The Battle of Olympus


Review by · August 31, 2000

Although I will never be able to say that I have learned everything I will ever need to know from video games, I will admit that I picked up a few little mental tidbits from the countless hours I wasted in this manner. Final Fantasy Tactics taught me the difficulties of multi-national translations. The Worms series taught me the physics of projectile velocity, falling objects, and even that sheep can fly if you give them a cape. The many versions of Pokémon taught me that little kids do the stupidest things when forced by peer pressure. Greek mythology has been explained repeatedly in many games, but the first professor on the subject should be known as Battle of Olympus.

Long ago in the pristine land of Greece, a young man and his love are out for a walk. All is going well, but suddenly, a venomous snake bites the lovely young woman, killing her on the spot (Oh, boo hoo. After one snakebite, she’s dead. They bite you throughout the game and you’re still standing.) and sending her to Hades. Fraught with grief, you pray to Aphrodite to let you follow her and convince Hades to let her go, and moved by your heartfelt devotion, she decides to help you save your love. She even convinces many of the other gods to grant you their powers and treasures to help you on your quest, but first you have to find them. In other words, it’s you, armed with a hunk of wood and help from some toga wearing immortals, versus every bad thing in Greece ever. Not exactly fair, but it makes for a nice Action RPG.

The best way to describe Battle of Olympus is to say that Zelda 2 goes Greek. You run around the many regions of Greece, finding equipment, killing monsters, saving people, slaying monsters, searching for keys to Hades’ domain, smashing monsters, beating on monsters, gouging at monsters, torching monsters, and picking up olives off the ground to buy stuff with. This side-scroller has a nice variety of beasts and baddies to throw at you, but it has a lot of palette swapping. Although it seems like you just have to be in the right area with the right gear in order to move forward in the game, it is actually much harder than it looks, mainly due to the many mazes that are built into the levels. Once you get to the forest region, you’ll know what I mean.

There is no experience or levels for you to gain, but you can extend your life bar by finding Ambrosia, the food of the gods (Myth Fact #1). Nectar wasn’t left out either, and by filling your canteen at a fountain with this drink, you can fully restore your life at any time. Although it isn’t anything too impressive, Battle of Olympus is fun, and Gameplay deserves an 84%.

Cyclopes, Graeus sisters, Pegasuses and more can be found in this quasi-educational cartridge, and each special enemy has its own little background section in the manual (Myth Fact #2). Although a few famous beasts of yore are missing, like Scylla, Medusa, and so on, this game made sure to include as many famous horrors as they could. Sadly, the word “horrors” could not have been used at a better time. Most of the game, you walk around in your little green outfit, you fight the happy little demonic opponents that get in your way, and the whole game is graphically wholesome and perfectly average for the NES. The bosses ruin this little scenario within 30 minutes of playing. Many look like normal enemies, having no special appearance at all. Others are hideously ugly and move with terribly animated motions. I liked the last boss’ appearance best of all, but that was probably because he was invisible for half of the fight. Aside from the bosses, I only have the repetitive backgrounds to complain about, but they aren’t too bad. Graphics get a 70%.

Like many other NES titles, Battle of Olympus’ music stuck with me for years after I stopped playing it. Although some of them weren’t very authentic, (Go to Zeus’ chambers and you can listen to classical music. Something seems amiss…) many were able to express the feelings of the surroundings easily. However, they did get a little repetitive, but not enough to make you mute the game. In fact, that didn’t bother me at all! The sound effects were pretty average, being made of almost nothing but blips and thuds and such. I feel that that is what the NES did best though, and I proudly give Battle of Olympus a 90% in the Sound/Music department.

It is very hard to fit a good plot into a game like this, so don’t expect too much here. Although it is supposed to be a love story, most of the game is spent hitting every critter that comes your way. The people you meet are willing to share a little hint or two with you, but most of the story is found out in the beginning and near the end. I liked what story they had, though, and I had no problem getting into the game. The NES did handicap it greatly, but Storyline still gets a 75%.

The controls in Battle of Olympus were impeccable. When you hit the attack button, you attacked. When you pressed down to duck, you ducked. Even jumping was made easy for you. The game was hard, but not because of any mechanical errors. The only problem I saw was that it took a while to master the anti-gravity jump you eventually get. Controls receive a near perfect 96%.

This cartridge took me very long to beat, and I have just one more thing to tell you. When you reach Hades, a man down there will tell you a password so that you can start again later. Ignore this man! I don’t know if it was done on purpose, but his password is defective. You can’t trust anyone in the afterlife these days…

Battle of Olympus required skill, thought, luck, and patience to beat. Like many early games, it lacked the mercy that many recent games have. In exchange for this, you are given enveloping music, decent visuals, and a chance to go medieval on an immortal. If you need a challenge and can find this game, play it. You won’t be disappointed. Overall, Battle of Olympus gets an 88%.

Gameplay – Sweet and Simple. 88%
Sound/Music – Not awe inspiring, but nice. 90%
Storyline – Did you know that Prometheus is an old man and not a god? (Incorrect Myth Fact #1) 75%
Controls – Outstanding. 96%
Overall – Give me a gyro. 88%

Overall Score 88
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Andrew DeMario

Andrew DeMario

Andrew went by several names here, starting as a reader reviewer under the name Dancin' Homer. Later known as Slime until we switched to real names, Andrew officially joined RPGFan as a staff reviewer in 2001 and wrote reviews until 2009. Andrew's focus on retro RPGs and games most others were unwilling to subject themselves to were his specialty.