I don’t mind telling you that I’m excited about tonight’s game, Disney’s Hades Challenge, and for two main reasons: because Disney’s 1997 Hercules movie remains my all-time favorite animated Disney movie, and because their first Hercules-based computer game was also very good. That title was a pure action game featuring the hero himself. This game takes a different approach and bills itself as an adventure/strategy game and the star is you. It seems that Hades and other monsters are menacing the lands again and Hercules is busy with some other stuff. So Zeus enlists your help and sends you over to Philoctetes, a.k.a. Phil, who was voiced by Danny DeVito in the movie. It sounds like DeVito in this game as well but his name does not show up in the credits (though James Woods lends his original voice talent as Hades).
Phil gets you going on your first quest: To do something about the Minotaur that is ravaging the island of Crete. So I get in the boat I am issued — which is none other than the legendary Argo, you know, the one from Jason and the Argonauts — and head over to Crete to scope out the situation. Things are weird over there. When you first get to the island, you can see that the Minotaur is indeed causing chaos with impunity. So you need to go visit Daedalus. Thing is, the king is holding out on you and won’t let you see him until you bring him the gift of a new centerpiece for his table:
So you return to the dock in search of a statue that would make a suitable centerpiece for such a snobbish, slothful monarch. Where am I supposed to find a statue? Fortuitously, a statue peddler appears with a set of four statues and says that they’re all free today and that the king would love them. One by one, I bring them to the king with the peddler’s highest recommendation.
Every time, King Minos rejects the statue. I thought it was exceptionally odd and convenient that this statue hustler showed up when he did, and that his free merchandise didn’t seem to do the trick. Somehow, he reminded me of Pain and Panic, Hades’ pair of sniveling little hench-demons. I was warned to watch out for these two and that they would be working to thwart me. If that was their mission, they did a remarkable job the first time out since when I ran out of statues, the game threw this assertion dialog:
A lot of information there. For a lesser game, I would have called it quits at this point. But this game has piqued my interest. Besides, I wanted to see if the bug was reproducible. It was not. However, going in and out of the king’s chambers, I couldn’t help but notice that he has a certain infatuation with bulls. Eventually, I noticed the little bull statue to the right of the peddler. He was trying to distract me and when I took the statue to Minos, Hades showed up to adminstratively reprimand his underlings as Hades is wont to do. Turns out I was right about the statue guy.
So the king grants me the honor of speaking with Daedalus, the ostensible Greek with a thick French accent. He is making progress on the maze which will trap the man-bull but needs some supplies, including bricks, wood, straw, and stone. These are scattered about the various isles. The closest item, wood, is stored in a boat docked right here in Crete. Let’s review the heroic acts thus far:
- delivering a horned statue to a royal prick
- breaking & entering
- grand theft lumber
To get at the wood, you have to solve this puzzle:
It’s a good thing I have a working knowledge of Greek letters; I wouldn’t have had any clue on this one otherwise. Can you see the solution?
I was bracing myself for more puzzles — and probably even a sliding tile puzzle — on the other islands before procuring the other needed materials. But no, the junk was just laying around on the shores when I sailed in. Though that wasn’t a surprise in war-ravaged Troy where I simply had to scavenge some bricks.
So you take these pieces back to Daedalus and he is able to construct a number of walls. However, when it comes time to trap the Minotaur, Daedalus enlists your help once more to rotate various walls in order to trap the creature. It’s an interesting puzzle:
Other notes I made during the course of my brief playing:
- The ‘wait’ mouse icon when the program is busy with an animation (such an icon is traditionally represented as a watch or hourglass) is a sundial.
- Hades appears after a quest with some Olympian god quiz and other mythological trivia. Statues of various gods and goddesses are littered across the land. Click on them to hear what they specialize in. It’s useful knowledge for these situations.
- Appears to be a Smacker-assisted game. Smacker is used for pure audio in many cases.
- Hot spots are very hard to find sometimes. You wind up just methodically scanning the screen (a.k.a. pixel hunting) waiting for the mouse cursor to change. It makes you long for another puzzle with a concrete goal.
- The credits are extremely long for what doesn’t appear to be a very involved game, but perhaps I oversimplify. Maybe there are a lot of people to validate that everything about the game conforms to official Disney standards.
BTW, this game definitely goes on the list of games to revisit one day. Much fun, silly though it may be.