Golden Axe is a fantasy beat-em-up by Sega, originally released for the arcade in 1989, but then ported to many other platforms. This was the first title in the series which has spawned several more games.
I was in awe of the game when I first saw it, but as I quickly learned how unfair the game is, I became disenchanted.
I have beaten the game on the Genesis arcade mode at hard difficulty with a strength of 62.9.
- For the time, the backgrounds are very detailed and attractive, the sprites are well-drawn and animated, the music is memorable, and the sound effects are great.
- The added graphics for beating up enemies (cracking them over the head, kicking them, tossing them, etc.) is a nice addition.
- The magic animations are amazing!
- Letting the player knock enemies off their dragons and steal them was a great addition.
- I find joy in kicking the gnomes to steal their magic and food.
- The game's ending is hilariously cheesy.
- Player control isn't too great. Players are left with only a few means of attack (weapon, charge, jump-attack, and roll) and evasion (walk, run, jump), some of which are difficult to pull off.
- Becoming good at the game requires you to play it non-thematically. Using the simple weapon-swinging attack will get you surrounded and killed pretty quickly, so you have to rely heavily on the roll, charge, and jump attacks. it look silly more of a "press the right buttons at the right time" type of game than a heroic adventure.
- The Genesis version takes a hit on the graphics and sound, but it thankfully allows you to add more health. The ending is a bit worse too, lacking the funny run through the arcade.
- Enemies unfairly have an attack advantage over the player when they first stand up, or when the player is knocked down. This was no doubt added to make the game harder to require more quarters to win, but it results in a great deal of frustration for the player who wants to win fairly.