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Video Game / The Battle of Olympus

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A cover art so awesome that the game will inevitably be a letdown.

The Battle of Olympus is a video game developed by Infinity and published by Brøderbund Software, released in the US in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and on Game Boy in Europe. It's a side-scrolling adventure game based on the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice; the heroine in the game is referred to as Helene instead.

The story is that Helene has fallen victim to the bite of a poisonous snake and has been taken to Hades. Orpheus rushes to her rescue upon hearing of this. The game combines many different Greek legends, culminating in monsters and items that are found throughout Greek mythology.

The Battle of Olympus contains examples of:

  • Actionized Adaptation: The myth had Orpheus's journey be pacifistic, while the game has Orpheus traveling the world and Underworld to rescue his love from Hades with powerful artifacts and weapons at his disposal, ending by slaying Hades himself.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Eurydice's name was changed to Helene, perhaps either because it was a shorter name to fit with the 6-letter limit or because it was a simpler name for a Japanese audience to pronounce.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is a tragedy where he fails to save her from the Underworld, but in the game he frees her successfully and they watch the sun rise together.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Circe. As opposed to her initial depiction in The Odyssey as a vamp who turned sailors into animals, this game turns her into a helpful witch who will sell Orpheus the Salamander Shield.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Circe looks like the other old women in the game rather than the beautiful vamp of The Odyssey.
  • All There in the Manual: The game makes no mention of Orpheus and Helene. The game allows the player to write the character's names with no default.
  • Arcadia: You start out in the literal Arcadia. As expected, it's idyllic-looking and probably the least dangerous area in the game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Divine Sword's special ability, the Power of Argus, which shaves off a little HP with each use, until the Bracelet of Ares is obtained.
  • A Winner Is You: You rescue Helene from Hades and you get a final shot of Orpheus and Helene staring into the sunrise and that's all you get. At least the music is nice.
  • Bag of Spilling: The player's death results in the loss of half of the carried wealth (Olives). With a max of 99 Olives and a few items costing not too far less than that, add in the ease of death, and it becomes hard to obtain those items.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Moon Orb, which only has a use in the final battle.
  • Continuing is Painful: You have unlimited continues, but dying slashes your current olive amount in half, which means more grinding.
  • Cue the Sun: At the end of the game. You can even recue the sun after the credit roll.
  • Damsel in Distress: A rare case of the damsel having already been taken to Hades (died) when the story begins.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Hades goes down surprisingly quickly for a god.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: In the myth, Hades had Eurydice because, you know, she died, and he can't just let dead people come back to life. In this game, he orchestrated Helene's death and intends to marry her. Or keep her as a statue. One of the two.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: A very low-level enemy in Attica.
  • Fetch Quest: Obtaining 20 Salamander Skins to trade for the Salamander Shield.
  • Final Boss: Hades, wearing his trademark Helm of Invisibility. Orpheus must use the otherwise useless Moon Orb to reveal only his shadow. After a certain amount of damage, the helm's magic ends and Hades is revealed (though his tactics remain the same).
  • Guide Dang It!: If the games' enemies and bosses don't murder you, you'll at the very least be wandering trying to figure out what to do next.
  • Heart Container: Ambrosia, the mythological food of the Gods, increases the player's Max HP.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Both the NES game and the Game Boy game allow you to name the hero and heroine.
  • In a Single Bound: The Sandals of Hermes increase overall jumping ability to a tolerable level and allow the character to invert personal gravity and walk on the ceiling. No, they won't activate unless there's a ceiling to "fall" up to.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Staff of Fennel's fire ability, while nearly necessary to attack floor-crawling foes, is required to burn down red thorny hedges.
  • Leap of Faith: To find the salamanders (and the Ambrosia sold near them), you must jump into the correct Bottomless Pit. Out of all the bottomless pits in the game, there are a total of two (which are unmarked) that are not of the instant-death variety.
  • Magical Mystery Doors: Most of the mazes are like this.
  • Magic Skirt: The hero's tunic doesn't obey the laws of gravity when inverting with the Sandals of Hermes.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Many of the late-game areas are geared to give monsters a much greater advantage, and several jumps require absolute precision.
  • No Hero Discount: You may be on an epic quest to save your lady-love from the pits of the underworld, but the gods are still going to demand that you fork over a ton of olives before bestowing their blessings on you. Justified in that the Greek gods weren't particularly altruistic, but still, in the myths their divine favour wasn't quite this... negotiable.
  • Password Save: Speaking with Zeus or other gods will have them give out passwords to save and load your game.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The Game Boy version has "Toccata and Fugue" play in the Underworld stages, while the NES game uses it in the gods' temples and password save rooms.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: The whole game is about Orpheus gathering the weapons and tools needed to take the fight to Hades and rescue his love.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Consider Eurydice being renamed Helene to be the first of many examples.
  • Shoplift and Die: Do not try to buy from Ares when carrying insufficient olives. You will lose your shoes.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Snakes and salamanders (which are portrayed as snake-like in this game) are one type of enemy. Once you get to Phrygia, you'll meet giant snakes as well. There is also the Lamia, a boss who is half snake, half woman.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Falling into any body of water kills you.
  • Sword Beam: The Divine Sword emits small, short-range lightning bolts that drain the life from the player, unless you have the Bracelet of Ares. Also, the player can unlock the ability to throw fire from the Staff of Fennel.
  • Taken for Granite: After the player defeats Hades, he encounters a petrified Helene. The power of love (literally) quickly reverses this.
  • Violence is the Only Option: Unlike the mythological Orpheus, who quelled threats with the beauty of his music, this one grabs power-ups to fight Hades one-on-one.
  • Weird Currency: Apparently ancient Greece is on the olive standard.