My first foray into the world of side scrolling beat’em ups, Sega’s Golden Axe was the game that made me fall in love with the genre. The simplicity of going to the right and punching dudes just never got old with me. Even to this day, I find myself enjoying the genre, some 20 years later.
But the arcade game Golden Axe had to make several sacrifices to be crammed onto the Sega Genesis home console, which is where I and likely many of you first played this gem. Though the Genesis wasn’t as powerful as the arcade counterpart, Golden Axe still offered a great game to anyone who played.
Looking at the game now its age is showing. The arcade game plays slow compared to even games that came out just a few years after this one. The combat and magic system are still fun, but seem kind of primitive to later entries in the genre that I’ve come to call normal. Taken at face value the game comes off as average nowadays, but when this was first released I simply couldn’t get enough!
What does stand the test of time, though, is the art style and presentation. The medieval setting and characters fashion a world worth exploring. The silly names (Ax Battler and Death Adder, to name a few) are the icing on the cheesy cake, and I love it. The death screams of defeated foes sounded terrible then and they still do now, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I find it interesting the Golden Axe series continued on the home consoles in the form of two direct sequels on the Genesis, but neither of these saw an arcade version. The arcade did get two more Golden Axes, one of which was an arcade exclusive! We’ll get to those later.
*Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL 2019