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Golden Axe (Genesis) artwork

Golden Axe (Genesis) review


"Golden Axe for the Sega Genesis will always be one of those memorable moments from my childhood. It was such a simple title, but that's why I liked it; when I wasn't in the mood to play one of my other favorite, yet lengthy games, like Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Dynamite Headdy, or Dune: The Battle for Arrakis, I'd pop my "modified", Japanese cartridge of GA into the Genesis. And even though it was short, I would keep coming back to it again and again to hack and slash my way through Deat..."



Golden Axe for the Sega Genesis will always be one of those memorable moments from my childhood. It was such a simple title, but that's why I liked it; when I wasn't in the mood to play one of my other favorite, yet lengthy games, like Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Dynamite Headdy, or Dune: The Battle for Arrakis, I'd pop my "modified", Japanese cartridge of GA into the Genesis. And even though it was short, I would keep coming back to it again and again to hack and slash my way through Death Adder's army with either a dwarf, a barbarian, or an amazonian.

Soldiers, men and women alike, would constantly try to knock me to the ground, beasts would either hit me with their tails or spit fire projectiles if I wander into their paths, and the always dreadful skeleton warriors would slay me with their deadly combo attacks if I was reckless on the giant eagle. Of course, I would take care of all these nuisances with a few swings of my weapon or a magic summon, but bigger foes would always await me, afterwards. At the end of the first stage, a pair of towering, bald men with giant sledgehammers would stand by and laugh away while I dispose of the grunts. They would eventually stop laughing, though, whenever I walk up to them and kick their asses. Armored soldiers, with huge swords and shields, met the same fate later on, as well. All of this was crammed into a beat 'em up that took under 30 minutes to complete, which made Golden Axe quite the amusing time-killer back when stuff like the Internet or YouTube wasn't around.

Trying to play the game now, however, just comes off more like a chore than anything else. Combat comes off way too repetitive with its slow "combo" system. Sure, you can charge into an enemy to make things easy, but it takes a long time to actually kill them, so if you want to perform some major damage, you'll have to get up close. Here is where you can perform this combo, which you do by mashing the B button on your controller. Unfortunately, the actions on screen don't match the pace of your mashing, and you're forced to watch your character go into a slow, rhythmic animation where they beat the crap out of their victim.

What hurts more is that the enemy AI is simple to figure out: if they're at a distance, they'll charge towards you, and if they're right next to you, just simply attack first before they catch you in a combo attack you can't escape. And it's not like some other beat 'em ups where the computer cheats by breaking through your attacks and knocking you down; here, once you get someone, it's done. The only thing you have to worry about is if anyone is behind you, which won't be much of a problem in this title, because you usually only encounter up to two or three slow enemies at a time. Shoot, even if you've never played it before, you can pretty much figure out the game on your first try.

While Golden Axe may be one of Sega's classics, it's a classic that hasn't really aged that well, especially in comparison to other beat 'em up titles. Its repetitive simplicity will be a turn-off to players who've just come off something more "complicated", like Final Fight. Nowadays, the only time you'd probably bother playing Golden Axe is if it happens to be in a compilation title that Sega loves releasing every six months. At least it hasn't aged as badly as Altered Beast, something every game dreads to age into.

Rating: 5/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (December 24, 2008)

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wolfqueen001 posted December 27, 2008:

You know, this really is one of those games that were fun ages ago but if played now, wouldn't really meet our former expectations. Honestly, I think I liked it because I always played with two people, and that's always way more fun, especially with all the different modes and things.

Unless those modes are a different Golden Axe... but this one sounds the same as the one I was thinking of originally. Don't remember any giant eagles, though - just the seahorse-looking things and the dragons.

Interesting review. Thanks for tackling it.
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pickhut posted December 28, 2008:

I was referring to the 4th stage, which takes place on a giant eagle. And thanks, it really was something I used to enjoy every time I played it, but it's just something I can't get into now. Also, yeah, the Genesis port had a beginner's mode and a duel mode, I just didn't think they were significant enough to mention.

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