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Video Game / Hercules

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Zero to Hero

Disney's Hercules, also known in Europe as Disney's Action Game Featuring Hercules, is an action video game for the PlayStation and Microsoft Windows, released on June 20, 1997 by Disney Interactive, based on the animated film of the same name. It was released a week prior to the film's release.

This Licensed Game contains the following tropes:

  • 2½D: The game is a sidescroller platformer, rendered with 3D backgrounds populated by 2D sprite characters. Hercules can even walk into the foreground or background in certain areas.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Plenty of it, due to taking scenes from the movie and expanding them into full levels. Examples include:
    • In the film, Hercules immediately arrives at the part of the woods where he finds Meg and Nessus. In this game's "The Centaurs' Forest" level, Hercules has to explore the forest, fighting with other centaurs along the way.
    • Herc's battles against the Medusa, Minotaur, and Harpies, which are only briefly glimpsed in the film, are fully seen as boss battles in this game.
    • "Passageways of Eternal Torment" shows Herc's journey through the underworld to confront Hades, which is not shown in the film, and the following boss fight has him fight Hades directly.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • Hercules regains his strength by drinking "Herculade"... in levels set before the "Zero to Hero" song, prior to him becoming a hero and the drink's spokesperson.
    • In the film, Hercules uses his super strength to cause a rockslide to kill the Hydra. This isn't the case in "The Hydra Canyon", where a big rock falls on the Hydra without any prior setup. The most we get is small rocks falling throughout the boss fight as a hazard.
  • Adaptational Badass: Hades in the film never fights Hercules directly, while in the game he teleports around slinging fireballs.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the original film, the man in Thebes who tries to sell Herc and Phil a sundial seems rather shady. In this game, he drops a ton of item pickups, making him a very helpful NPC.
  • Ascended Extra: The "Zero to Hero" song sequence in the film contain many brief cameos of Greek monsters, such as Medusa, Minotaur, and Harpy. In this game, they are given greater prominence: Minotaur is a Mini-Boss, Medusa is a boss, and Harpy is a Wolfpack Boss that is later degraded to a common mook.
  • Background Boss: The Minotaur stands in the background, actually blocking Herc's path up a staircase. From its position, it throws chunks of rubble and debris at Hercules. One method to defeating the Minotaur is by picking up larger blocks and throwing them into the background.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: Medusa would be unstoppable... if only she wasn't in a lair filled with mirrors.
  • Boss Banter:
    • Hades is constantly throwing quips and one-liners at Hercules during his boss fight.
    • Inverted during "Medusa's Lair", where Hercules is the one saying quips and one-liners every time Medusa takes damage, while Medusa herself remains silent aside from unintelligible hisses.
  • Boss-Only Level: "Hydra Canyon", "Medusa's Lair", and "Vortex of Souls" only consist of the Hydra, Medusa, and Hades boss fights, respectively.
  • Bullet Hell: Hydros's segment of "Titan Flight" is full of falling icicles, making it very difficult for Hercules and Pegasus to navigate without taking at least a couple hits.
  • Checkpoint: Passing Hermes in a level will activate a checkpoint. If Hercules dies after that point, he will respawn at the most recent Hermes position.
  • Cutscene Boss: The Cyclops and Titans are not fought in gameplay, as Hercules simply defeats them in movie clips after beating their respective levels.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Hades does not require any special tactics to fight. Just keep on attacking him and slowly whittle down his enormous health pool.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletal mooks are common enemies in "The Big Olive", "Medusa's Lair", and "Passageways of Eternal Torment".
  • Degraded Boss: In their first appearance, Harpies are a Wolfpack Boss in "The Big Olive". In "Titan Flight", they're just basic mooks.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Playing on the easiest difficulty ends the game after "Titan Flight", giving players a screen saying that a true hero would play on a higher difficulty in order to access the two underworld levels.
  • Eye Beams: Medusa's iconic deadly stare is represented as a pair of green laser beams firing out of her eyes.
  • Final Boss: Hades, naturally, as he's the Big Bad of the movie. He is the boss fought in the final level, "Vortex of Souls".
  • Flunky Boss: Medusa calls in an endless supply of skeleton warriors to attack Hercules in addition to her own attacks.
