Review by Braben
Excellent debut, but not glorious.
The Glory of Heracles II for the Nes left such a lasting impression on me some time ago when I played it that, being a lover of both old school rpgs and everything ancient Greek/Rome related, I was delighted when I heard that the third installment was almost entirely translated, and even more when I learned that, some time in the future, the fourth will be as well. Nice!
The story starts typically, when a young boy wakes up with amnesia and sets on a journey to remember who he was and why is he blah blah blah Despite this terribly cliched premise and a character development that rivals that of a Wayans Brothers film, there is a good amount of unexpected situations that raise the story above mediocrity and most importantly, deviate it from monotony, this is not the typical rpg in which everything consists on going from dungeon to dungeon slaying giant slugs.
It might not look so, but the graphics are very good. Final Fantasy IV would probably be a nice comparison, sometimes it looks better, sometimes a bit worse, but overall the visuals are very good, specially considering this was one of the earliest games for the Snes. The atmosphere isn`t Greek enough though, unlike its predecessor it doesn`t entirely look like a game specifically set in ancient times save for a couple of occasions and that was a huge disappointment.
It is a real pity that the soundtrack is so repetitive and there is such little variety, because there is not a single bad theme, they are all quite pleasant to hear and sometimes even really good.
Just like the previous games, the gameplay remains very Dragon Quest-like, but a bit more accessible, for example this time there is no need to select the talk option whenever you want to talk to someone.
That also includes the battle system, almost a carbon copy of Enix`s series save for the fact that you can let your buddies attack for themselves if you want and that depending on the type of weapon you use you can hit different rows of enemies, so no big deal. How much your buddies trust you is important during the battles though, when you first meet them sometimes they refuse your orders and do as they please, which can be quite irritating. Anyway as long as you don`t go around stealing things from people`s houses everything will be fine in time, otherwise you`ll likely lose a good amount of precious items and magic points.
Also, the stat growth is completely random, so try to save your game when you are about to level up or you`ll end up loosing alarming quantities of attributes. The amount of damage most enemies inflict seems a bit random as well, a crappy mole inflicts either 5 or 1 points of damage depending on well, I don`t know, but that is the way it is so you have to be very careful against even the puniest monsters. I hate this ``randomness`` with passion.
Fortunately you don`t have to use an item first in order to find out what does it do, or at last not those sold in shops. Too bad the same cannot be said about your arsenal of weapons, although you can see the power of what you are buying, that is still not enough to decided whether it is better or not that the one you already have.
A very curious feature is that, whenever your inventory is full, you can simply find a soft spot on the ground and bury anything you want there. Yep, that is how you store items in Heracles III, sadly, you can only store one item per spot, so if you want to store ten items you`ll have to dig ten holes. Anyway later in the game you can visit people who apparently keeps track of all the stuff you buried around the world, so you can just get your items from them. It doesn`t make any sense but hey, it`s really useful.
The game`s biggest issue, as expected, is the encounter rate, which is crazy high, although it should also be noted that the dungeons are not very long and the game itself fairly easy, or at least when compared to the average obscure Japanese rpg, so it isn`t much of a deal either.
The Glory of Heracles II was such a fantastic game for a Nes rpg that I had really high hopes for this sequel but, sadly, it is not up to the second part in the end. Still, this is a very good rpg and an excellent game overall, specially taking into consideration how early it was released, because it is much more interesting and has a whole lot more content and variety of situations than many quantity of rpgs released not long ago.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Heracles no Eikou III: Kamigami no Chinmoku (JP, 04/24/92)
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