The Battle of Olympus is a new adventure title from Broderbund. This game should draw many comparisons to Faxanadu and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link with similar action and game design, except this title features a Greek mythology theme. Given that the chip shortage that plagued the NES last year has finally subsided, we bet that many Christmas lists are filled with games that came out last year. With more choices than ever before (and quality ones at that) is there a reason to choose this Game Pak over the others?
You play as Orpheus, who must rescue his recently deceased lover, Helene, from Hades. He of course is the God of the Netherworld and is the game’s main antagonist. The world of Olympus is made up of eight regions, which are all interconnected. Each area contains a different God, such as Zeus, Ares, Athena, and others to meet and assist you on your quest.
You’ll speak with people in the town (most of the regions have a central village) and then go exploring in the rest of the realm. Unlike other similar games, people you talk to will actually give useful information and hints, rather than useless drivel. Although there are many areas to explore, you typically have a pretty clear path on where to go to next. This game isn’t jam-packed with confusing riddles and hidden, nearly impossible areas to get to. The ultimate goal is to find the three fragments of love from the elusive nymphs. Once you get these three items you can travel to Tartarus, which is Hades’ lair.
Each realm will have at least one boss battle, and defeating it will usually unlock a special item to help you reach new parts of the game. The big bads are all popular figures in mythology, such as a Hydra, Cyclops, and a Minotaur. However, when the game starts off, you’ll be fighting simple enemies that resemble Slimes from Dragon Warrior. Some examples of special items you’ll earn are Hermes’ Sandals, which allow you to jump higher and The Salamander Shield that will protect you against fire.
Much like Faxanadu or Simon’s Quest, you’ll need to return to previously explored regions when you get new items or information. Luckily all of them have their own theme and are remarkably distinct from one another. Even though this game isn’t as difficult as those other adventures, it certainly helps to make notes and draw mini-maps.
The action in this game is certainly influenced from Zelda II. You are first armed with a club, but eventually you’ll find more powerful swords. Jumping and attacking almost feels directly ripped off from Nintendo’s high profile entry, but you won’t find Link’s ultra cool down or upward thrusts here – which is disappointing.
Olives serve as the game’s currency, which can be spent on health or defensive items that you’ll want to stock up on for boss battles. When you die, continuing takes away half of your olives, but you’ll restart near your origin of defeat. Visiting the Gods will also give you the ‘Magic Words’, which is your password No battery backup is unfortunate because the passwords are extremely long and easy to mess up. You might want to just leave your Nintendo on overnight.
The game’s writing and slight humor is a high point. Unlike many others, the clues and information make sense, are helpful, and was translated with care. I actually looked forward to talking to the inhabitants, plus all of the gods have different personalities and the mythological beasts are really cool. The story is better than most other games, although some of the imagery is a little too light for Greek Mythology and I wish this had a darker tone.
The graphics are bright and colorful, which isn’t a bad thing, but there’s something about Kid Icarus and its dark and brooding color scheme that makes it more memorable. Also your character, Orpheus, looks pretty wimpy and isn’t going to win any Hero of the Year awards from Nintendo Times.
The soundtrack has a huge variety of music and each region has its own memorable theme. Broderbund’s other big titles this year, Legacy of the Wizard and The Guardian Legend, also were strong in the audio department. The game has very responsive and smooth controls, however, the graphics did little to stand out, and most of the backgrounds and enemy designs were simply above average.
Battle of Olympus Review
- Graphics - 6.5/106.5/10
- Sound - 8.5/108.5/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
If you enjoy epic quests with solid boss fights and lots of regions to explore, you should be delighted with The Battle of Olympus. It really does take a lot of the great ideas from Zelda II, Castlevania II, and Faxanadu and puts its own twist and theme on it. I’m not convinced that this is a better title than any of those, as it lacks true innovation and some of the production quality could have been improved upon. This game wasn’t quite as addictive as those other hit titles. However, this is still a great adventure title that should keep you busy for a long time.
Aaron got his NES in 1991 and has loved and collected video games ever since. In addition to gaming, he enjoys Stephen King novels, Twins Baseball, and his cats.