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In the wake of Super Mario Bros, side-scrolling platformers with bright colorful graphics proliferated, and such mascots as Wonder Boy and Kid Niki were born to the arcades. So SNK made their contribution to this genre with Athena, a goddess of wisdom sporting purple hair and a red bikini, who grows bored with living in her castle and takes a plunge into a fantasy world where everything is trying to kill her. The many possible different weapons and armors lying hidden in the worlds are key to victory.
While Athena's future descendant Athena Asamiya appeared in Psycho Soldier and The King of Fighters, the original Athena would not appear in another game until the 2000's, when she appeared as a Bonus Boss in SNK vs. Capcom SVC Chaos and starred in two Japanese cell phone games.
- All the Worlds Are a Stage: The final world is made up mostly of bits and pieces of the previous levels strung together, including the bosses.
- Green Hill Zone: World of Forest, the first level.
- Poison Mushroom: Poison potions and broken hourglasses.
- Timed Mission: Each stage has a time limit, which can be extended by picking up hourglasses.
- Under the Sea: The World of Sea, where Athena needs a necklace to transform herself into a mermaid.
- When Trees Attack: The boss of the first world.