The Deception of 'The Battle of Olympus'

Don’t let the awesome cover art fool you—The Battle of Olympus is a deceptive game and Andrew Martin explains why.

Nintendo

I don’t remember how old I was or how exactly I came about owning The Battle of Olympus for the Nintendo Entertainment System. In seeing that the game was released in 1989 and we didn’t have an NES until I was 5 or 6, I’m going to guess that it was 1991. If that was indeed the year, then I was newly 6 years old (born in ’85) and eager to get my hands on a new game. At the time, I can vaguely remember playing the hell out of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda to the point that they were probably why our original NES died. Or maybe, just maybe, it entered the console graveyard because it had gotten sick from playing one of the worst video games of all time.

Look, before you get all on my case like “No, Andrew these are the worst video games ever!“, I will concede that, yes, a lot of those games are absolutely awful and deserve their membership on that list. However, I’m also of the opinion that shitty knockoff games like The Battle of Olympus deserve just as much hate as something like, say, Superman 64 or whatever the hell it’s actually called. Also, I took it personally that this particular game was so terrible because I was, again, only 6 years old and spent what was likely a majority of my birthday cash on it.

Anyway, I was drawn The Battle of Olympus like a fish to a lure—in other words, I judged a book by its cover. I mean, just look at the artwork!

Are you seriously going to even attempt to argue that this game doesn’t look phenomenal based on its cover?! IT’S A DUDE WITH A HUGE WEAPON IN FRONT OF A GIGANTIC DRAGON AND A SNAKE-LIKE MONSTER! TWO MONSTERS! ON ONE COVER! Surely, I thought, This game must be amazing.

Wrong. Dead wrong. Well, not dead wrong, but I digress.

Battle of Olympus

As soon as I popped the cartridge into the NES, I was disappointed. Immediate dissatisfaction isn’t anything new for a child who had just been enjoying the living hell out of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Yeah, I had high standards for a 6-year-old, but so what? I expected greatness, especially considering the cash I dropped on this piece of crap! But there I was, an unnamed olympian making my way through, uh, Greece as means of getting to Mt. Olympus. Now, that’s my assumption based on the name, artwork, and imagery, because if you think I made it far in this game you’re insane.

I don’t think I had played Zelda II: The Adventure of Link at that point, though it’s certainly possible. Either way, I now obviously realize that The Battle of Olympus is the definition of a rip-off. IT IS THE SAME GAME BUT WITH A GREEK TWIST. Joy to the world, I had been deceived.

It’s not just that the game is fashioned after one of the most frustrating Zelda games in the universe, it’s that I had absolutely no desire to go through all of this as a young kid. The enemies aren’t interesting and neither are the weapons. Really, you start me out with a club, which I use to beat up gelatinous purple things? C’mon, how is that supposed to draw me in?

The reading I’ve done on The Battle of Olympus actually makes it sound somewhat-intriguing, even if it is an Adventure of Link clone. You can get power-ups for your weapons, of which there are many, and fighting mythological Greek monsters sounds kind of cool. But why would I subject myself to this when I could just as easily play God of War? I think I’d rather put the cash down to do that than even waste my time finding an emulator and ROM (not that I would…) to play The Battle of Olympus.

Hey, readers, do you have any memories of being deceived by a game based on artwork, reviews, hype, etc.? Let me know in the comments.