Developer: Sega/Virgin Games
Genre: Side scrolling beat ‘em up
Platform: Amiga 500
Golden Axe takes me back to the first days of my Amiga and has always been one of my favourites. Why else would I own it the Mega Drive as well? The story is simple and revolves around three warriors who are seeking revenge against a murdering tyrant called Death=Adder, who has subsequently done each of our heroes a wrong in some form. You can play in 1 or 2 player mode and you must select from 1 of the 3 choices of character, each with their own agenda in seeking to take on Death=Adder.
Ax=Battler: ‘Conan the Barbarian’ warrior type complete with stylish blue underwear and a look of “if you laugh I’ll lop your arms and head off”. Ax uses his sword and brute strength to defeat his enemies but is lacking in the magic department.
Gilius=Thunderhead: Small, powerful and angry, the dwarf character is a popular choice and has a funky rolling axe to the crotch move. Nippy and reliable, not as strong as Ax but has better magic skills.
Tyris=Flare: ‘Red Sonja’ warrior type, with princess Leia type bikini, enemies stand and drool as you swipe at them with your sword repeatedly. Tyris main strength lies in her awesome magical ability, there’s nothing like having a huge dragon to do your bidding.
The game play is brilliant, and although stages are short you cannot fault its pace and fighting system. In either 1 or 2 player mode you must battle through six stages, meeting different enemies throughout including skeletons, club wielding thugs, giants, knights and the odd dragon riding, axe wielding dominatrix. I’ve never liked the skeletons as they always seemed to be more nasty when attacking, especially that sword swipe across the stomach.
At the end of each stage you have the chance to replenish your health and magic by generally being rude and abusive to some passing hobbit like creatures either dressed in green (food) or blue (magic potion). A swift kick to the sack (ouch…) forces them to give up the goods. Magic is your greatest ally when taking out multiple enemies, each character, depending on how full their magic meter is, will have different creatures or natural elements to help them dispatch a number of foes on the screen, very useful if you’re low on energy and are being over whelmed. I always found by the time I’d got to Death=Adder I’d forgotten to save them up.
The graphics are superb and I love the way the characters are drawn, each having their own unique special moves, strengths and weaknesses and magical abilities. The level designs are colourful and detailed and you’ll find yourself being surrounded by enemies from all sides. It’s always fun making them run off the side when the opportunity arises, all it needs is an animated look of confusion on their faces as they fall to their doom. Kicking and throwing them off the edge works just as well. Its only real drawback (certainly in this version) is the occasional pause to load, which can slow the game down a bit, otherwise it’s a stand up conversion and a game that looks just as good now as it did back in the day. The game music and story scene music is good, and the sound effects are brilliant, right down to the knocking sound of hilt to head and then a swift boot to the face.
Golden Axe on the Amiga is a great game and great conversion from the original coin op. Death=Adder is a great boss fight and always satisfying when he finally goes down, making sure of course he falls in the middle of the screen so you can experience the ‘spinning axe of death’ to its fullest. I feel the length of this version is just right, otherwise the game play would become to repetitive, which is the feeling I get after playing the Mega Drive version with the extra levels. Golden Axe is classic game and brilliant conversion and one that I keep coming back to and replaying. Its charm and appeal is timeless and if you can find someone to join in, 2 players is the way to go.
Bit o’ gameplay below if you’ve not seen the game before!