Golden Axe


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9


One of the best ways to judge your new 16-bit console was to compare arcade ports. Genesis early adopters were recipients of the one of the best. Golden Axe is a remarkable translation from the arcade, with very little snipped to make the game work in cart form. Most importantly, it's the gameplay that has been retained.

Everything from the arcade game is here. All three of the characters have made the translation, their magic, and their enemies. All stages remain and they have even added an extra one at the end since the arcade game was disappointingly short. Two players can play co-op or settle their differences inside an arena. There's a survival mode too.

Collision detection is still perfect in this classic hack 'n slash, even a bit generous at times. The AI of Death Adder's minions has definitely been decreased a bit. They'll walk off ledges if you lead them properly and charge at you repeatedly even if you're on the back of a fire-breathing dragon. The difficulty ramps up for the ridiculous final battle where Adder has unlimited (and unavoidable) magic and two undefeatable skeletons at his side. By this point, you should have enough continues to take you through.

You'll get to that final fight in fine style. The sprites in this game are some of the most under appreciated in the history of the industry. They contain fantastic detail and the shading is remarkable. Animation has taken a rather significant cut in the translation, but that in no way damages the game. Backgrounds have had their color reduced a bit too. Those are acceptable changes considering both the release date and hardware.

All of the voice samples from the arcade game have been removed, and in a rare situation, that's actually an improvement. The screams of dying foes in the arcade became far too repetitive in the arcade. Here it's quick and to the point. To compensate for those who might have actually enjoyed that 'feature,' the soundtrack has hardly been trimmed at all. You can't even consider it the lesser of the two versions; they're on equal ground in this regard.

It's hard to find fault in Golden Axe, especially if you look at its lesser sequel on the Genesis. It certainly served as an inspiration to countless predecessors and there's a reason for it. This is a complete hack 'n slash title, one that hasn't aged nor dulled a bit since its release. It deserves the classic status many people give it.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 24, 2005 12:08 AM