A golden era of gaming
I know I’ve covered a lot of Sega games, but I’m a big fan. I partially owned a NES, a Master System and a Genesis, and while I did not have a lot of games for those systems, I enjoyed the games that I had for them, especially the Genesis. One of those games has an arcade background shared with Gauntlet with elements of the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop games. If you older readers know what I’m talking about, respect. For you younger readers, listen and learn of the tale of Golden Axe.
Inspired also by the Conan the Barbarian movie series of the 1980s, Golden Axe gives you a choice of three warriors: Ax Battler, who wields a broadsword; Gilius Thunderhead, a dwarf warrior with a battle ax; and, an Amazonian warrior, Tyris Flare, whose weapon of choice is a longsword. These warriors were brought together by twist of fate thanks to an evil entity known as Death Adder, who has captured the kingdom of Yuria along with its king and his daughter. The three heroes have also lost loved ones at Death Adder’s hands and set off on their quest to destroy Death Adder and restore hope and peace to Yuria.
Gameplay is simple with each character have the basic attack, jump and special attacks you find in regular side-scroller games. The one major advantage that Ax, Gilius, and Tyris have is their unique ability to cast magic spells that does serious damage to all enemies on screen. However, this special attack comes with two caveats: magic energy has a high cost and protecting your necessary magic potions from thieving elves is a chore. Now, this is the part where you ask, “what’s the payoff with the character’s magic attacks?” Good question! Tyris wields fire magic, Ax’s specialty is earth spells and my favorite character, Gilius, literally brings the thunder with lighting spells. It’s easy to understand the mechanics and use everything in the heat of battle.
If there was one negative thing that I found about Golden Axe, it’s that it’s too short on gameplay. The first stage is set on a giant sea turtle that moves across the sea in the second stage. You move to a sleeping giant eagle in the third stage and are transported to the fourth and final stage by said eagle. That’s entirely too short of an adventure. Easily there could have been a few more stages to flesh out the story.
The music has a strong combination of heroic and fairytale beats that are not too shabby but is a perfect fit for the game. The replay value is pretty good for a 16-bit game that has a short level of gameplay. Overall, this is a valiant effort by Sega to be creative with a game that has potential sadly but lacks creativity.
While it can be fun to play, the game needed some polish and a little bit more finesse to really shine. You’ll pull some hair at the length and some elements, but overall, it’s a decent hack ‘n slash. Just exercise calm and steadiness in this promising yet cruel venture.