Golden Axe


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


goldenaxewonderswan1.bmp (2359350 bytes)It's hard to believe that no one got the idea to port Golden Axe to a portable. It's a great game for on the go. Short, fun, fast paced, and a decent challenge make it an instantly playable classic. The Game Boy Advance was on the receiving end of a really nasty emulated version in a package deal. As it stands, the game plays the best, at least in handheld form, on the Wonderswan.

All three of the famed warriors are accounted for. Multi-player support is included. All stages, including that little extra bit found in the Genesis port, made it onto this cart. So far, so good. Oddly missing is the brief opening cinema, now replaced with a screen of Japanese text (all of the story is in Japanese; menus and other necessary items are in English). It's also odd that the ending in which the characters all come out of the arcade machine (a truly memorable ending) has been excised, but the catchy music remains in the sound test.

Nevertheless, what's important is how it plays. This is still Golden Axe, it's just been tweaked a bit in favor of the player. Throws can now be performed at any time. Normally, enemies had to be dropped to their knees first. You can also toss multiple enemies at once. Hit detection is also generous, allowing players to whack someone standing behind them. It's a bit spottier with the creatures; the dragons in particular have a tough time setting their target on fire.

The only major change is the speed of your attacks. That initial slash takes an awfully long time to go through the animation routine. That can lead to some tight spots, especially during that final battle that's just as unfair here as it was elsewhere. They also seem to walk just a wee bit slower too, but that's a bit of a nitpick.

goldenaxewonderswan2.bmp (2359350 bytes)All of the magic attacks have been retained flawlessly, never once stretching the hardware. The player-controlled sprites actually have some new animation when standing still. Usually they do nothing, here they at least breathe heavily, a nice touch. All opponents are present and accounted for, the larger ones shrunk down a bit to fit the resolution (and likely to avoid slowdown). Colors are vibrant and the backgrounds contain a fair amount of detail.

Every music track has been retained in this port. They sound great coming from this handheld, though limitations do apply. The limited available channels means part of the music cuts out whenever a sound effect is needed. It's annoying to say the least. No voice samples made the trip. That's probably for the better since they got annoying rather quickly.

Theoretically, you could just get a Sega Nomad and pop in the Genesis cart for portable Golden Axe action. That still stands as the best home or on-the-go version of the game. It's also sort of cheating since it was never meant for the road. That leaves the Wonderswan and it's an excellent choice.


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Last updated: Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:11 PM