Review by CyosisCMR
Excellent JRPG, Very Much a Hidden Gem
With my nonstop search for all that is JRPG's for the NES and SNES that were never released in America, I recently stumbled across a popular game series only released in Japan (until recently) known as Heracles no Eikou or Glory of Hercules. The game series is basically Dragon Quest except set in a Greek setting with Hercules being one of the main characters in the game series. The first two games were released for the NES (Famicon) and only one of those games being fan translated (the second one). The third game was a early released Super Famicon game and just recently got a translation. Well, not being familiar with the game series and since I couldn't play the first one since I don't known Japanese, I decided to start with the game on my favorite system, Super Famicon (SNES). What I got was a lot better than I had actually expected.
Story: The story is quite involving with some major plot twists along the way. You awaken as a nameless character with amnesia in a fairy village (you name the character). The fairies quickly find out that you cannot be killed when a earthquake opens the ground and you plummet to what should have been your doom. Not only does it not kill you but you aren't even remotely hurt. Apparently you are an immortal but not a God... As this is going on when you dream you dream of pillars in a small town with other characters that you can only presume that you will meet along the way. As you travel you discover some new friends that as well have immortality but are not Gods. Of course as you travel you meet and befriend Hercules.
Basically the story doesn't truly reveal itself to you until almost the end of the game and it's revealed with so many twists that your head wants to pop. That's not a bad thing at all. It's what makes a good RPG better usually. The story is filled with your usual Japanese humor but also has its fair amount of tragedy as well. The ending of the game is amongst some of the best for the system as far as JRPG's go. The story as a whole is pretty powerful and you should be enthralled throughout most of the game. My only complaint being that it was just a touch too short.
Graphics: The graphics are pretty standard for the time in which the game was released. The overhead graphics on the world map/dungeons/villages/etc etc look a lot like a DQ or FF game for the NES, just slightly looking better due to a nice color palette. Having said that, though, the world in general looks really nice. Each continent has its own look with the towns representing their location. Dungeons are well designed and some are maze like. The Underworld (Hades) was excellent looking and was genuinely a menacing place to be. But where the graphics shined for the time was the in battle graphics. Basically the game shares the same battle system that DQ does as everything is first person. What is different is the animations of the enemies. DQ didn't start animations until the remake of DQ3 and afterward it became standard for the series. Glory of Hercules 3 started before. The animations aren't exactly spectacular but it was nice playing a game in which the enemies didn't just sit there and only blink to know when they are attacking or being attacked.
Gameplay: Of course, one of the most important parts of any RPG is its gameplay. And for the most part this game does play as a standard JRPG in a very similar vein to DQ. You traverse a large world in which you can travel over the regular world, a underworld, a small cloud world, and finally the Heavens. So yes, there is quite a bit of world to cover and it never gets boring. My only issue when you enter towns or dungeons is that you move at a snails pace, which was quite common for any RPG at the time. It made me as a gamer loose my patience a few times as your characters just stroll along.
A nice thing about the world in general was the day/night system. It wasn't quite as perfected as what DQ had already done but it was important to enter a town at both times in order to sometimes further the story. Also inns would allow you to either sleep a full night or simply rest until night came so you didn't have to wander around outside town to wait for night.
The travel system is pretty basic for a JRPG. You, of course, travel by foot for most of the time. But as well you (surprising!!) get a ship halfway through the game. In place of an airship you actually get Pegasus to fly you around. Also you get a spell that helps you warp from town to town. There is one unique source of travel in this game that I haven't quite seen in any other game and that is travel by... Kite?! Yes, you will actually travel by kite in this game. The way it works is you have to travel up certain towers located usually in towns and you basically just throw yourself off the towers. From there you take to the air. You actually have no control over where you go. The only reason really to do this is to enter the clouds.
And of course the most important part of the gameplay is the battle system. Once again, the battle system is pretty much a copy of DQ. There are though a few differences. Magic is learned from entering certain temples used to worship the Gods. Matter of fact, each God has his/her own temple and you learn different kinds of spells based on this. Also, the names of spells are a bit difficult to get used to. Much like Phantasy Star each spell has a essentially made up name. For instance, a healing spell is called Pow. A stronger healing spelling is called Powra, and so forth. Another interesting thing with the battle system was the AI. Not exactly a new idea for RPG's in general, it's still unique in this game. For each level gained the hero will gain a certain amount of trust points. These trust points go towards how much your party trusts you. Sounds strange? It is the way it works. You will have two options as to how you want to control your party. You can either control them individually or use the trust option. What the trust option does is it allows your party to choose what will be best for your current situation. If you choose to manually control the characters you still don't have total control over them depending on your trust rating. You may have one of them use magic one round and if your trust rating isn't high enough your party member may choose not to listen to you and he will choose what he wants to do. It's an interesting system and makes the battles more interesting than your normal JRPG. My only complaint really was the pacing of battles. They move very slow and it takes sometime to gain your levels accordingly.
Music: Last but certainly not least, the music in just about every RPG ever made is quite important. Of course this game is no different. The music is composed by the same composer of the DQ series. Frankly, I am not a huge fan of the music in most of the DQ games but this game, admittedly, has some marvelous music. From the opening of the game to the end the music is simply beautiful. The world music is incredibly well written and will probably get stuck in your head. The battle music as well never gets old. Unfortunately, this being a earlier Super Famicon game means that the creators didn't think to have a massive soundtrack and only have different music when appropriate. This means all battles minus boss battles use the same music. The over world music never changes except in the underworld. Most dungeons use the same tune as well. One of the exceptions was the town music. For each continent you visit there was a certain tune that played for the towns to specifically separate them from the other continents. Now, the repetition in the music wasn't bad in this game since the music was really great on the ears and never really got old.
Overall the game is something of a gem for the system. Unfortunately in this era JRPG's were not very popular in America and most of the best games never saw the light of day out here. It's too bad because I grew up playing DQ and FF games as a kid and knew that there were many other games like that that were not going to ever be localized to the states. Fortunately for fans there are translations for a lot of these games created by fans. This game was just recently created by DQ Translations and they did a pretty stellar job other than a minor few errors here and there. This game is certainly worth playing and should remind one how much effort was put into games like this back in the day. Hopefully someone will translate the first game in the series!
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Heracles no Eikou III: Kamigami no Chinmoku (JP, 04/24/92)
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