Golden Axe (Arcade) review
"Golden Axe is a game that will remain close to me until they shut the lid on my coffin. For over a decade me and some of my close friends have beaten this game countless times together and also solitarily although I had finished the console translation of the game on Segaís own Mega Drive, or Genesis, whatever! It was years, however until I actually played the original Arcade version of the game, and I was almost blown away with not just the graphical and sound differences but also the massive ..."
Golden Axe is a game that will remain close to me until they shut the lid on my coffin. For over a decade me and some of my close friends have beaten this game countless times together and also solitarily although I had finished the console translation of the game on Segaís own Mega Drive, or Genesis, whatever! It was years, however until I actually played the original Arcade version of the game, and I was almost blown away with not just the graphical and sound differences but also the massive increase in difficulty, which left me stunned, and somewhat dizzy.
The basic premise remains identical as before where you control either one of three warriors. We have Ax Battler, the muscled barbarian that swings a brilliant double handed battle sword who can also summon the power of earth, lashing the ground with tremors and volcanic eruptions, bowling all the bad guys over. Then we have our sultry Amazon, Tyrus Flare who has a slender sword and can use fire to scorch her foes and we also have Gilius Thunderhead, our dwarfish dueller who carries a very sleek axe, which is now made of gold instead of the poor pewter look we see on the console version. Our Gilius cannot only hack the knees of countless adversaries but can summon the lighting from the sky to smite the opponent
They are on a quest! A quest for revenge against the vile dictator Death Adder and his countless soldiers, who have not only taken over the peaceful land but have also got the trio P.Oed by murdering their friend and partner Alex. The drama is extended as you start the game where an injured Alex tells you of Death Adder when a Longmoan (one of D.Aís lackeys, a goblin-like creature) appears from nowhere and bashes the poor guys head in, something we didnít seen on the Mega Drive.
You begin in a small grove with your selected character(s) and a pair of enemies armed with clubs and maces ambushes you. With your weapon in your hands you swing and connect knocking the enemy to his knees and you savagely use the blunt end of your sword/axe to smash it over their head and then finish him off with a sturdy kick to the face. As his partner charges towards you, you run at him and in a split second you elbow him in the face sending him to the ground and as he rises your sword is waiting for him. As you continue on youíll encounter a gallery of gruesome goons out to get you, including oversized knights, who can take one whole energy bar away from you with one strike, bald barbarians, clutching mallets, skeletons, armed with swords and gargantuan amount of Longmoans and Heningers (bald guys with maces).
Occasionally youíll encounter enemies riding on seemingly timid beaked creatures that donít hesitate to trip you up with a sweeping tail. Others will ride fire breathing dragons, the blue ones will emit a jet of fire from their mouths which will burn you to bits and the pink ones will spit balls of fire directly at you. Never fear though as with a quick strike you can send the enemy packing and commandeer one of these burning beasts for yourself. With a delightful dragon youíll have no trouble scorching foes to smithereens and they sure make the game a lot smoother and the majority of enemies easier to kill, not including chicken legs who trip bad guys up with their tails, they are less effective but it can be fun to really annoy your pal with them.
The magic system works the same, in odd spots in levels you will meet up with elf thieves. These little scamps, carrying sacks on their backs (heh, that rhymes!) will run around like headless chickens and with a swift boot youíll knock them back also sending a pot of magic out. When you collect a jar of magic you can instantly use it against enemies and the more you collect the stronger your magic attack will be. If you have a full bar then your attack will be devastating but of course it depends on the character of your choice. Tyrus has the most powerful magic and goes far enough to release a dragon, that comes down and burn your foes in style. Gilius has poor magic that barely lays a scratch on anyone surprisingly and Ax Battler seems to hit average but having magic is very handy at times, especially when up against bosses and it can also help get out of some sticky situations if need be so make sure you always have a few bottles, although using magic once will clear all of your bottles away.
Also youíll encounter some bosses that will seriously take you to the edge. On this version it seems that the latter bosses are amazingly difficult in comparison with the Mega Drive version. The main reason is the huge amount of health a boss can take off you, sometimes one bar with one hit. You only have three bars to begin with and you canít edit the options to get more so when you fight a boss make sure you have a stack of coins at your side. The actual bosses remain the same, giant knights wielding swords that seem to be as tall as the knights themselves, a group of shadowed Death Adder minions and of course Death Adder himself, who now has a fantastic entrance in which a pile of maggots grow from the ground and transform into the dark lord. One huge change in the arcade version is that Death Bringer, the final boss, and Death Adders master has been removed, along with all of level ten. Sega have edited it a bit though making you not only fight Death Adder with his skeleton duo but also a giant mallet guy along with a Henninger/ Longmoan combo. You thought Death Bringer was hard? Then be prepared for the Abyss as these six beasts will decimate you and that is no understatement.
Overall though, Golden Axe is a very fun game and there is no doubt that you will have fun with this either alone or with a friend, although it is more fun with a buddy. Itís getting on nowadays and youíll have little to no chance of finding in a regular arcade nowadays which is a shame. In comparison with the Genesis version it isnít as fun for a few reasons, mainly no Death Bringer and no dungeon level plus you get all the cool extras on the cartridge version that have disappeared here although hardcore fans and action gamers alike will find this game a joy to play, despite its immortal challenge.
Community review by goldenvortex (July 12, 2004)
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