This has been waiting for a long time. The first Golden Axe game was a hit with gamers and critics. When it was released on the Mega Drive, it was the game to play, the ultimate beat ’em up for the console. Gamers who played it back in the day still praise the game for it’s fun gameplay. In my opinion, it hasn’t aged well with clunky and unfair gameplay, but I still appreciate it and I may play it once in a while. Of course with a successful game comes a sequel, Golden Axe II, developed and published by Sega and was released in 1991 in the US and Japan but was released in 1992 in Europe.
Ax Battler, Tyris Flare, and Gilius Thunderhead, the three heroes who defeated Death Adder in the first game return to save the land once again from Dark Guld, who has taken the Golden Axe so he can rule the world.
So the game play is in the style of a beat ’em up, but instead of using your fists, you’re using swords to decapitate the minions of Dark Guld. You can play as one of the three characters, each having their unique abilities, just like the first game. You have four main attacks like a normal attack to attack the minion with your sword multiple times until he cannot get up; you see one does not simply slice a man with a sword once. The other attack is the dash attack, tap left or right twice to run and the attack button to tackle the enemy which works with most enemies. The next attack is very deadly, jump, press down, the sword will descend on top of an enemy and is killed instantly, it works well but most of the time the enemies run away from the attack anyway; nothing more barbaric than obliterating someone’s brain. And finally, there is the back attack, this is useful to take down enemies behind you, a slight improvement from the original.
If the enemies are too much for you, you have magic, collect enough magic and you have weird and wonderful magic attacks, even ones that look like nukes, really, NUKES? In the sequel, the magic has changed; in the first game, when you collected a decent amount magic, you used all of them in one go, but you can hold the magic button and it will activate the amount of magic of your choosing. To collect magic, small wizards will run around you and can even attack you, they’ll have magic and they’re annoying you, so you smack the living crud out of them until they run away wounded.
You’ll journey across many lands, slaughtering your way through hundreds of enemies, feeling like Conan in the process, you attack an enemy on the right, but the enemies aren’t that stupid as another enemy can easily and mercilessly attack you from the left, but you can’t defend yourself because you can’t counter attack and IT’S NOT FAIR, even though the back attack should help. But not all is lost as a friend can join in and you can successfully complete the damn adventure that way, your friend can slice enemies to death with you, smacking wizards to death to collect magic and use nuketastic magic to obliterate your enemies, all in the name of saving royalty and dignity and vengeance and the hatred of wizards and possibly hunger.
The game is so similar to the first game, and that is one of the biggest problem, whilst the graphics have improved a little, the music has improved too but it’s forgettable, even the end credits music sounds like something out of Streets of Rage. The gameplay has had little changes but it’s still the first game. And you know what’s worse, many people didn’t even remember that there was even a Golden Axe II.
So why did this game not get the same legacy as the first one? I think it’s two things: 1. In the 80’s the fantasy genre was at it’s peak, the Conans and the Red Sonjas were being released, even He-Man was a great show for children, they were a hit and are still an integral part of the 80’s. Unfortunately by the late 80’s, that kind of genre was dying out, even when the first Golden Axe game was out, it just managed to be a classic by many, and after that, that genre died, so by the time the sequel came out, no one really cared. And 2. Capcom arrived and redefined the beat ’em up genre, even Streets of Rage, released the same year, was a modern far cry from the barbaric fighter, the series was old at this point and it seems it needed to change, but that’s for another day.
Overall, it’s far too identical to be a classic, too old to age well and is based on 80’s fantasy genre that was dead even back then. A game that felt more like a copy, paste then edit, so much so that I did the same thing. For anyone that even read my review of the first Golden Axe game, about 50% of the review was copied, pasted and edited from the first review, it’s not plagarism if I wrote it myself, but if Sega was going to barely change anything, why should I.
Oh, one more thing, I know Sega has failed in every way lately, but now they’ve realised their mistakes and now want to do good and make games that have quality, games that we can have fun with, so fingers crossed. So here’s what they should do: Make sure Sonic is treated to a proper anniversary, he’s going to be 25, he can now drink. Make sure to use your old franchises and makes good games that we want. Take great advantage of Atlus, and for goodness sakes release Taxman’s Sonic releases into consoles, I don’t like mobile controls for games like Sonic. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll forgive you.
You can get it on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Virtual Console.