In my younger days (centuries ago) I’d get ready for school, sit down with a bowl of cereal and watch Disney cartoons on SABC 1…I think it was SABC 1. I’d only get to watch one episode however as my school day began at 7.15 am. One of these Disney cartoons included none other than Disney’s Hercules. I can still remember the theme song vividly.
Although the game doesn’t follow the series but rather the movie itself, it still captures the herculean hero well. Players will start off in a boot camp where Hercules is tasked with training by smashing up straw dummies and dodging boulders and spiked scarecrows. And although Hercules is equipped with a sword his strength is legendary and more times than not you’re better off with just punching through things, however even after saying this I have to admit that a few times in the game I had to think strategically rather than with my fists as some boss fights and even random enemies cannot be defeated by punching your way through. As the game progresses you’ll learn that your sword can also be imbued with magical abilities that you’ll be able to use against enemies for a limited time. Some of these abilities include fireballs and lighting. Although the game is primarily 2D there are elements of 3D. For example while running through the gauntlet when you’re training at the beginning of the game the camera angle will be over Hercules’ shoulders in a third person view. In each stage, you’ll be able to switch layers on the 2D space. So in places where you’ll see items in the background, you’ll actually reach a point where Hercules will be able to move up a down a layer within the stage to move into that 2D space in the background and acquire the item.
I have to admit that a few times in the game I had to think strategically rather than with my fists as some boss fights and even random enemies cannot be defeated by punching your way through.
The levels are quite entertaining as well, you’ll get to see Greek architecture at its best, well… as best as a game of this age can show off. And also show off as best as the games creators’ knowledge on Greek architecture, which I thought was pretty good. The level designs allow the player to venture a bit and explore which is quite rewarding as I often found myself detouring away from the main path and found secrets within the stages. Now you may be asking but its a 2D game, well if you recall me saying earlier, the 2D space has multiple layers so Hercules will be able to scroll up and down layers on the screen at specific places. One of these places for example would be a staircase in the city that’ll allow the player to move up a layer or down a layer on the stage. In this way the levels become much longer than you’d expect but to combat this there are checkpoints set up throughout the level which are activated by passing Hermes, the messenger God. One of the stages even has you flying on the back of Pegasus and if you collect the lighting or fire abilities for you sword it possesses the same mechanics as a shoot em up.
All in all Disney’s Hercules works well at combining platforming, action and adventure as well as hack and slash mechanics all in one. But this is of course to no ones surprise since the lead character is imbued with the blood of the Gods. With a fun soundtrack to listen to while exploring Greek cities or the forests outskirts, I had the volume up at all times. There’s also a ton of monsters, demons and enemies to smash through and figuring out how to defeat certain bosses without the use of your fists adds so much more to the game. The game allows players to select from three different difficulties which are beginner, medium and Herculean. I would recommend playing it on medium or Herculean as you’ll only be able to reach the final levels on this higher difficulty. Although finishing it on beginner also allows you to reach “The End” screen it won’t show you the true ending. This title blasts all the way from the past and is definitely a must play if you’re a fan of the movie, series or just enjoy platforming action adventure titles and smashing things up.