Glory of HeraclesESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Stylus or traditional control style
Basic reading ability needed to fully enjoy game (that’s from the box, personally I think you need good reading comprehension)
Interactive spell casting
As nice of a guy as he is, I have to admit the Editor-In-Chief of Game-Boyz threw me a bit of a curveball asking me to review Glory of Heracles. The last RPG that I played extensively was Ultima IV on the Commodore 64. We’re talking 1985 here people! Yep, it has been that long! I’ve dabbled since then but found that turn-based combat didn’t hold my attention for too long and I bored quickly of long dialogue trees and quest management. With that out of the way, I looked at doing this review as a way to perhaps re-introduce myself to the genre and talk about the game from the view of someone that doesn’t have much RPG experience. And you know what? I liked it.
Often I find the size of game characters combined with the size of the DS screens make for characters that are poorly detailed, pixely (editors note: is that a word?), and lack a good degree of differentiation. Not so in the case for Glory of Heracles. Characters are a good size, are well detailed, and feature nice animations. The environments that make up the game are also nicely detailed for a DS title and there are lots of nice little touches (the wake from the boat for example) that add to the visual quality of this game. Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the graphics and they helped raise the enjoyment of the game that much more.
Quality continues in the sound department as well. While there isn’t any verbal dialogue given the limitations of the DS’s cartridge format, the music is particularly good. It is almost epic at times and changes enough to keep from getting too repetitive, and more importantly it helps to set the tone of different portions of the game. I always like it when a game’s soundtrack enhances the gameplay and I feel it does so in Glory of Heracles. On a more negative note, some of the game’s sound effects are awfully repetitive and grating. The sound that plays before every enemy encounter is a perfect example of this. In the end though the total audio package does a solid job of immersing you into the Greek universe you traverse.
In Glory of Heracles you play the unnamed hero who goes on a quest to find out just who they really are and how they came to be. Along the way you interact with a cast of characters, many common in Greek mythology, and several of these characters join you in your quest. I hate spoiling too much about plot in any game so I’ll leave things at that. All you really need to know though is that this game is a take on Greek mythology from a slightly younger perspective, but despite my age (older of course) I quite enjoyed the story and characters involved in telling this tale.
I had to do a bit of research to catch myself up on the realm of RPG’s. I didn’t think it was fair to do a review without at least getting slightly up to speed about what people think make good RPG’s today. Overall Glory of Heracles’ gameplay is very traditional. You can control the entire game with the stylus or the regular directional pad and buttons. You can swap at any time or even use both schemes as a sort of hybrid should you choose. I preferred using the stylus myself, but I used the DS’s shoulder buttons to rotate the view when needed.
From what I could tell as I played, encounters with enemies are entirely random. Combat takes place in a turn-based format. Your party can be organized in two lines (front and back) and their capabilities change based on their placement. The same goes for enemies. Among others, some actions during combat are sorted into general attacks (which are based on what you are carrying in your hands), magic, skills (which use MP but are more like special general attacks such as releasing a volley of arrows to hit multiple targets), waiting (which powers that character up for the next turn) and a handy auto function where the actions are chosen quickly for you by the AI. I found everything to be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but it is all laid out and explained well enough between in-game instruction and the manual that I was comfortable with things in a reasonably short amount of time.
Casting magic spells during combat gives you the option of playing a mini-game to power up the attack. You can also let the attack just occur, but that is a bit boring now don’t you think? The mini-games use the stylus. As you progress through the game you can unlock more advanced spell skills with harder mini-games, but I found them generally pretty easy. I pretty much opted for this enhanced way of casting spells throughout my time with the game as it added a bit more to the overall gameplay.
The dialog is pretty general in the terms or sayings that are used with several attempts at humour thrown in. The game box says that a basic reading level is required to play the game, but since there is a significant amount of reading to be done I would say to heed the game’s ESRB rating. I can’t recommend this game for players under the age of 10. The dialogue is pretty concise which is something that I appreciate. Not having to read through seemingly endless diatribes is good, and the game still does a pretty good job of developing its characters through the dialog that is found throughout the game’s narrative.
Sadly Glory of Heracles offers no other reasons to play it again once you’ve finished. There is no multiplayer or game sharing component that takes advantage of the DS’s Wi-Fi capabilities.
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