly about facing the right direction and hitting fire repeatedly. Not easy with the controls being directional, but you get used to it eventually.
Like in most Zelda games, when you leave an area and re-enter it, all the enemies come back. Which can net you extra income, but also means that you generally have to be careful where you wander, because life points are in short supply.
As an action adventure I’d say that Landstalker is relatively light on complexity – compared to something like Zelda: A Link To The Past – but it does have its qualities.
Landstalker was developed by Climax Entertainment for Sega.