Golden Axe – Arcade
Score: 8/10 | Beat’em Up | Arcade | 2D
I had hit the jackpot for one of my birthdays and received a collective $15 from my family. So my brother Jon and I headed straight down to the deli. Time and time again, we had tried to complete Golden Axe but we always ran out of money. This time we came prepared and bought a couple of bags of red frogs and raspberries, which were 2 cents each and cleaned out the deli’s cash registers of 20 cent pieces. We placed 3 rows of 20 cent pieces along the gap between the screen and the wooden frame around the arcade machine. Both of us were determined to finish Golden Axe once and for all. We naively thought it wouldn’t take long to complete.
Golden Axe (Arcade) is a single or double player, side-scrolling beat’em-up-arcade game. Like Double Dragon, you could move up, down and back and forth. Progression was to basically walk right, but you could backtrack if needed. The major quest was to kill an evil warlord named Death Adder who along with taking out the main hero’s family members, also stole the fabled Golden Axe. You fought through hordes of minions from giant armoured soldiers, skeletons, men and beasts. There was a choice of these 3 heroes. A dwarf, Gilius Thunderhead, a Barbarian, Ax Battler and an Amazon, Tyris Flare.
Even though the three heroes had different weapons, the attacks were relatively the same namely, a sidewards swipe and a downward slash that would alternate randomly. If you were getting overwhelmed, you could use a flashy ultimate ability. To power up your ultimate, you would need to attack these small comical Hobbit-like creatures. When you hit one, a blue vial would pop out. Collecting the vials allowed you to power up and use your ultimate. The enemies had 2 different mounts and you could throw them off. One was a small walking dragon and the other, a scorpion-like creature from Altered Beast. It was advantageous to use the mounts as they hit a lot harder.
The in-game artwork was fairly exotic for a kid in suburban Perth. One of the really interesting things is while progressing, you travelled on the backs of giant beast. You will travel across an ocean on a giant turtle (Turtle Village), then onto the back of a mammoth bird (Fiend’s Path). This adds another layer to an already great game.
Jon and I both chucked in our 20 cent pieces, and pressed start. Gilius was my pick and Ax Battle, who funnily enough had a sword, was my brothers pick. We had played through the beginning levels before so we hacked and slashed our way through quickly. We found our rhythm and time passed quickly. Other kids would look over our shoulders to see where we were at and ask how we were going. I kept my eyes focused on the screen when I said we were close, even though I had no idea. Another kid turned up and asked how close we were. I cast him a sidelong glance and the hypnotic spell I was under was broken. I realised the sky was darkening and that meant I needed to leave any minute to go home! I didn’t know how long we had to go and the trail of coins was starting to diminish quickly because as we progressed it got harder. My anxiety was starting to build. We found our way into a dungeon and the fighting was intense. Out of the middle door, this huge guy covered head-to-toe in armour with a giant double-handed battle axe entered the arena on the arcade screen. That had to be Death Adder! Death Adder took up half the screen with his height. The home stretch was in sight but we had to figure out a way to bring him down. After several deaths we figured out how to get him stuck in a corner with the walking dragon. We shot breath fire on him every time he stood up. I missed an attack and Death Adder got up and swung his axe and collected my brother! I swiped a couple of times and then dodged an attack, and then Jon and I finally swung the last attacks and finished him off. What a ride! We were both exhilarated from winning. We had invested time and money to pass the game and it was worth every single cent. We looked around and it was almost dark. Ohhh crap, we were probably going to get out butts kicked. I collected the rest of my 20 cent pieces and clinked all the way home, all the while trying to figure out what the hell we were going to say about why we were late. The fun and excitement coupled with the pressure of getting home on time, made it one of the best gaming sessions I’ve played.
Written by Adam “Bruce L33t” Lamotte
It’s hard to de-couple the great memories of this game from the quirks I can see now.