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RETRO REVIEW: Golden Axe

Whilst Golden Axe is a short game, it’s one that many remember fondly as an example of just how well an arcade title can be ported to home consoles.

Note: review is based on the Mega Drive version.

Set in a very medieval world, full of magic and monsters of another realm, Golden Axe sets you on an adventure through dangerous lands to save the King and his daughter. Pretty basic stuff, but it gets the job done.

You have the option to choose from three different characters, including the warrior, dwarf, and barbarian woman – at least, that’s what I would always call them as a kid. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, for example the warrior is well-balanced in terms of his combat and magic abilities, whereas barbarian woman has really strong magic attacks, but lacks any real close-combat skills. The dwarf is my personal favourite as he is able to lunge at enemies at great distance, although his magic doesn’t do too well.

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These guys are no match for the Dwarf and his dwarfy beard.

Now, the graphics are fantastic in this game – each level is truly brought to life through well-detailed environments, immersing you into the world of Golden Axe perfectly. Houses and such are run down, the sky can turn orange (which to me always indicated there was a massive fire somewhere…), and skeletons will often rise from the ground. It’s all very fantasy-driven, as a game like this should be.

Throughout Golden Axe, you’ll face many different enemies, ranging from basic club-wielding foes to hell-bent Amazons, Knights, and Skeletons. Each enemy has a particular way of doing battle, so it’s ultimately a case of working out which way is best to defeat the pesky buggers. Helping you along the way are thieves of all people – these small little fellas run frantically around the screen as you try to hit them. Upon successfully hitting them, they will either drop health of mana potions, depending on who you decide to go for. Green thieves drop food, blue thieves drop mana – go figure.

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Look at their faces…

Speaking of mana, you will need these potions in order to use any sort of magic – the more you collect, the stronger your magic attack will be. I would advise on saving up enough mana to use barbarian woman’s final magic attack – you won’t be disappointed, it will annihilate most enemies pretty easily. And it looks very cool, too.

Occasionally, you’ll come across an enemy who happens to be riding a dragon or a Cockatrice. If you knock said enemy off, you can steal their ride and use them to your advantage. The dragon is able to either spit fire or shoot fireballs, depending on which type of dragon you manage to snag – either way, both attacks are very effective against any enemy. The Cockatrice on the other hand can deal a good amount of damage using his tail whip, but I wouldn’t rely on him (her?) too much.

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Magic attacks will often make quick work of enemies.

If possible, play Golden Axe with a friend. That way, you can take advantage of two character types, making it much easier and a lot more fun going through the game. Golden Axe can be played on many different consoles and such, but I would always recommend the XBLA, PSN, or Mega Drive versions.
Worth Playing Today: Definitely

Available On: Arcade, Mega Drive, Master System, DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad, C64, iOS, PCE-CD, XBLA, PSN, Spectrum (whew…)

Released: 1989, Arcade

Rating: 8/10




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