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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Golden Axe

Golden Axe is a side-scrolling arcade fighting game released in 1989 by Sega. The game places the player in control of one of three warriors each bent on revenge against the vile dictator Death Adder. Death Adder has taken over the once peaceful land of Yuria and murdered their friend and partner, Alex. According to the Killer List of Videogames, Golden Axe is the most important arcade game of the year 1989. Several ports of the game were created, most notably for the Sega Genesis and Sega Master System. Several sequels followed.

The game focuses on three heroes: An axe wielding dwarf, Gilius Thunderhead, from the mines of Wolud whose twin brother was killed by the soldiers of Death Adder. A male barbarian, Ax Battler, wielding a two handed broadsword looking for revenge for the murder of his mother. And a long-sword wielding Tyris Flare, a female amazon, whose parents were killed by Death Adder.

Contents [hide]
1 Story
2 Gameplay
2.1 The Duel mode
3 Ports and Remakes
3.1 Golden Axe (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive)
3.2 Golden Axe (Sega Master System)
3.3 Golden Axe (PC Version)
3.4 Sega Ages 2500: Golden Axe
3.5 Golden Axe for RealArcade
3.6 Golden Axe in Sega Smash Pack
4 Sequels
4.1 Golden Axe II
4.2 Golden Axe II: The Revenge of Death Adder
4.3 Golden Axe III
5 Spin-offs
5.1 Golden Axe Warrior
5.2 Ax Battler
5.3 Golden Axe: The Duel
6 External links

The very existence of Yuria is now threatened - Death Adder has kidnapped the king and his daughter, the beautiful Princess, and he is holding them captive in his castle. Death Adder has also found the Golden Axe, the magical emblem of the land of Yuria, and plans to destroy it and kill the royal family unless all the people of Yuria bow to his will, swearing an oath of allegiance to his evil regime and accepting him as ruler.

Progress is made through the game by hacking and slashing your way through a plethora of Adder's henchmen, including the standard grunts armed with clubs and maces, right up to skeleton warriors and knights. Aiding the characters in this quest is their ability to cast devastating spells hurting all enemies on screen. The force of this magic depends on the number of blue 'magic potions' the user has collected whilst progressing through the game. The male warrior Ax, limited to 4 bars, is able to cast Earth type magic. The dwarf Gilius, limited to 3 bars, casts lightning magic and finally Tyris can cast devastating fire magic and can store up to 6 bars.

The various steeds found in the game (bizarrians) can be ridden when the enemy rider is knocked off or if you find one dormant. These mounts add further attack prowess to the player by allowing them to attack groups of enemies at a time by swiping the bizarrian's tail and, in the case of the larger dragons, can deal heavy damage by breathing fire.

The Duel mode
The Duel mode was added to most ports. The main part of this mode was single-player only, although there was a slightly altered two-player option.

In this mode, the player battles enemies in waves. A handful of enemies attack, then when they are defeated the player moves on to the next group of enemies. Sometimes even bosses appeared to challenge the player.

The player had to make do with the health they started with for the duration of this mode, there were no thieves or other sources of health, and the player could not use magic at all.

If played in two-player mode, The Duel became a one-on-one battle against the other player with no enemies or stages.

Golden Axe II featured this mode, but Golden Axe III did not. Instead is had Vs. Mode, basically the two-player feature from The Duel, but added enemy AI so a player could play alone against a computer opponent. There was also one more character added to the lineup, the bird boss from the story mode.

Ports and Remakes
Various ports of Golden Axe exist for various platforms including the PC, Amiga and Commodore 64. The ports of the most significance are listed below.

Golden Axe (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive)

Golden Axe box art, Mega DriveThe Sega Genesis version of the game retained the gameplay of the arcade game, while adding two extra levels and two extra modes of gameplay, The Duel and Beginner (an easier and shorter quest with an alternate boss at the end). Due to technical limitations the graphics took a very noticeable hit, and some complex animations had to be cut, but despite not being nearly as colorful as the arcade originals fans considered the extra levels and modes to more than make up for this loss.

Golden Axe (Sega Master System)

Golden Axe (Sega Master System)The Sega Master System version of the game retold the original story from the perspective of Ax Battler, who was called "Tarik" in this game. While the game was only one-player, it featured all the levels from the arcade game as well as all the magic powers in the arcade version.

