Hercules: Slayer of the Damned
by Cygnus Software: Des O'Toole, Cheryl
Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd
Crash Issue 54, July 1988   (1988-06-30)   page(s) 82,83

As all mythology buffs know, Hercules was the illegitimate son of Zeus by the mortal woman, Alcmene. Zeus' wife, Hera thus hated Hercules and forced him to kill his own children while bewitched. When he recovered, he felt so much remorse that he vowed to do anything to make amends for his sin. The Gods sent him to the King of Argos who gave him 12 difficult tasks to complete: the Labours of Hercules.

The object of the game is to collect these Labours while fighting off a sword-carrying skeleton. When a Labour appears, Hercules hits it to send it flying into his urn. Occasionally a spider descends in an attempt to steal one of his Labours, and is despatched by a successful blow.

Several moves are available to Hercules and these are accessed in the usual manner using combinations of joystick directions with and without fire.

If Hercules collects all 12 Labours he then faces the mighty Minotaur (loaded separately on the 48K).This overgrown moo-cow is armed with a trident and deadly horns with which he tries to gore Hercules. If this final opponent is overcome the game is won and a Greek victory message appears.

Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: large and detailed, with a colourful background. Terribly slow animation
Sound: white noise spot effects only
Options: minotaur demonstration

'Hercules is just a simple beat 'em up, limited by the small amount of available moves and the similarity between opponents. The graphics are mainly monochromatic on an unchanging yellow background, although the scenery above the play area is good. The animation of the characters is jerky, but the disintegration of defeated skeletons is achieved well. The Minotaur is nicely drawn but again suffers from slow, jerky animation. The task of collecting the Labours is very repetitive and, worse still, I found the game much too easy. There's very little challenge and I managed to complete it within four or five attempts!' I should think most beat 'em up fans will also find it far too easy. The most difficult part is translating the Greek victory message at the end!'
PHIL ... 54%

'Hercules may carry a classical theme but it's definitely not a classic beat 'em up. The graphics are attractive enough and, in conjunction with the 128K music, manage to create something of an ancient atmosphere, but the gameplay itself is difficult, and slow. There's an enormous time lapse between the joystick and the execution of a punch. By the time Hercules is in any position to deliver a Titans' gift, his opponent has had plenty of opportunity to slap him around the head two or three times. With such an arthritic array of possible actions, Hercules doesn't really have much chance of success. Unless you're into dull, tedious torment, give this a miss'
KATI … 48%

'It's obvious that this game's strong point is its graphics. Hercules - Slayer Of The Damned! has some of the most detailed characters and backgrounds that I've seen for ages, and clash is nowhere to be seen! But this is where the good points end: the movements that Hercules makes are painstakingly slow and if he overlaps with his boney adversary you create a new character - a bearded skeleton! The 128K version has a great tune, but which plays constantly and becomes very irritating. On the 48K there is just a blip when you swing your club. It's a bit of a tall order to ask you to collect 12 tasks; after battling for half an hour I had only collected one! Hercules is very pretty but lacks on the playability front. If you're looking for a good bash 'em up there are much better ones on the market'
NICK ... 60%

Addictive Qualities52%
Summary: General Rating: In such a large genre Hercules - Slayer of the Damned! needs to be much more playable if it's to make any impression.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 32, August 1988   page(s) 66

Being a YS reader, and therefore a classicist at heart, I'm sure you'll be well aquainted with the legend of Hercules. No? Well I won't bore you with all the details. But in short, hercules (muscles, head-band and all the rest) was an ancient Greek who had to complete twelve labours, set as punishment by the King of Argos. And they weren't that easy, either.

However, none of this seems to have any relevance to the actual game, Hercules, as Gremlin seems to have abandoned what could have been quite an interesting plot and presented us with something which, apart from the beefy bloke and the number twelve, has little to do with any legend I've ever heard of!

As you'll probably have gathered from the screenshot, assuming it's in the right place this time (very droll, Ed), Hercules bares a startling semblance to a well-known martial arts game from a few years back, and about 59236911045 other games since. And what's more, rather than having to tackle a wide range of weird and wonderful mythical creatures, you get a skeleton with a big chopper (fnar), plonked in front of you. Hit it with your weapon (double fnar), a few times ( well, about 298235567 times actually), and it'll die, just as another one appears.

The rest you can probably guess. I'll just say that it happens twelve times (one for each labour, you see), and it's extremely boring. To make things a bit more interesting, no, bad word, different, a snake wriggles along the bottom of the screen and your blows are only effective while the skeleton's above it. Also there's a giant spider that drops down from above and tries to steal the skeletons. Add a minotaur at the end, and what've you got? Bizarre stuff!

Worse still, if that's at all possible, is that what little game content there is here, plays like a comatose underwater footballer with both his legs in plaster. The controls are awkward and not particularly responsive, the animation is jerky, the sound stinks and the whole thing probably wouldn't keep a sloth amused for more than a couple of minutes.

A bit of a 'nana, this one. At budget level it would have been pretty grotty, but at full price it doesn't have a hope. And from Gremlin, too! Shocking, I call it.

