Throwback Thursday - The Battle of Olympus on NES
I once made my mother make a Greek dessert not because we were Greek (we are not), not because I had previously enjoyed it, not because I saw it and it looked good, but because it strengthened my character in The Battle of Olympus. My mother asked me what dessert I would like for my birthday (probably my 8th or 9th), and I answered Ambrosia, and on that fateful day I tried it and was disappointed that it was not delicious nor did I feel like it would return me to strength should I be brutally beaten by a Cyclops. I later tried an olive because it was in the game and from that point on I no longer took food cues from video games because olives were and continue to be disgusting. This foray into international food shows how deeply my child mind was wrapped up in The Battle of Olympus, a game that stole countless hours of my life and helped me pass some tests on Greek Mythology later in high school.
Originally noted as a failure, or an over-hard knock-off of Zelda II, The Battle of Olympus is one of the greatest games released on the NES system. The game dropped in 1989 and placed you in the shoes of Orpheus who must court the gods for powerful items in order to rescue his lady, Helene, from Hades. You can ride a Pegasus, shoot fire with the Staff of Fennel, and rock some sweet kicks in the Sandals of Hermes while you battle Medusa and other monsters from Greek Mythology. The game is certainly harder than Zelda II, but it is also more direct, has more depth, and is more satisfying to beat. While Battle of Olympus suffered by comparison to the Zelda classic then, I think Zelda suffers more now by those who have played both and know that Olympus is superior. Maybe the game cover should have highlighted the titular hero and not the menacing creatures that await you. Perhaps the game just was buried in a year that also saw the releases of Duck Tales, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man 2, Blaster Master, Dragon Warrior, Gauntlet and Tetris. No matter the reason you and the world failed to support this game, if you slept on this title, find a copy, dust it off, and put on your big boy pants and get to work. Your true love got bit by a snake and you gotta rescue her from the Underworld.