Hercules - Slayer Of The Damned
Copyright/Publisher: Gremlin/Cygnus Software, Designed By: Nicholas Mills & John Tometzkt,
Programmed By: John Tometzkt, Graphics By: Norman Illings & Bob Hawker, Music By:
Andy Morton, Release Year: 1988, Genre: Fighting Sports, Number Of Players: 1

I hope you're listening, because this is a complex story. As all mythology buffs out there doubtless know, Hercules ws the son of Zeus, cheif of the Gods. His mother, however, was not Zeus' wife, but a mere mortal named Alcmene; as a result, Hera (Zeus' wife) hated Hercules. Clear so far? OK, then...

Apart from trying to poison him with serpents when he was an infant, Hera later bewitched him and made him kill his own children. When he recovered, he felt so much remorse that he was ready to do anything to make amends for his sin.

Thus the Gods sent him to the King of Argos, who gave him 12 difficult tasks to complete: the Labours. The object of the game is to collect these Labours while fighting off sword-bearing skeletions one at a time.

Hercules can only inflict damage to them when they are standing above a snake which slithers along the bottom of the screen. When a Labour appears on the screen, Hercules must hit it to send it flying into his urn. From time to time a spider will descend to try and steal a Labour from the urn and must be despatched with a hefty sword-chop to stop it.

Several moves are available to our mythical muscleman: these are graced with such amazing names as The Mountan Shaker (an overhead blow), Pluto's Messenger (leg sweep) and The Crasher (head blow). These are accessed in the usual fighting game style using combinations of directions with or without the fire button.

If Hercules manages to collect all 12 Labours he can take on the mighty Minotaur (loaded separately). This overgrown moo-cow is armed with a trident and deadly sharp horns with which he tries to gore Hercules. If this final opponent is overcome the game is won and a Greek victroy message appears.

So, Hercules has been a naughty boy and is being punished by having to complete 12 very difficult tasks; unfortunately, for me it was punishment enough to have to play the game.

Maybe it's because I've seen so many of these beat'em ups before that this one unfortunately did nothing to fire my interest. Graphically it's mediocre, porky main sprites doing their best to beat the hell out of each other, backed by pleasant scenery: the grating, repetitive tunes is even less appealing.

Playability is a joke: all it involves is beating the stuffing out of the skeletons and pick up the 12 icons as they bounce around the screen. I'm afraid Hercules isn't a game that I would recommend to anyone.

Some good ideas make this a beat'em up with a difference, but after several games I felt that with more work it could have been so much better. The action is more repetitive than most other similar games: until the final confrontation, Hercules has to fight a never-ending army of indistinguishable skeletons in the same location.

It was also a surprise to find that the 12 tasks are reduced to icon-bashing - a pity, since there's plenty of scopre in the legend for a good arcade adventure.

The soundtrack has a suitably Greek minstrel feel to it, but the thwack of club connecting with jaw is reminiscent only of a spoon dropping into a tim mug. Unless you have some kind of psychopathic urge to get as many fighting games as possible, remember the old reviewers' adage: try before you buy.

Gordon Houghton
Though, it's not the most incredible beat'em up around, Hercules is enjoyable for a short while. The graphics would be very good if there was any more variety - unfortunately, the backdrops, icons and sprites are all pretty unimaginative, and the animation isn't all that clever.

Sonically it's merely ordinary, with a passable tune and some bonk-clang sound effects - no grunts or screams to liven up the atmosphere. The action doesn't very overmuch, and all the skeletons behave in the same way - a lot more should have been made of the legendary figures involved.

It's probably worth checking out if you're a manic fan of the beat'em up; however, when you look at classics such as IK+, it isn't in the same league.


Sluggsih joystick control and awkward multiload, but the option to fight in the final screen is appealing.
Lack of variety in the backdrops and sprites and few frames of animation creates a dull and unatmospheric mythological environment.
A few feeble clangs and thuds complemented by a grating soundtrack.
The similarity of opponents and little diversity is only rescued by the attempt to reach the Minotaur.
Once you've seen one skeleton you've seem them all...
A boring and unimaginative attempt to create an original game.