Athena Review—Frustrating and Extremely Difficult

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As we’ve seen over the past few months, G1M2 have been releasing quite a few arcade games from yesteryear. Some of these Minis releases are a welcome return, while others are probably better left forgotten. Athena, unfortunately, is one of the latter.

For those of you who weren’t around in 1986, Athena was a fairly popular arcade game which was loosely based around the Greek goddess of wisdom and defensive warfare. The story goes that Athena, a selfish princess, had grown bored of her peaceful and monotonous life in her castle and desired excitement and adventure. One day, she opened The Door That Should Never Be Opened in the basement of Castle Victory and fell into another world, known as Fantasy World, where she was to defeat the evil emperor Dante.

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Athena is a side-scrolling platform game where you will need to collect a variety of power-ups, such as weapons or armour, that help you progress though several worlds and finally defeat Dante. The game at first glance looks quite fun, but within moments of playing Athena for the first time, I soon realized how wrong I was. Athena is frustratingly difficult; after hours of constantly trying to complete the first stage, I almost wished the game were on UMD just so I could snap the disc in two. It is nice that you are able to change some of the options in the game from the Pause Menu, from how much energy and how many lives you have to the difficulty level of the game. The downside is that even when I changed the difficulty, I failed to see any significant difference in the game except that the enemies do a little more damage on the harder difficulties, and when you play the game on the hardest difficulty, the enemies are a different colour.

Like many of the other SNK arcade classic Minis, you are able to add an endless amount of continue credits by pressing Triangle. Although this comes in handy (as I certainly needed them), it is extremely frustrating having to start from the beginning of a level or a checkpoint which is about halfway through each level every time you lose a life. What makes matters worse when you do continue from a checkpoint is that you don’t get to keep any weapons or armour you may have had when you first got there. As with other SNK Minis, you are able to save the game state at any point via the Pause Menu, and although this does make it a little easier than trying to get to a checkpoint, it also takes a little fun out of the game, especially if you have to save every few seconds. The controls are average at best, with Athena practically floating when she jumps, and just moving left and right feels a little rigid, especially by today’s standards. There are also times when the controls feel almost unresponsive; for example, instead of jumping over a tree stump or block, Athena will just jump upwards in front of it, as if stopped by some invisible wall, which inevitably slows you down or, at worst, causes you to get hit by an enemy you otherwise would have avoided. The sound effects are generic, and the music becomes irritating after only a short while. But, in its defence, the game is over 20 years old, and the sound effects and BGM are expectedly basic.

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The graphics aren’t actually that bad and are almost, if not exactly, the same as they were when the game was originally released 25 years ago. The only real complaint I have would be the images of Athena on either side of the game screen. Thankfully, you can change the screen config in the Pause Menu and stretch the game image, which cuts out the illustrations of Athena (who worryingly looks more like a chubby child in a bikini than a Greek goddess).

If you have the patience and are willing to put the hours into this game, or if you had played Athena the first time round and actually enjoyed it, then G1M2’s latest installment may actually be worth the $2.99 for you. For the rest of us, however, I would advise steering well clear of this hugely frustrating and difficult game.

4/10

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Comments

9 Responses to “Athena Review—Frustrating and Extremely Difficult”
  1. JeremyR says:

    Yeah, very frustrating game.

  2. onmode-ky says:

    It does have that reputation, but, curiously, the user rating in the NA PS Store for this is pretty high, with a fairly large number of votes for a Mini, too. Maybe most buyers were people who already liked the game and knew what they were in for. Hey, they could even be really good at it.

    Incidentally, a much more mature-looking rendition of bikini-clad Athena graces the cover of SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 0 (from which this Mini comes). Makes for an interesting contrast with the game’s original promo art.

  3. Ofaliss says:

    I wouldn’t say she’s chubby, but she definitely looks young.

    Some things are better left in the past, these SNK minis seem to be some of those things. I’m sure a few of the old school fans will disagree, but somethings just don’t age well. I’m sure Betty White was one hot momma back in her prime, but I doubt many people are going to Yahoo now and typing in, betty white sexy!

  4. JeremyR says:

    I dunno, I think it’s pretty much a proven fact that everything from the 80s is better than anything now.

    With the exception of Betty White, who has pretty much always looked like that (see her on the Mary Tyler Moore show in the 60s, or Mama’s Family in the 80s, or the Golden Girls in the 90s)

    And this.

    While it is rated fairly high on the store, all the SNK Minis are. Vanguard is 4.68, Sasuke is 4.42, even Marvin’s Maze is 4.22. This is only 4.04

  5. manslayer911 says:

    I wonder how the arcade version of this game stacks up against the nes version. Personally, I thought the music from the latter was kinda cute. Every time I think of Athena, the theme from the first stage plays over and over in my head.

  6. min says:

    why buy minis if you can get psone classics for 1.99 like hardcore 4×4. great racing game with 7 4×4’s and 7 tracks with weather changers and even in car views with a steering wheel. great game, much better than any mini that is that price. im not saying all minis are bad. nova and carnivourous dino hunters are great but cheep minis are rubbish compaired to psones. apart from bloon td, that awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. onmode-ky says:

    Not sure why you posted your rant in this particular post, min, since this is not a racing game against which to compare your example, but there are zero PS1 Classics in the PS Store that sell for anywhere even close to $1.99. At their cheapest, those titles are $5.99; certain titles are $9.99. Most Minis are therefore cheaper than all PS1 Classics.

  8. min says:

    One the EU store Hardcore 4×4 is £1.99, soz if u dont have it in america

  9. min says:

    I didnt mean it like that so sorry if i got u angry, all i ment was that some minis are overpriced especially when you can buy psone games cheaper. Don’t get me wrong, minis is one of my all time favourites from PlayStation and is something i visit every time i go on the store but some minis are just overly priced by a long shot. N.O.V.A for example is a great mini but was a bit expensive (3.99), I waited until the sale was on during the summer and got it for 1.74. I loved it but 3.99 is just to high. All mini games so have mini prices.
    I am so sorry for offending you onmode-ky, i hope u can forgive me now that you know what i mean.

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