Golden Axe (PC Version)
The version of the game for IBM PC compatibles came out in 1990. This particular port was masterfully done, with quality of graphics in 256 color VGA mode rivaling that of the arcade original. The overall number of levels was expanded to eight through the addition of two extra stages. The game supported all major graphics adapters available at the time, including VGA, EGA, CGA, Tandy and Hercules. Although the game would run on a 4.77 Mhz IBM PC XT, at least a 16Mhz IBM PC AT was recommended for fluid scrolling and animations in VGA mode.

Sega Ages 2500: Golden Axe
As part of the Sega Ages series of remakes, Sega released a 3D remake of Golden Axe for the PlayStation 2. Originally released in Japan as a budget release (it sold for only 2500 yen), the title has generally been poorly received due to its lackluster graphics, poor animation, and shoddy hit detection.The game is now available in the United States as part of the Sega Classics Collection, a multi-pack of other Sega Ages remakes.

There is some theorisation by fans that this and other Ages remakes were actually planned for the original PlayStation but were somehow delayed, and then were tidied up for release on the Playstation 2. This theory going some way to explain the unusually limited graphics.

Golden Axe for RealArcade
A re-release of the original Golden Axe was planned for Windows systems, through Sega's partnership with Real Networks' 'RealArcade' subscription-based game download service, however it never progressed beyond the beta testing stage.

Golden Axe in Sega Smash Pack
Sega made a collection of their games, called Sega Smash Pack for the PC and Sega Dreamcast which was basically emulated version of several Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games (including Golden Axe) on one disc.

THQ's Sega Smash Pack for the Game Boy Advance included a port of the Genesis/Mega Drive version of Golden Axe. The game did not feature multiplayer simultaneous play in arcade mode (though it did support multiplayer for The Duel). The small screen size made gameplay harder than in other ports and there were some notable flaws in presentation. For these and other shortcomings, some fans criticize it as being far worse than the Genesis version, despite being on a technologically superior platform.

Golden Axe II
Each of the heroes from the first game return to battle the forces of evil villain Dark Guild in this Sega Genesis/Mega Drive exclusive. Released in 1991, the game featured new magic for each of the heroes with the trademark magic pots from the first game replaced by spell books this time around. Because of the removal of the thieves and the addition of the spell books, many fans strongly dislike the game.

Golden Axe II: The Revenge of Death Adder
In 1992, Sega released an arcade exclusive sequel to Golden Axe. Entitled "The Revenge of Death Adder", the game featured a group of new heroes and four-player simultaneous play. The game featured improved graphics and sound over the original game. Note that this is completely different from the Genesis Golden Axe II.

Golden Axe III
Released in 1993, the third Golden Axe game on the Mega Drive went unreleased in the United States, despite all the ingame dialog being in English. The game was available for a while in North America on the Sega Channel, Sega's modem-based game downloading system.

In this game, a new set of heroes battle the scourge of Damud Hellbringer. This game boasts an incredible number of truly branching paths to choose during gameplay (in Revenge of Death Adder they usually looped back onto one another after a very short while) as well the largest number of playable characters in any Golden Axe game for the Genesis/Mega Drive. Despite the loss of Gilius Thunderhead the dwarf and Duel mode, some Golden Axe fans consider this to be the pick of the console releases.

Golden Axe Warrior
This Sega Master System title told another epic tale about the Golden Axe. Unlike most of the other games in the series, it was an adventure game much like The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Warrior before it. Even though it was basically a Zelda clone, its monetary system was horns and it is to be imagined that the hero cut these off of the enemies he killed (much like Conan in the film Conan the Destroyer) and their monetary value was like a sort of ivory.

Ax Battler
Released for the Sega Game Gear, this adventure title followed the legend of the character Ax Battler. Unlike its console counterpart, it was more based on the second Zelda rather than the first. The player moved around a top-view overworld and enemies randomly attacked. However the player couldn't see them like in Adventure of Link, so it was much like the Pokemon games' grass, where the Pokemon are completely invisible and suddenly choose to attack. When a battle began the game zoomed down to a platform-style fighting engine. After killing the foe (or the foe wounding them) the hero returned to the overworld.

As a Golden Axe first, the player could learn new attacks and moves at the training dojos in each town. The monetary system in this game was pots, the traditional Golden Axe magic-usage item - they doubled as both currency and as an offensive attack.

Golden Axe: The Duel
The last original Golden Axe game was released in 1994. Unlike the games before it, Golden Axe: The Duel was a one-on-one fighting game featuring characters who appear to be descendants of some of the characters in the original game. The title was released for both the arcades and the Sega Saturn console. It had a poor reception in both markets; Golden Axe fans shirked from its Street Fighter-like combos, but fans of the more popular fighters didn't think it had anywhere near enough combos.

2:08 AM


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