Golden Axe (Third Review)

Title           Golden Axe (Third Review)
Game Type	General Action
Company		Probe (1990)
Players		1 or 2
Compatibility	All (WHDLoad Patch)
HD Installable  Yes (WHDLoad Patch)
Submission	Kristian Hesketh Profiled Reviewer

Golden Axe is an old side-scrolling hack em 'up, very much in the vein of
the Renegade games and more recently The Strangers from Vulcan. (Don't let
that put you off though). You walk from left to right through the game
with a fantasy character hacking and slashing. It's bright, colourful and,
more importantly, fun.

Okay.... so there are two reviews already of this game and neither are
favourable, so why on earth do I want to review this obviously poor game
for the third time? Simple really, I want to right some wrongs.

Right, bad points first. The game is a bit buggy and on more than one
occasion I have found myself stuck in a position off the screen with
nowhere to go. It isn't fun and rapidly makes you want to hurt the
programmers. Also the game is very easy. Anyone barely competent with
computer games could probably complete the game (with a friend) in 2
player mode.

Aaaaah... now that's out of the way I can start telling you why the game
is great. This game harks back to the olden days when 16-bit games were
only at the arcades and 8-bit games were for the masses. It is a port of
the classic Sega coin-op and I used to love playing around my mates house
years ago, but never had the game myself until about a year back.

You start by choosing your personal character out of a possible three.
They are noticably different, which is good, and new tactics are needed
with a change of character. The Dwarf is the most combat orientated,
followed by the Barbarian and then the Woman (?), but the least skilled in
combat have higher skills with the magic they command so it's all balanced
out in the end.

The actual game starts off with a dying man who happens to be your friend.
He gets attacked and dies and you set off on your quest. The sprite
animation is passable and the graphics are dated so the first impression
is probably not good. The enemies appear from the right and the combat
begins. Standing next to an enemy sprite and repeatedly hitting the fire
button results in an array of excellent slashing sword/axe moves,
depending where you are in relation to the sprite. You move towards the
enemy and bash the fire button a few times. The enemy crumples to his
knees satisfyingly, but you continue to hit the button and you start
htting them over the head with the weapon. Carry on and you kick the
sprite to the floor and do it all over again until he dies.

This is all very good, but it's far too easy. The action starts when they
gang up on you and you have to use your full arsenal of moves. They attack
from both directions and so you jump a great height and "pile drive" them
when you land, by jabbing the fire button whilst in mid-jump. Great fun.
Pushing the joystick in the same direction twice starts them on a run and
pressing the fire button during this sends them flying though the air
causing damage to whoever foolishly fills the space in front of you. The
enemies can also do this though, but they only attempt it when you are
some distance from them. Walking towards them pursuades them not to do it.

On top of this is the brilliantly simplistic magic system. Collect the
blue potions off the cute blue pixies by kicking them and devastate the
land with a quick tap of the Left Amiga key. More potions means more
powerful magic, unless your character cannot hold any more.

There are cool dinosaurs to ride which give you an advantage, but you can
be knocked off. Knocking the enemies off them is a simple task of "pile
driving" them. Some of them shoot fireballs and other great stuff. The
enemies can be huge sprites and it's great fun throwing them to the ground
when they are twice the size of you.

The story unfolds as you play until you finally confront the evil
DeathAdder and defeat him. He's quite tough, as you must be able to
perfect the jump and be quite nifty with the sword/axe. The end sequence
is a laugh and reminds you of it's coin-op history.

All in all I heartily recommend this to anyone who likes a good game,
especially those who love the old 16-bit coin-ops.

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