Golden Axe Games
The Golden Axe series for the Sega console is a series of hack and slash side scrolling games, featuring a recurring cast of characters and largely the same gameplay throughout all installments.
As the title would suggest, the story revolves around the Golden Axe, the symbol of the land known as Yuria. It is a medieval fantasy setting, inhabited by barbarian-like people, along with various, vicious creatures. In a nutshell, the fore mentioned artifact is taken by an evil and powerful villain who the heroes must defeat in order to restore the peace that once was. To achieve this, they must fight hordes of enemies, henchmen of the antagonist, using their combat prowess, magic and even by mounting other creatures.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward. You may select from several characters (some recurring, some not), each with a different flavor, but overall they are all similar. Each character can cast different elemental spells (earth, lightning, wind, fire, etc.), and this uses up power. In the first and third installments, using a spell would consume the maximum amount of magical power available, while in the second, you may choose how much to use in order to better manage the limited amount of power ups. Each character also has a different magical limit, which can be good or bad. Having only three magic gauges means that you should use your powers more often so as not to waste any potions or books that you find. Having six, however, means that you can unleash devastating magical attacks, but this is sometimes overkill, so you are tempted to keep everything for later.
There are bonus levels which show tiny sneaky creatures or mages running around the screen. Hitting them will cause them to drop whatever they were carrying, which can be either a magic power up or a health power up. Bonus health can also be gained by rescuing a certain number of prisoners throughout levels; these prisoners are not always in plain sight.
Golden Axe also features creatures which can be mounted. These are either readily available or must be taken from enemies by knocking the rider down. Each mount has different abilities, from tail swipes which knock down enemies (or even knock them off cliffs) to spitting fire and fireballs. Beware that if you are knocked off your creature, enemies may mount it and use it against you!
While the graphics and music improve with each new game, unfortunately the sound effects are lacking and even annoying to listen to. For example, in the first game, the music pauses and then plays the sound of an enemy dying, which creates a short but awkward silence.
Still, the Golden Axe series has its place in the “hall of fame” of the hack and slash genre, and in the hearts of gamers as well.