IroIro Retro Emporium Logo\\

The Battle of Olympus

Back in the age of 8 and 16-bit consoles, a lot of games to come out on those platforms tended to be quite linear (sometimes an unfair generalization, but that’s what people thought). They were very straightforward A to B to C affairs. Players knew exactly where they were and the game would happily tell them where they needed to go next. Games that were a little more open-ended, letting players explore a bit and figure things out for themselves were a little rarer. This is where Battle of Olympus comes in. This is the sort of action adventure where players needed to pay attention to what NPCs were saying if they wanted to have any idea what they should do. All the while, they were free to wander around at their leisure for the most part, all while soaking in a game steeped in Greek mythology and history.

The game has players take control of Orpheus as he goes in search of his lover, Helene, who has been kidnapped by Hades and whisked away to the underworld. What transpires is an adventure spanning much of ancient Greece, as Orpheus visits several city states and gods, trying to gain the treasures he’ll need in order to rescue his girlfriend.

Battle of Olympus went with a perspective similar to A Link to the Past with players viewing Orpheus from the side as they controlled him, and the little Greek hero controlling very similarly. This game throws a lot more enemies at players, though, which necessitates either stabbing a lot of monsters in the face or getting good at jumping in order to avoid combat and run right past them.

Right from the start, players will see a number of buildings that they can enter and then talk with the places’ residents. This is actually very important because they all give little bits of info about the items that need to be found and who to talk to in order to get help. If one ignores them and wanders off on their own, they may go on a merry journey around ancient Greece, but they’ll have no idea what they actually need to do in order to progress. Sure, this is actually quite a lot of fun, but there are times when what NPCs have to say will just make life a whole lot easier.

Nevertheless, the open-endedness of the game is rather enjoyable, just wandering around from one city to the next without a care in the world, finding new monsters to fight, sometimes learning the hard way that certain areas have extremely tough baddies lurking in them. The game not taking players by the hand let people discover much of the game on their own.

If someone made a point of talking with all of the different NPCs, it still took some time to figure out where to go, as they could be short on details at times. So, there was always a need for players to use their heads and experiment a little when trying to find the next boss to beat or the next item to attain.

Fighting the hordes of enemies between Orpheus and his main squeeze took some practice. There are a number of different baddies in Battle of Olympus, each with their own quirks in terms of how they move about and attack. Players will need to practice a little bit when encountering new ones in order to figure out how to dispatch them efficiently. The game generally isn’t too punishing when getting hit by cannon fodder. They may knock off a few health, but assuming that the player kills the things frequently enough, they’ll drop stuff that will replenish Orpheus’ hit points from time to time. So, assuming one isn’t just haphazardly running into everything, it shouldn’t be too hard to survive the weaker enemies in the game. That being said, things do scale up with time, especially when it comes to bosses, so players will need to be on their toes later on.

Looking at the game in action, it’s visuals are very similar to The Legend of Zelda: The Adventures of Link. The level of detail is about the same, while character and NPC designs look strikingly similar. Everything is shown from a side-scrolling perspective, though, as there is no overhead map in Battle of Olympus. For its time, the graphics were decent, but nothing that would knock people’s socks off.

At the end of the day, what really makes Battle of Olympus worth spending some time with is its open-endedness. Just wandering around ancient Greece, fighting monsters, talking with townsfolk, and gathering magical items is a lot of fun. There are plenty of other games of the time out there with similar ingredients, but they almost always guided players down a very linear path to get things done. That this game left players to sort out how they needed to go about this on their own is really quite satisfying.

- IroIro
September 6, 2019
Platform: NES
Genre: Action
Developer: Infinity
Publisher: Imagineer
Released: 1988

Battle of Olympus NES Image 1

Battle of Olympus NES Image 2

Battle of Olympus NES Image 3

Battle of Olympus NES Image 4