Disney's Hercules is a game based on the movie of the same title, released on the 1st of July 1997. A critically acclaimed game at the time, it boasted striking graphics and impressive sound.
Disney's Hercules follows the plot of the movie, where super-powerful Hercules finds out that he is the son of the Greek God Zeus. In order to prove himself as a true hero and sit alongside the other Gods at Mount Olympus, Hercules must rescue the damsel in distress, Megara, from the centaur Nessus. However, Hades, the god of the underworld, is not making things easy for Hercules by sending fierce titans after him.
For the most part, Disney's Hercules is a side scrolling action game where the player takes control of Hercules.
They must jump over obstacles and slash enemies with Hercules' sword to progress through levels, however the player is given the ability to move in and out of the background scenery with the use of the Z-axis. Combo moves also allow the player to execute moves more complicated than the basic sword attack.
Hercules also has a Power Punch ability, which takes time to recharge each time it is used. Another gameplay element is the ability to interact with environments. For Instance, the player may have to destroy a stone pillar with the power punch ability, stomping on the ground to find secret areas or throwing boulders to defeat enemies.
Disney's Hercules also feature several third person running sequences where players must dodge and jump over obstacles as they are constantly moving through a level.
There are also many boss fights in the game, which usually involves evading some form of attack, and striking at a window of opportunity exploiting some form of weakness.
There are 10 levels in the game, all of which are based on different parts of the Disney movie;
Contains spoilers on levels and bossfights.
1: "Your basic D.I.D*
*Damsel in distress"
This is the first level of the game and serves as a training course. It's filled with mechanical training opponents, and has no boss fight.
2: "Hero's gauntlet"
This level is one of the third person running levels where Hercules keeps running and you must jump, move sideways and control your speed (only slightly). There are some power-ups you can run over like a pair of boots that increases your speed for awhile. This level also takes place in the training grounds like the first one did.
3: "The Centaur's forest"
This level takes place in a forest with lakes and cliffs. It is pretty straight forward and can be compared to the first level, except with different enemies and environment.
It ends with a boss fight against the centaur Nessus where the player must avoid attacks and ride on his back to deplete his health.
4: "The big olive"
This level takes place in the grand city of Thebes. It is filled with pedestrians, some of whom will damage the player. There are also roads to cross with chariots running through in high speed. During this level the player must fight a boss, which is a centaur in the middle of the city. The player must avoid the thrown rocks, and throw boulders at the boss until he dies. Later in the level the player must also rescue the citizens from a swarm of birds attacking them.
5: "The hydra canyon"
This level consists entirely of a boss fight with a hydra. The player must chop of its heads, while avoiding attacks and boulders falling from the roof.
The level takes place in a canyon as the name would suggest.
6: "Medusa's lair"
This level also consists entirely of a boss fight against Medusa. As commonly known, Medusa's stare can turn people into stone, and the player must utilize this by reflecting her vision with small shields that the player can hide behind. First however, the player must get her to destroy some pillars which the shields rests upon, while at the same time killing skeletons being spawned.
7: "Cyclops attack"
This level is another one of the third person running levels, where the player must run through a destroyed Thebes, towards the cyclops titan who is destroying the city. While running the player must avoid rolling pillars, fleeing pedestrians and chariots, and disappearing stone ground.
8: "Titan flight"
This level is different from the others since it consists of the player riding on Pegasus (a flying unicorn). The player cannot stop moving forward so in that sense it is similar to the third person running levels, however in this level movement happens sideways, and the player can move up, down, forward and backward (From the far left to the far right of the screen). The level takes place in the sky, with clouds and distant landscape (with titans destroying it) in the background.
During this flight the player must avoid falling stone, swirling fire, gargoyle-like creatures and attack some of them too, while on the horseback. This chaos is created by the titans Hades released.
At the end of this level Hercules frees Zeus.
9: "Passageways of eternal torment"
This is the last third person running level, and it takes place in Hades realm (The underworld) where Hercules must run to Hades (which he fights in the next and last level), evading souls, skeletons, falling rock and spikes, rolling boulders and holes in the ground.
10: "Vortex of souls"
This is the last level of the game and consists entirely of a boss fight with Hades. During this fight Hercules must scale small cliff edges on each side of the level, while attacking Hades. At the same time, the player must avoid falling blue fire, and Hades who shoots out blue energy balls that can chase the player.
Some of the levels have secret areas, which contains extra collectables (see further down). Some of these secret areas can be found by stomping the ground with a special air move until it shatters and others can be found by moving through the scenery to places that would seem unimportant, and are not in the linear line trough the level.
In each level there are coins, letters, vases, weapon upgrades, helmets and small vases to be found.
Collecting coins gives you a higher rating at the end of the level. This rating is represented trough sentences like "Hero" or "Not bad kid".
The letters of each level spell out "Hercules" and if you find all 8 letters in one level, you are awarded with a continue (In case all lives are used up).
There are 4 vases in each level, and if you find all of them in one level, then you are awarded with a secret code that you can use at anytime from the main menu to start at the mission you found all 4 vases in.
This actually serves as the games save system, which is a bit unusual since you often have to go out of your way to find these vases.
Considering that the game is mainly marketed towards kids this is even more unusual (for the added difficulty in restarting over and over), and it's quite ironic to think of the fact that most new video games today, feature savepoints pretty much all the time, which basically makes this kids games save system more challenging (and frustration) than many mainstream video games of today.
During many of the levels you can also find weapon upgrades that you can swap between freely, but they all have a limited charge. These weapon upgrades includes:
Flame sword - Shoots fireballs that chase enemies.
Lightning sword - Shoots a straight line of lightning that you can move around the screen, damaging enemies.
Sonic sword - Lets out a ring which damages everyone around the player, basically doing splash damage.
The helmets that you can find allows the player to be invulnerable for a short period of time, when activated.
The small vases gives the player extra lives. When you run out of lives you will be forced to start over, unless you have a continue or a secret code.
As the game is tied directly to the animated movie Hercules, all of the cutscenes in the game between levels, are actual scenes from the movie.