DS

North America

Glory of Heracles

by James Jones - March 3, 2010, 6:39 pm PST
Total comments: 4

7

You should expect more from your immortal.

The last time a Glory of Heracles title was released it was on the Super Famicom in 1994. The series, which has never left Japan until now, has gone quiet after having five games come out in the span of seven years. It is now making a comeback and its North American debut with Glory of Heracles for Nintendo DS. Cryogenics hasn't been kind to Heracles; it is an uncompromisingly traditional Japanese role-playing game. While a competent title, it feels more than a little dated.

Glory of Heracles is set in the mythology of Ancient Greece, and has the same devotion to historical and mythological accuracy as Xena: Warrior Princess. You play as Heracles, a young man who has lost his memory, but has found that he is apparently the immortal hero of legend. Even more of a surprise, Heracles stumbles across other immortals in his journey. While it's nothing for the son of a god to be immortal, it is unusual for the children of mortals to find themselves unable to die. The party embarks on a quest to determine the secret of their identities and their immortality.

Their quest finds you crisscrossing the ancient world, encountering a mysterious strife that has begun to grip the land. Immortal soldiers, their souls gone, are being used as tools of war, and the heroes resolve to eliminate these abominations. The game takes place in the cities and dungeons of Ancient Greece. The cities are the standard fare for an RPG. While there, you heal, buy supplies, re-equip your characters, and receive your objectives. The dungeons are standard dungeon crawling material that are loaded with monsters, and you need to reach the bottom (or top) of the dungeon and slay the boss.

The turn-based combat pits your four heroes against a bevy of monsters out to deal you defeat. There is some strategy to it all. While your party is determined by the game, you can control their position on the battlefield. Both you and your foes have a 2 by 4 grid and you can decide if your characters are in the front or the back row. From the front row, you can use physical attacks, but you can also be hit by them. From the rear, you can only used ranged attacks (magic or attacks with your bow), but your characters replenish their Magic Points each turn. Those points are used to either cast spells or use special skills, such as a bash with your shield that knocks your foe back to the rear row.

One unique thing about the battle system is the Ether system. Ether comes in one of five elemental forms: Fire, Earth, Wind, Water, and Dark. Magic consumes the Ether of whatever element the spell is derived from. At the end of each turn, some Ether is added back, but the amount of elemental Ether added is determined by the environment in which the battle is set. For example, a lava cave will replenish more fire Ether. Both your party and the enemy party draw from the same Ether pool, so in theory you can intentionally deplete the Ether type an enemy employs. However, the Ether system seems to be more of an irritant, as it seems more often you're the one who has run out of your Ether of choice.

The game also lets you power up your skills and spells by playing some tapping mini-games. Most of them are the kind of stuff you would see in Brain Age, and they range from “Tap the numbers in order” to “Sort the numbered circles into the matching boxes.” They're never really fun, and a lot of time I choose to skip them because they just didn't seem worth the effort.

As the primary mode of gameplay, it would have been nice to see the developers, Paon, take some additional risks with the combat system. Just because the series last saw life on the Super Famicom doesn't mean the combat system needed to be constrained as such. It's not overly slow, but even with the mini-games it leaves me feeling disconnected.

The game can be controlled with the stylus or the face buttons. The stylus lets you move by putting it where you want to go and you'll run towards that point. Because the screen scrolls, your stylus stays ahead of your character, and you keep running. Besides that, there isn't much to explain about the controls. The D-Pad also moves you around, and everything else is menus, which are navigated by either tapping the touch screen or using the D-Pad and A button to move around and select an option. The only time you are required to use the stylus is for the in-battle mini-games.

The presentation is above average, but not spectacular. The graphics are kind of a strange mix. The game perspective is isometric, and the world environments are 3D and look nicely detailed. The characters, while animated well, look plastic-y. They stand out in the game world and seem as if they were developed by a different team. In battle, things don't look as good either. The backgrounds are flat and dull, and the models don't animate as well. On the other hand, the sound is good. There is some nice music, but the sound effects are the same stuff you would expect from a "standard" RPG.

I wish The Glory of Heracles had taken a few more risks. The story has a good thing going, with your requisite twists, and an interesting set of characters. However, it is wasted on a game that struggles to find uniqueness. While the game does a good job doing everything you expect it to, the problem is that it only does what you expect it to. RPGs, Japanese style or otherwise, have advanced and The Glory of Heracles feels dated by comparison.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 7.5 8 6 6.5 7
Graphics
7

The world looks nice, with building, statues, and ships looking detailed. However, the battles and the character models are less detailed and less appealing to look at.

Sound
7.5

The sound effects aren't much to speak of, but the game has some nice music.

Control
8

Both the stylus and button controls work exactly like you want them to.

Gameplay
6

While there is some strategy in the combat, the utter lack of risks and creativity leaves this feeling dated.

Lastability
6.5

A long RPG with a solid story should be the recipe for a long enjoyable adventure. However, the dated gameplay, and lack of variety really hurts this game's draw. It follows a bland formula: Go to A, enter dungeon, kill monster, Go to B.

Final
7

So what do you get with The Glory of Heracles? It doesn't do anything poorly, and in some ways the game excels. So, then the question is why am I not having a lot of fun? Anything new would have been great, but you won't find it here. If you're in the market for a traditional SNES-style RPG well then you're in luck. Me? I want to try something a little newer.

Summary

Pros
  • Nice music and environments
  • Solid story with some good twists
Cons
  • Lack of creativity in gameplay
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

In the interest of nerdy accuracy... Heracles isn't immortal. He's only a demigod, after all.

StratosMarch 04, 2010

Thanks for the review, Crimm. I was rather interested in this game and on the verge of picking it up but you've show that it is something I would definitely not appreciate. I had hoped that Nintendo had worked more uniqueness to it.

I'll save the money for something better.

Jonny is correct, but as the review states: the game makes very little account for mythological accuracy. The main character's immortality is routinely written off by the other members of the party as "expected."

Stratos, Glory of Heracles has some fun in it. If you like old-school JRPG battle mechanics then the part of the game that most bored me isn't an issue.

Glory of Heracles also had the misfortune of coming at the end of a major RPG kick I was on. Two of the RPGs in question had more experimental battle systems ("Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World", "The Last Remnant"). I found both more involved: Tales has short (one lasted 9 seconds) frantic battles, and Remnant had longer more strategically driven fights. Neither had random encounters, which does make a difference in pacing.

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Glory of Heracles Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer Paon Corporation
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Glory of Heracles
Release Jan 18, 2010
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Hercules no Eikou: Tamashii no Shoumei
Release May 22, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages

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