Review by Duke Gallison

Reviewed: 06/15/03 | Updated: 06/26/03

Dragon Warrior Goes to Greece

I'm quite certain we all remember a simple little RPG called ''Dragon Warrior,'' released for the NES around 1989 with a ridiculous marketing blitz. The title was promoted as ''a new kind of game,'' which it was to most Americans, who had had back then little exposure to RPGs, with the exception of Ultima, Wizardry, and Phantasy Star on the little-known Sega Master System. Before then over in Japan, the game ''Dragon Quest,'' as the Dragon Warrior series is known there, was pretty much a phenomenon, sparking a whole new interest in the RPG genre. In fact, the game spawned many clones and ripoffs, none of which unfortunately saw the light of day in America, since Nintendo feared Americans would never come to accept the genre (they would eventually be proven wrong, of course). This game, of course, as you shall see, is a Dragon Quest clone at its finest, though it's not as blatant.

The game contains a distinctive Greek setting, although it's most certainly lax in story, with no introduction or anything unlike that you at least receive in ''Dragon Warrior.'' Rather, you instantly start in Athens as the hero Heracles, and go around the world getting items to aid you in your quest, fighting various enemies and bosses along the way.

The graphics aren't anything special, and are in a way actually worse than those of ''Dragon Quest.'' For one thing, battle backgrounds are completely black, and NPC sprites only face one direction. When you enter some buildings, there are stills of people that talk to you, but they hardly fit the 8-bit maximum standards set forth by ''Phantasy Star.''

As for the music, I really liked the theme on the world map, although the regular battle music is truly an annoyance. The boss battle music, the palace music, the ship music, and the ending music are the other only good tunes, while everything else isn't really worthy of Koichi Sugiyama's tunes for the Dragon Quest games.

Now for the first of Otterland's Big Two of RPGs, the interface. I really liked how the towns and their outskirts fit together in this game, unlike in the Dragon Quests, where towns magically enlarge when you enter them on a world map. The menu that you can access is quite simple and understandable, although the interface does has its flaws. For one thing, you can't see how weapons and armor affect your stats before buying them, you can't see item effects, and the item menu is pretty small, forcing you to make decisions on how to dispose of valuable or useful items (of which there are many). In addition, you can easily make decisions during the game that can prevent you from beating it. Furthermore, there's no saving in this game, but instead a password system (like the Japanese ''Dragon Quest'') that can give you special games, as some passwords can have meanings.

Now for my other Big Two of RPGs, the battle system. That of ''Heracles'' is quite simple, as all battles are one-on-one. It would have been perfect, save for the following flaws. For one thing, if you go to your item or weapon menu and cancel out, you've wasted a turn. Still, I like how you can change weapons in battle, although doing so also consumes a turn. In addition, there's a ''Talk'' command, although this is pretty useless in battle. Finally, I didn't like how the Escape command didn't work for all non-boss battles (any decent RPG *always* lets you run away from non-boss battles, in my opinion).

In conclusion, I found ''The Glory of Heracles'' to be a ''Dragon Warrior'' clone at its finest, one that I believe any diehard RPG fan (that can at least read some Japanese) to play and enjoy. In addition, I hope this game gets a good makeover one day, perhaps from Square-Enix (the game's original developer is apparently dead, and S-E could certainly buy the game's rights). Recommended.

Battle System: 6
Interface: 6
Music & Sound: 6
Originality: 6
Story: 3
Localization: N/A
Replay Value: 9
Visuals: 3
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Overall: 8

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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