  • Funnel Cloud Journey: A portion of "Titan Flight" takes place in an area controlled by Stratos. The greatest hazard is all the debris flying through the tornado, which Hercules and Pegasus need to avoid.
  • Game-Over Man: When the player gets a game over, they're treated to a clip of Hades triumphantly smoking a cigar. Quite fitting, considering he's not only the Big Bad but also the lord of the underworld, where the souls of the deceased go.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • According to Greek myth, Medusa's gaze will turn victims to stone, and the Disney's Hades Challenge PC game (as well as Medusa's defeat animation in this game) shows that this ability is canon in the Disney Hercules adaptation. In this game, however, if Hercules gets hit by Medusa's Eye Beams, he simply flinches and takes some damage.
    • "Vortex of Souls" opens with a clip from the movie, in which Hercules makes a deal with Hades to retrieve Meg's soul in exchange for his own. This has zero impact on the level's actual gameplay, which is just a straightforward boss fight against Hades.
    • The human thugs can be defeated with a sword, though their animation upon defeat suggests that Herc only uses Good Old Fisticuffs (which is one of the moves he can use) to do it.note 
  • Ground Pound:
    • While in midair, Hercules can slam down on the ground. It's not useful in combat (outside of one strategy for fighting the Minotaur), but it can be used to break through weak ground and access secret areas.
    • One of Medusa's attacks is jumping in the air and slamming down on the ground. The force of the impact causes the entire lair to shake, dropping debris upon Hercules.
  • Guide Dang It!: The boss fight with Nessus. He is immune to standard forms of attack. The player hurts him by jumping on his back, something there is no indication they can or are supposed to do.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: To some extent. While the levels are considered rather challenging, most of the bosses are pretty easy when you know how to tackle them.
  • Homing Projectile: The fire sword power-up let Hercules shoot fireballs that pursue nearby enemies. Hades shoots his own homing fireballs during his boss battle.
  • In Medias Res: The game starts in the middle of one of Herc's training sessions with Phil, skipping his childhood, teenage years, and much of the first half of the story.
  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: The flock of Harpies fought in Thebes will occasionally snatch passing civilians and lift them into the air, and Hercules needs to cut them down before they can leave.
  • Medium Blending: The game features 2D sprites for most characters, while the levels themselves are modeled in 3D.
  • Nintendo Hard: As per Disney tie-in tradition. Standouts include the three levels where Hercules just runs forwards, and "Titan Flight" for being an Auto-Scrolling Level that has even more movement limitation given Hercules is riding Pegasus.
  • Password Save: Each level can be accessed by giving Meg the correct sequence of four vases. This is redundant in the PC version, which has the option to directly select any level.
  • Pivotal Boss: The Hydra and Medusa stay in place while Hercules runs a circle around them, although he can't run a complete circle around the Hydra due to rocks blocking its backside.
  • Save Token: In order to save, you need to collect 4 vases in a level, which gives you a Password Save for the level. To get continues, you need to collect all the Hercules letters in a level.
  • Spelling Bonus: A continue is won by collecting the letters "H-E-R-C-U-L-E-S" spread across the levels.
  • Stationary Boss: The Hydra, Medusa, and Minotaur bosses all stay in place while they fight you. Hydra and Medusa are of the Pivotal Boss variety, while Minotaur is simply a Background Boss.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss:
    • The Hydra lunges at you, allowing you to chop off its head. Otherwise, it stays safely out of range of Herc's sword.
    • The way to beat Medusa is to get her to use her Eye Beams on all the pillars in her lair to break them down, then do so again at the mirrors that fall down.
  • Taken for Granite: Once Medusa's health is depleted from repeatedly looking at herself in the mirror, she turns to stone right before exploding.
  • Tennis Boss: While not an actual boss fight, the Centaurs in the background of "The Centaurs' Forest" throw large boulders at Hercules. With the right timing, Hercules can hit the boulders with his sword to knock them back towards the Centaurs.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In "Titan Flight", Hercules has the option of rescuing the Olympian Gods. It's not required to beat the level, but doing so will make the freed Gods reward Herc with a large number of item pickups.
  • Wolfpack Boss: In "The Big Olive", Hercules needs to kill a certain number of Harpies, which is indicated by their boss health meter, before the flock eventually gives up and flies away.