Golden Axe
Sega/Shin Force
Golden Axe

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Golden Axe (Series) Golden Axe :: Reviews
Shinobi
Reviewed
11.20.2005
Publisher
Sega
Developer
Sega AM7
Format
4 Megabit
Cartridge
Origin
Import
Domestic
Available
Dec. 23, 1989
(Japan)
1989
(USA)
Nov. 30, 1990
(EUR)
Exclusive
Yes
Difficulty
Adjustable
Dimensions
2D
View
Side
Genre
Hack 'n' slash
Player(s)
1-2
Options
6 Button
Mega Key
Requires
n/a
Importable
100%
Intro
     > As many Game Fans know, the arcades is where Sega made a name for itself.  Back in 1989, Golden Axe was just one of many games that Sega ported from the arcade to their fledgling 16-bit console, the Mega Drive/Genesis.  Originally developed by Makoto Uchida (now at Wow Entertainment, director of Dynamite Cop and Wing War and producer of Alien Front Online) for the System 16 arcade board, Golden Axe brought a fantasy setting and three selectable characters to home consoles, and took the lead in the hack 'n' slash craze.  The most notable addition to the genre was the use of magic.  Sega also added two more levels to the game (for a total of 8) that weren't in the arcade version.  Eventually, Sega released two Genesis and one Saturn sequel (Golden Axe: The Duel) to this classic game.

     > If you're interested in getting the Japanese import version, then by all means go ahead.  As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no difference (content-wise) between the US and Japanese releases.  Golden Axe works just fine with a Mega Key, or most likely any other conversion cart you may have. 

Graphics
     > When compared to the arcade original, this iteration of Golden Axe is pretty good, but definitely not pixel perfect.  At any rate, the game's visuals were very good compared to other home games of the same era.  The levels are straight forward hack 'n' slash, and would fit right into a Conan movie.  There aren't a ton of different enemies, but at least what's there is interesting.  Same goes for the magic -- there's 3 types (fire, earthquake and lightning) with varying levels of power that are displayed with graphic effects. 
Control
     > Golden Axe's control is arcade tight and easy to learn.  You can use magic, attack and jump.  Additional moves can be performed by combining buttons.  You can also commandeer various Bizarrians, which are Death Adder's beasts.  Some Bizarrians have deadly tails, while others spit flames or twirling fireballs.  There's a little strategy involved as well, since you can memorize where to get more magic vials, and certain levels have instant death pitfalls.  Overall, very good for the genre. 
Sound
     > Compared to the arcade, the Genesis version of Golden Axe sounds pretty good.  Not awesome, but at least the tunes are memorable, fitting and enjoyable.  The sound effects are decent, but missing is the laughter the Bad Bros. make when they taunt you.  Above average for sure. 
Fun
     > Golden Axe features three playable characters: Ax Battler, Gilius Thunderhead and Tyris Flare.  Each has unique animations, moves and magic spells/powers.  Ahead lies eight levels of non-stop hack 'n' slash bliss.  When your game is over, you'll be given a rating based on how many levels you completed and the number of lives used.  At any rate, Golden Axe is a great 1 or 2 player game which can be enjoyed over and over. 
Bottom Line
     > Certainly one of the best in this genre for the Genesis, and a classic game with good replayability.  Golden Axe brings back many fond memories of the 16-bit generation.  I have no idea why Sega doesn't make more games like this, or maybe even a compilation of all the Golden Axe arcade and console exclusive releases on one disc. 
Ratings
Overall: 8.5 | Graphics: 9.0 | Control: 9.0 | Sound: 8.0 | Fun: 8.0
~ Shinobi ~

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