Golden Axe

Released in 1989 for the Sega Genesis, Golden Axe is a fan-favorite sidescrolling beat ’em up. Developed and published by Sega, Golden Axe gives you or a co-op team the chance at taking down the evil Death Adder after he has kidnapped the King and Princess. It’s up to you to fight your way through his army of minions to rescue your King and return the land to normal.

Story:
Golden Axe takes place in the fictional land of Yuria. From the manual:

“Yuria is a strange land, with evil oppressors. Death Adder’s soldiers have invaded every village. And Death Adder himself has massacred thousands.

Finally, he’s kidnapped the King and his daughter, the Princess, and seized the Golden Axe. Only the strongest and craftiest warriors now have any chance of defeating him.

Three warriors appear to challenge Death Adder. Ax-Battler, the terrible Barbarian, arrives from the far plains. His mighty strength and courage are a match for any enemy.

Tyris-Flare, the Amazon, appears from the deep jungles to overcome the oppressors. With sword-skill and Lightning Magic, she vows to save the Kingdom.

Gilius-Thunderhead, the Dwarf, swings a deadly axe. His tricks and speed in battle can outwit even the most brutal giant.

These three, like many others, have lost cherished loved ones in the war against the reptile fiend, Death Adder. Now they swear to defeat him – even at the cost of their lives.

The challenge is overwhelming: defeat all of Death Adder’s soldiers and beasts, travel the treacherous route to his castle, demolish Death Adder Jr., and then face their most powerful enemy, Death Adder himself.

The reward: saving the lives of the King and Princess and returning peace to the Kingdom.

That’s the plan. But there could be a surprise ending!”

Heavy Sigh a “surprise ending” what fun that sounds.

Gameplay:
You and your friend, or if you’re like me and have no friends will be able to select from three different characters with various weapons and magic spells. I stuck with the typical over-muscled Fabio hair warrior that you see on 90 percent of romance novels for old ladies. He had a sword and I know the dwarf has an axe, but I’m not sure what the Amazon Woman has for a weapon. Each character has a special magic that you can cast at any point during the game but in order to cast the spell, you’ll have to have the mana potions which can be collected by kicking midgets into dropping them. I’m not joking, there are literally midgets running around on the screen with a sack that you must kick to restore your mana. The power of the magic attack depends on how many mana potions you have.

You’ll be able to swing your weapon, jump, use the magic spell, and run as you make your way from left to right on the screen. Golden Axe is mainly a button-masher where you continue to attack. The developers did a good job with the continued attack as your character will do different things like bashing enemies over the head with a shield, kicking them, and throwing them. It’s a nice fluid attack but even with the variations, it gets a bit old.

I didn’t find the difficulty of Golden Axe too challenging. My first playthrough I made it to stage three without knowing what I was doing. Some enemies are tougher than others, you’ll know right away who they are as they tower over everyone else. This is when it’s best to use your magic attack. Death Adder like the manual suggests, is not the final boss. He was somewhat tough, but after defeating him you are told by the King to enter the castle and take out Death Adder’s boss who is behind the whole mastermind. His name is Death Bringer and he’s a real pain in your butt. He was difficult to defeat because not only does two skeleton warriors that to my knowledge are invincible, he has an unlimited magic attack that he uses every five seconds. Most times I was hit by his floor magic and then destroyed by this giant dragon head that would pop in from the right side of the screen and blow fire. It was annoying because it was overpowered but each time I was hit my body was fall to the floor and then again after the second attack making the game slow down. Death Bringer was a tough S.O.B. but the jump attack seemed to work against him. I used that tactic on most bosses.

One of the elements of the game that made Golden Axe famous was the ability to ride creatures on screen and attack your enemy. You can whip the creature’s tail around to knock down enemies or if you have a dragon you can make it blow fire. This was fun and useful but as soon as you get on a creature everyone runs to try and knock you off it. After you get knocked down a few times the creature will run off-screen.

For an early release on the Genesis, the graphics aren’t too bad but the colors are a bit dull. I did enjoy the small cutscene of the map being plotted as you make your way to the next level with a small journal entry. There’s a fantasy element to the game, as you cross the sea on the back of a turtle that is home to a small village as well as fly to the castle on the back of an eagle. It may sound silly but it was kind of cool to see it and brought some more unique elements to the game.

Memories:
I knew of the Golden Axe series but I hadn’t played any of them until now.

Overall:
Golden Axe would probably score much better with someone who loved it from their childhood but I’m playing it for the first time now. It’s an average beat ’em up with some fun components to it with the ridable creatures and midget-kicking mini-game. If you want to experience an early Genesis classic Golden Axe is a solid experience but if you want addicting gameplay look elsewhere.

Golden Axe scores a 6.9 out of 10.

Do you remember when Golden Axe first came out? Who did you choose to play as? Did you play the game alone or with a friend? Were you able to beat Death Bringer? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!

If you’d like to own a copy of Golden Axe, you can purchase a used copy of it for the Sega Genesis from eBay for around $40.

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