Review: Golden Axe (Sega Genesis)

In this review, we go after Death Adder in the Sega Genesis game Golden Axe. We find out if this beat ’em up game is worth a play.

This game was released in 1989. It is a port from the arcade game.

The plot is that you are a warrior going after Death Adder. The reasons are apparently various, but the journey to get to Death Adder is documented as the player advances through the game.

There are two modes to play. There is the beginner mode which will only allow you to pay a portion of the game. The advantage is that enemies are easier to defeat and you can cast multiple spells with the potions you carry. In arcade mode, the enemies have more health and you can only cast one spell at a time per round of magic you can carry.

Players are given a choice between a blue warrior, a green axe wielding man, and a female warrior. Each character has their own capabilities.

From there, you take on the long and winding path filled with enemies. The enemies you encounter vary widely. Each one has different attacks they can unleash on you. They also often come in batches of two or three. In rare cases, they can come in a batch of four or a lone straggler will go after you.

At the end of each level is a level boss. Sometimes, it’s a group of skilled enemies. Other times, it’s a particularly large foe. Sometimes, it’s multiple large foes. Other times, you take on a mix of all of the above. Beat the boss and you’ll beat the level.

At the end of each level, you’ll get a small minigame that can earn you some valuable items. The minigame occurs at night while your hero is asleep. If you have an magic potions, two will be out. Thieves will enter your camp. If you have two potion bottles, the thieves will steal them. From there, they will run around camp looking for other things to steal (nothing else can be stolen). You must kick them as many times as possible. For every successful kick, you’ll earn an item. Blue thieves will drop potion bottles. They carry multiple bottles, so kick them as many times as possible to replenish your supply. Uniquely, green thieves will enter camp here. These enemies will drop a piece of meat that will restore health. They only have one, but it can be extremely helpful for the next level.

Blue thieves can also be found in the levels themselves. They will randomly wander onto the screen. Kick them and you’ll get some extra blue potions. In fact, these thieves are the only way you can obtain the potions.

In total, there are 8 levels in this game. You can only go up to level 3 in beginner mode.

An additional mode is available called Duel Mode. In this mode, you get a large amount of health. It must sustain you for the entire attempt. You go up against an enemy three at a time. Defeat the enemy and move on to the next round. If you die at any point in time, your run will end. There are 12 rounds in this mode.

One positive in this game is the difficulty curve. Unlike many other games I’ve played of this genre, this is actually a very reasonable curve. Though it’s difficult to beat this game, it’s more than possible to make it a good distance in with moderate skill.

The practical length of this game is, unfortunately, a little on the short side. It’s possible to get your fill of this game in an hour or two before moving on to something else. The length really is the biggest weakness for this game.

The magic potions you can collect are a nice touch to say the least.

What really elevates the gameplay are the mounts you can get in the game itself. Though it is difficult to actually take on someone on a mount at times, you can actually steal the mount and turn the tables on your enemies. This adds a very nice dynamic to the game.

Another downside, however, is that gameplay can, at times, be a little repetitive. I found myself constantly using the jump and sword swing method to get at opponents. While effective, there doesn’t seem to be many viable forms of attack besides this. This is because your sword attack is shorter than all of your opponents. Unless you get knocked over and land next to an enemy, swinging your sword alone simply doesn’t cut it.

Still, this game does have some good variety. There are the fleeing villagers and occasional elevation changes that mixes things up a little. So, that’s a good thing to see.

Generally speaking, this game has a good difficulty curve and nice variety. The mounts nicely spices up the action. The pitfalls include spurts of repetitive play and the practical length is pretty short. Still, in spite of that, the game is a pretty good play.

The graphics are very nicely done here. The characters are nicely drawn and the animations are pretty good as well. The locations are nicely detailed and generally well realized. A great job here.

The audio is pretty good. The music is pretty decent, though the instruments used are fairly mediocre. The voice samples are very well done, though the other sound effects are only half decent. Still, it’s a pretty good effort.

Overall, this is a pretty good game. There’s some good variety to be had – especially with the mounts. Play can get repetitive at times, but at least the difficulty curve is pretty reasonable here. The practical length of this game is pretty short, unfortunately. The graphics are well done and the audio is pretty decent. An overall good game to play.

Furthest point in game:
Beginner: Won: 80.5. Grade: C
Arcade: Died fighting the pink knights on level 5. 88.2. Grade D
Duel: Died in round 5. 40. Grade C

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 72%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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