Head Games: Golden Axe (1989)
Do you have what it takes to stop Death Adder?
Growing up in a small town I had no access to an Arcade, I had to rely on what few machines there were parked in the back of my local pizza shop or bowling alley. One in particular became the obsession of my seven year old, sugar addled mind. A game of barbarians and sorcery, a game of action, a game of manliness…..Golden Axe. And what a game it is.
Set in a world of high adventure, mythical creatures, and magic, Golden Axe follows the story of three heroes (Barbarian Ax Battler, Amazon Tyris Flare, and dwarf Gilius Thunderhead) seeking to free the land of Yuria from the villainous Death Adder …a giant of a warrior who wields the mythical Golden Axe, and also bares a striking resemblance to Frazetta’s Death Dealer. If that weren’t bad enough, our three heroes have personal motivation for seeking out Death Adder…he having murdered Tyris’ parents, Ax Battler’s mother, and his ruthless soldiers having slaughtered Thunderhead’s twin brother. I hear in his downtime he likes to kick puppies, steal candy from babies, and abuse the “take a penny, leave a penny” tray.
Golden Axe is a beat ‘em up, and a pretty damn challenging one at that. Standing between you and your quest for vengeance is Death Adder’s loyal legion of soldiers…from standard barbarians to undead skeletons, your journey will not be an easy one as you travel through barren wastelands, ancient ruins, and even across the back of a giant sea turtle. Each character has their own unique strengths and weaknesses…Tyris being weakest in terms of brute strength, makes up for it with speed and powerful magic; Thunderhead having the most powerful attack, is also the slowest and has very weak magic; and Ax Battler is well rounded, being a balance of the two. As you slash, pummel, and eviscerate your way through the unrelenting enemy horde, you’ll eventually find yourself face to face with the main man himself, Death Adder…be prepared for your most difficult battle yet.
Golden Axe is a game that had me hooked from the very first moment I dropped a quarter into it’s slot, so much so I saved up every cent I had just so I could buy the Sega Genesis port. At the time, nothing caught that Conan-style spirit of adventure better than Golden Axe did (in videogame form, that is). This is a game, along with it’s sequels, I can still dust off and play for hours…bashing skulls and and crushing my enemies never felt so fun. If your a fan of old school, arcade style beat ‘em ups you can’t go wrong here. The Genesis cartridge runs for pretty cheap used, alternatively the first three games (along with the Zelda style RPG spinoff, Golden Axe Warrior) are available on Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. What are you waiting for? Play this game….Crom commands it.