Out of the entire pantheon of Disney Villains, Hades tends to get the short shrift. His menacing appearance belies his positioning in the movie as the comic relief. He's a bumbling buffoon yet happens to be the all-powerful god of the underworld. In this reviewer's opinion, he is one of the most memorable bad guys in the studio's entire back catalogue. I'm not the only one to think so either as in 1998, Disney Interactive gave him his very own game.
Well, he's not quite the game's protagonist but at least his name is front and centre. Hades' Challenge shares some similarities with the Animated Storybook series of children's games that came before it but it does skew a little older. It still offers some nice movie-quality visuals with an educational slant but the one big difference is that this game is first and foremost an adventure game.
While Hercules is off battling some giant or other beast, our resident satyr Phil has an opening for a hero-in-training. And what better person to fill that spot than you? In order to get your name in stars, you first have to complete a series of challenges. Namely, help other heroes do what the legends say they did. And learn some stuff along the way.
First up you have to help Daedalus build the labyrinth on Crete. There's some tradition point-n-clickery going on before you get to the first major puzzle which tends to be the game's main focus. As you'll find in each chapter, these puzzles are more in line with what can be seen in those Animated Storybooks, except here they're a bit more involved. For example, this first puzzle sees you trapping the Minotaur in the maze by twisting tiles so that each wall is of a certain strength. While still incredibly easy, it's by no means the kind of cakewalk found that earlier title.
The thinking that this game is aimed more towards a slightly older audience continues with the second section. You are tasked with delivering a message from Odysseus to Helen of Troy while in the middle of the war. There's no real mini-game like the labyrinth, but there's still a need to think outside the box. I won't give it away as discovering what happens is pretty fun. Anyone with any experience with adventure games will have no problems with it anyway. Even so, I found this to be the most entertaining section. The setting is nicely realised with a lot of people to interact with. There's even a brief musical number which makes it an automatic win in my eyes.
The third chapter sees you joining forces with Perseus in order to defeat Medusa. The wannabe hero has only got himself caught in a giant stone snake that only the collection of certain magical items can help. Inside the temple, an action based minigame tasks you with defeating Medusa herself by decapitation. Viewed from above, the fight is controlled entirely with the mouse which is where most of the difficulty comes from. Snakes will also swarm around you but are easily defeated with a swing of the sword. Just make sure you stay out of the snake lady's eye-line.
There's one last trial before the game ends which involves a shooting gallery of sorts. Here you'll encounter three bosses and each requires you to think creatively to win. For those young enough to find the game a challenge, there is an assist option where Phil will pop up and give you some obvious clues but for anyone else, it's best to deselect this. He chimes in way too often and only really contributes to slow down the pacing.
In between each chapter, Hades will give you a little quiz. They are all questions based on Greek mythology if you have a passing knowledge, you'll fly through most of them. I did get stumped a couple of times though so don't get too cocky. If you can't tell the difference between Mount Olympus and Mountain Dew, all the answers are in the game anyway. There are statues of various gods on each screen who'll pony up some interesting tidbits every time they're clicked on. We've gotta be learning something after all.
Stacked up against any other adventure, Hades Challenge is too simplistic to complete. Compare it with similar titles for the target age range, however, and we have a winner. The presentation and classic Disney humour overcome the juvenile difficulty setting and while there's no sense of accomplishment upon completion, it'll definitely leave you with a smile on your face.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses ScummVM to allow the game to run on modern PCs. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.
03.05.2023 Ver.2 - Uses ScummVM 2.7.0 instead of DOSBox DAUM running Windows '95.
File Size: 501 Mb. Install Size: 684 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Disney's Hades Challenge is © Disney Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me