Value For Money3/10
Summary: A Herculean failure with about as much content as an empty bag.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 11, August 1988   page(s) 68

Gremlin's mythical game.

Subtitled "Slayer of the Damned'. You play the muscle-bound hero of Greek mythology and you've got 12 labours to complete. Well, you've actually got to hit (with your club) 12 icons that appear sequentially on-screen, whilst trying to survive being attacked by a skeleton. The graphics and animation are poor, the gameplay's just as bad and to cap it all it's boring. Hercules is not one of Gremlins better games

Reviewer: Andy Smith

Spec, £7.99cs, £12.99dk, Out Now
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
MAX, £7.99cs, Out Now

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 55/100
1 hour: 45/100
1 day: 40/100
1 week: 20/100
1 month: 10/100
1 year: 0/100

Ace Rating339/1000
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 81, July 1988   page(s) 44,45

MACHINES: CBM 64/Spectrum/Amstrad
SUPPLIER: Gremlin Graphics
PRICE: £9.99 CBM 64, £7.99 Spec

Ye gods! Let's shake, rattle and roll dem dry bones and make it a slay day. Gremlin tries its luck with Hercules - Slayer of the Damned at a Barbarian-ish clone.

But Hercules is a hit and myth affair which lacks the glamour, sound effects, graphical superiority and brilliant playability of Barbarian.

However it's not a bad little bash, thrash, drub and club game.

Here's the bare bones of the plot. Hercules, son of Zeus, has to complete 12 tasks. Yes, you guessed it, the twelve Labours of Hercules, Now this is not as complicated as it seems.

Playing the part of Hercules. armed with a club as well as a fists and feet, you battle away at sabre waving skeletons. Above and below the action are symbols representing the labours. Every so often a small puff of smoke appears on the screen and, if you manage to hit it with your club, you gain one of the labours. Collect all twelve and you move into the ultimate confrontation battle with the minotaur.

But several things stand in the way of collecting the labours besides the skeleton fighters. I found it very difficult to collect them. There I was thrashing away at the little puffs of smoke with little or no effect. And then when I did manage to collect a few this spider keeps popping down and whipping them back.

The fight action itself is fairly fast and the moves fairly limited. Some are given silly names such as Mountain Shaker, Titan's Gift and Pluto's messenger.

The most deadly appears to be Mountain Shaker which allows you to knock off the skeleton's head.

The sound is awful, making the blows have the all the impact power of a ping pong ball on water.

Personally, I never did make it to the final confrontation with the Minotaur. However you can see a demo of the battle so you know what's in store. Whether you decide it's worth going for is up to you.

The trouble with these combat games nowadays is that the standards are now very high.

Just think of The Way of The Exploding Fist, International Karate and Barbarian. Things just keep getting better. And if you can't top those for quality, then price has to be a big factor. Hercules doesn't have any rear new dimension to it in the quality stakes and it isn't cheap enough to make it a real star buy.

Still, beat 'em ups are always popular, and Herky-boy is such a great character that he sort of deserves a good game based around him, even it this ain't it.

It will be interesting to see how it does in the charts.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 8, July 1988   page(s) 70,71

Spectrum Cassette: £8.99, Diskette: £12.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99


The Spectrum version of Hercules is credited to two people: Des O'Toole for coding and Cheryl handling graphics. The Commodore version, by contrast, enjoys a veritable horde: John Tometzki (programming) Andy Morton (music), Norman Illings and Bob Hawker (graphics), while design needed Nicholas Mills, John Tometzki and Des O'Toole. Collectively all these people help make up Cynus Software.

Hercules, son of Zeus the Olympian king of gods, and the man famous for his 12 impossible tasks, joined Jason for many adventures in search of the Golden Fleece. As one of Jason's Argonauts he fought against a horde of skeletons, and it is this battle which the game celebrates.

You (Hercules) fight one skeleton after another - while simultaneously attempting to collect all 12 Herculean Tasks, represented by glowing icons falling from the top of the screen. To collect the Tasks, Hercules hits them with his club. When he has them all he can then go on to his final confrontation with Nessus, a massive centaur.

The weapons are club, fists and feet. In true Barbarian fashion eight combat moves are accessed with fire pressed, all given names such as Mountain Shaker and Pluto's Messenger. There's even an overhead blow much like the decapitation move in the Palace game, but it can be a source of irritation since pushing up without fire pressed turns Hercules to face the other way.

A more original touch is the magical ability of the creatures which can only be harmed when standing over a writhing snake depicted at the bottom of the screen. When Hercules is doing well the snake shortens, if he's losing, it helpfully lengthens. To further complicate matters a spider descends from the screen's top to steal already collected Labours. Hercules must hit the spider to stop this happening. All the Aegean mythological fun fails to stimulate; the games based on a tired formula and fails to bring anything new or excitingly different to the genre.

Summary: The Spectrum version awards only one life and energy is represented as a tug-of-war between Hercules and the skeletons. Graphically Hercules and his enemies are well represented, but sluggish to respond to controls.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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