"A Mario Kart clone featuring characters and stages from Greek mythology?" we exclaimed. "By Zeus, this is going to be amazing!"
We should have doused our initial excitement a touch. Turns out Heracles: Chariot Racing is not quite the master-piece we'd expected, but it's certainly not a Greek tragedy either. With a variety of playable mythological faces up for selection, and a mix of unique tracks based upon Greek lore, Chariot Racing puts a promising foot forward from the off-set.
Unfortunately, the game's appeal is dampened by some shoddy control choices. Accelerate is mapped to the X button, while drift mechanics are placed on both shoulder buttons. Weapon pick-ups can be released by hitting the Square button, but we found this decision awkward, causing us to relinquish our grip on the accelerate button and subsequently get punished by the game's rubberband AI. There's no way to change the controls, but we would have preferred weapons to be mapped to the L trigger, allowing it to be pressed at the same time as the accelerator.
With the controls so awkward, we found ourselves wrestling against the game rather than enjoying the imaginative track design and abundance of single-player modes on offer. With tournaments, time-trials and free races vying for your attention, Chariot Racing is quite a meaty offering.
As such Heracles: Chariot Racing feels like a good idea squandered. The core driving is pretty fun, and the track-design and visuals are great too. But the poorly refined controls kill much of the satisfaction you'll get out of the game, especially when playing in the competitive modes. Chariot Racing comes close to filling the PSP's kart-racing niche, but it's just not got the polish to compete with more popular products on alternative platforms.