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Greek Mythology According to Koei
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 08, 2005   |   Episode 66 (Show Archive)  


Maybe if you were as strong as the mighty Hercules you would have people willing to pick stuff out of your ears!
Being the person who writes for a game can be a tough job that doesn't bring you a lot of fame or notoriety. It's a job that most gamers don't think about and when they do it's often for the wrong reasons. But life can be downright misery when you're trying to write a script for a game that is based on real history or mythology.

Outside of the dozens of World War II titles that are released each month, most games don't attempt to portray real events or real people. Most games prefer to create their own worlds and mythology, and for good reason, it involves a lot less research and a lot more time doing the things writers like to do ... creating. But sometimes you just don't have any choice over the matter; sometimes it's your job to write a game based on historical events you know absolutely nothing about. So what are you going to do?

If you're the makers of Colosseum: Road to Freedom, Goshow, then you do absolutely no research or any kind. Colosseum doesn't stray too far from the normal Gladiator story; it involves a slave who fights others for money, slowly paying off his debt until he's a free man. But there's one aspect of Colosseum that doesn't seem quite right, an aspect that probably should have been caught long before the finished product decided to hop onto store shelves.

I'm sorry Russel Crowe, but you should not have won an Oscar for your work in Gladiator! Maybe for the Insider, but definitely not for his turn as Maximus!
In Colosseum you can choose to pay obeisance to a number of Roman gods ... including a certain gentleman named Hercules. Now I'm no scholar of Greek mythology, but I do know for a fact that Hercules was not a god; he might have been strong, but he was no god! Without getting too technical here, Hercules was the son of Zeus (the principal god of the Greek pantheon, ruler of the heavens, etc.) but not actually a god himself. Oh sure, he won immortality by performing the 12 labors demanded by the Argive king Eurystheus, but there's a big difference between living forever and being a god!

It's not hard to understand how somebody unfamiliar with Greek mythology could miss a point like that, but when you're spending that much time, money, and effort to develop a game that embraces that story, it would make a lot of sense to get a few of the basics facts right. Calling Hercules a god probably isn't the worst thing they could have done, but it certainly makes you concerned by what else they could have gotten wrong when they got such a simple fact so wrong.

You mean to tell me that Nobunaga's Ambition was not to find the best tasting pie in the world?
Of course, I do have a little compassion for Goshow and the people who actually wrote the story of Colosseum: Road to Freedom. Greek mythology is one of those very tricky things to get right, even multimillion dollar Hollywood productions like Gladiator got it wrong (it's thumbs up, guys). But we're not talking about a simple mistake here; we're talking about something that could have been rectified by simply watching the Disney cartoon Hercules!

What's even more shocking is that this is being published by Koei, a company best known for their historical strategy games like Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. If this is the kind of shoddy fact checking they do then should we believe anything in Dynasty Warriors, Liberty or Death, or even Genghis Khan? It's the kind of revolation that makes you wonder if Koei has a team of researchers or are they just hoping the audience knows even less about the subject?

But regardless of the answer, in this day and age there is no excuse for somebody not to hit the internet first to make sure they are getting the facts right. We know that making a game based on mythology is difficult, but all it would have taken is five minutes out of their time to read about it online. In the end it would have saved them from looking like fools and would have kept them out of the pages of Defunct Games!


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