Golden Axe


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9

So many beat-em-ups force players to use their hands. Sure, an occasional weapon may be dropped by an enemy none too prepared for the blast to their face, but the majority of the time, it's you and your feet. Leave it to Sega to create a spin-off genre, the hack n' slash beat-em-up with the undeniably classic "Golden Axe."

Though not recognized as true icons, everyone knows (or should know) the combination of Tyris Flare, Gilius Thunderhead, and Ax Battler. Out to save the king and queen, they plod along not only on the ground, but also in the air on the back of a giant bird and across water on a turtle. It's not a straight shot of course. Enemies are numerous and have their own little repertoire of moves to take players down with.

It's sort of hard to describe just what it is that makes "Golden Axe" such a pleasure. Surely wielding a giant axe while controlling a little midget dwarf has to have something to do with it. Maybe it's the world that dwarf inhabits, brought to life from countless books and various mythologies. It all transfers perfectly to the screen as opponents drop to the ground one by one. Dead-on hit detection can only help the situation.

Everything is aided by a great graphics engine, one completely absent of slowdown, flicker, or any other nastiness. There's some great shading on each sprite and the magic effects are pretty much unforgettable (nothing beats a giant dragon head dropping down to fry everybody). Though combos are pretty much cut and dry, some of the nice little animation touches really make up for it. The first time you start butting someone in the head your sword, you just have to smile.

Great all the way through, the soundtrack to "Golden Axe" really picks up late. The final battle is accompanied by an incredible track, followed by what should be considered one of the greatest ending themes of all time. It sticks with you for some time. In the sound effects department, there's a rather disgusting sound of blade ripping through flesh. Shame they countered that with some annoying death screams that can really become grating as the game moves on.

This is certainly a game worthy of a legacy. An arcade only sequel would only be so-so; the Genesis sequel would suffer the same fate. The third console only game would be highly underrated, as would the arcade and Saturn one-on-one fighter. Finally, this very game would be resurrected for a PS2 update, soon to get a release in the US. Here's hoping for more.


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Last updated: Friday, February 25, 2005 06:46 AM