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Golden Axe II (Genesis) artwork

Golden Axe II (Genesis) review


"You're also bound to encounter up to a staggering... let me compose myself for a second... four enemies at once! That's, like, leagues more than the usual three from the predecessor!!"



In Golden Axe II, players again resume the role of either an amazonian, barbarian, or a dwarf, in a mythical world menaced by a new threat: the tyrannical Dark Guld, recently escaped from prison, as he plans to spread misery with his impending rule. Doesn't hurt that he's also in possession of the Golden Axe. Now with any typical sequel, there's expected to be similarities to its predecessor, obviously, and this particular sequel is no exception. For most of the game, we're pitted against foes of equal height, be it human brutes, skeletons, and lizard men, with the occasional cameo by a towering bull mutant or headless knight to disrupt the flow. And as with its predecessor, we must carefully weave around the beat'em up playing field of goons, waiting for the right time to strike, because bars of health will be knocked off with every misstep. When things get out of hand, though, there's always our magical summons we can use from the gathered books (replacing the potions from the first), which not only damage all enemies on screen, but displays numerous animations of calamity, like twisters or dragon fire.

Sounds too similar to the original Golden Axe, doesn't it? It is. If you take away the new locations, music, and slightly updated graphics (Tyris Flare apparently got a boob job), Golden Axe II comes off more like an "enhanced" remake, featuring some tinkering to the play mechanics. The most noticeable tweak is when you perform combo attacks, which are easier to start and kinda faster to perform. It's a nice change from the slow, rhythmic feeling from before, which dragged down the pacing of the last title quite a bit. I actually feel like I'm murdering these bastards instead of busting some dance moves in a bizarre rhythm game.

The other immediately recognizable tweak is the slight increase in the default difficulty. It's not anything fancy like enemies with amazing new attack patterns (the game's not that creative), but instead multiple skeletons are introduced early on. Yeah, the same ruthless skeletons that assault with absurd speed from Golden Axe 1. Except now they're wielding pick axes? Hmm? You're also bound to encounter up to a staggering... let me compose myself for a second... four enemies at once! That's, like, leagues more than the usual three from the predecessor!! Unfortunately, another factor that contributes to the higher difficulty is the wonky hit detection when trying to hit bigger baddies. With that, you'll get caught in a shield attack or picked up and tossed across the room a few times in every playthrough. You won't notice this until late in the game, when giants come out almost every minute. Still, the tougher fights are welcomed, since the original game was surprisingly easy until you say hi to Death Adder.

But there's just not enough to consider this a drastic improvement over the first title. Golden Axe II is the superior of the two, no doubt, but that's not saying much in the end. I'm trying to think of comparisons to other games and their sequels, but it's hard, because that's how similar these two games are. It's surprising, too, if you put Golden Axe II side-by-side with the other, better executed sequels Sega did for the Sega Genesis: Shinobi III, Sonic 2, Phantasy Star II, Streets of Rage 2, and so forth; Golden Axe II just looks like a lazy or rushed product to those listed. Nowadays, gamers can play this on a cheap compilation with 20+ other titles and wonder what's wrong. Keep in mind players who were anticipating a follow-up to the 1989 game finally received it two years later, and it ended up being a quasi-remake at full price.

Rating: 6/10

pickhut's avatar
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JoeTheDestroyer posted December 19, 2011:

I was never a fan of the console Golden Axe games. II did feel like an improvement, but not enough that I cared about it. I guess I'll always be a child of the arcade when it comes to Golden Axe.

EDIT:
I also hated that noise enemies made when they died. Bleh...
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pickhut posted December 19, 2011:

I knew there was something I forgot to mention in the review! The hell was going on with the "bleh!" cries? How do you go from the screams of pain and agony from the first game to.... bleh?

As for the console games, I will say I did enjoy Golden Axe III the most out of the three Genesis titles. It felt like they at least tried to do something different, even if it wasn't by much.

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