Reviewed by Inkhands
Golden Axe is a game I have owned for about three years now,
but I hadn't actually played it until recently. Possibly
because this game never looked very appealing to me. If I
had played this game at the time of it's initial release, I
doubt I would have been more impressed with it than I am
now. I feel either way I would have been inclined to think
that this is a rather average game. Of course, I can't
really be positive on what I would have thought of this game
if I had played it years ago.
The story is that the brutal Death Adder has kidnapped the
King and the Princess and sent his soldiers throughout all
the villages. You choose to play as one of three players in
order to reach Death Adder, defeat him, save King, Princess,
Kingdom, avenge the death of their friend, Alex, and so on.
My personal favorite of the three characters is the dwarf.
His choice of weapon in an axe. He's a very powerful
fighter, but weak with magic. The woman is excellent with
magic, but weak with her sword. The man is an average
fighter and has average magic skills. The dwarf's magic is
lightning, the woman's is fire, and the man uses an
earthquake type of magic. Throughout the game you will
encounter blue elves. They are carrying a sack on their
back. Hit them and magic pots will fly out. Once you pick
those up, your magic increases. The green elves are carrying
food and you can use the food to increase your health on
your life meter.
There are three modes of play in this game. The Beginner
mode simply allows you to play through the first three
stages of the game to give you some practice before you get
into the other journey. The second mode is a Duel mode. You
face off in twelve rounds against Adder's soldiers.
Basically, you have a full life meter at the beginning of
each round, and you continue through this mode until it is
empty at the end of a duel. The main mode of play is Arcade
mode. This consists of eight stages and it is the mode in
which you journey to save everybody I already stated above.
During the mode the players occasionally speak. You also see
your path on a map between levels. There is some text
accompanying the map, just to let you know where you are
going and where you have been. It doesn't really add
anything to the game, so you could always skip through it.
Most of the enemies are barbarians or armored skeletons. The
barbarians look alike with the exception of the color of
their armor. Most of these stages are very short and they
all end with some sort of boss battle. The armored skeletons
are generally the most difficult to defeat, as they take a
lot of hits. Sometimes they pop out of the ground. Two or
three on the screen running and jumping at you can be a
slight challenge. These enemies lack any sort of real
variety, but they will pass.
To me, the most interesting feature of the game is some of
the enemies are riding on things called Bizarrians. If you
hit the enemy, you will knock him or her off, and you can
then get on and ride them yourself. There is an animal that
swings it's tail as an attack. The two dragons spit
fireballs or a stream of fire, depending on their color.
This was the highlight of the game to me. However, the
terrible thing is, if you ride on one of these, there's a
good chance that one of the enemies on the screen will knock
you off of it. This makes it quite useless, plus the animal
runs away after being hit a few times anyway. If only one
enemy is on the screen at one time, this is a fairly handy
way to attack.
The default control setup is not one that I care for, so
it's a good thing the control is configurable. The default
is A for magic, B for attack, and C for jump. You can change
them around to be in any order you choose, however. In any
case that does make for very simple control. You can also
hit either left or right twice to make the fighter do a
running attack. Hit the jump button and then attack button
for an even easier way to take out a few enemies. You can
also pick up enemies and throw them at other enemies on the screen.
The challenge is quite low in this game. The first time I
played it I got very far into the game, Level 7. That's a
sign to me of low challenge, as I'm not exactly an expert
player in any genre. Though I tend to be pretty good at
fighting games, probably because of their simplicity.
Probably the most challenging part of the game is some of
the jumps. For the most part the end bosses never pose too
much of a problem. Even Death Adder himself is quite easy.
You get a few continues and three lives per continue. Also,
on the options screen you can set your health meter to hold
either three, four, or five bars. This really cuts down the
challenge. There is no difficulty setting, but the challenge
is fairly low in this game.
Visually the game is pretty good for it's age. The enemy
designs are not that spectacular, mostly due to the fact
they all look the same other than the color of their armor.
The characters you can play as are pretty big and fairly
detailed, but they really aren't magnificent either.
However, some of the settings of the game look pretty good.
You travel through the woods, a village, an eagle island,
the palace, and a dungeon to name a few. The nicest thing is
when you travel by eagle, and you step off the eagle's head
to a bridge. The woods background is just some leaveless
trees. The village has stony paths and buildings.
The sound effects just consist of hitting each other, the
magic attacks, and the moans of all the fighters when they
die. This really doesn't sound very good, but it is an
effect repeated quite frequently in the game. The music
isn't anything memorable either, but this is a fairly old
game, so I won't complain too much about the music. Possibly
the best part of the game musically to me, was the music
that plays on the map screen between levels. It's a dreamy
type of sound. For the most part, the music doesn't stand
out as being either great or terrible. So, for that reason
it's quite average. Each level has it's own theme and most
of them try to fit in with the medievel setting. I suppose
the game does accomplish that anyway.
As for replay value. That really depends. You could play
through the entire game as all three characters. I really
don't imagine you'll spend much time in the duel mode,
though it is a somewhat nice feature added to the game. The
beginner's mode is there for only one play through, to help
you improve your game. The only reason to play either mode
again, might be to get a better ranking. When the game is
over, you get a ranking based on how well you did. You might
want to play it until you get the best ranking possible. For
me though, the replay value on this game is fairly low.
Overall, most people consider this to be a classic game.
Perhaps I should too, but it really didn't feel like
anything special to me. It's a very short game that can
easily be beaten in only a few tries, or even less. There's
nothing outstanding about the game play. It's a standard
fighting game with a medievel setting. Fight your way to the
end, beat it, and that's all there is to it. It deserves
some credit if it was a forerunner of this type of game, but
either way it's still just an average experience.
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Control - 7/10
Challenge - 5/10
Appeal - 6/10
Game Play - 6/10
Replay Value - 4/10
Overall - 6/10