Arcade Games

Golden Axe


The powerhouse that was Sega in the late 1980′s indulged us in some awesome arcade hits. Towards the end of that decade, Sega released memorable arcade games: Crack Down, Dynamite Dux, ESWAT Cyber Police, Scramble Spirits and Power Drift. To keep up this pedigree of arcade hits, Sega unleashed Golden Axe in 1989. Once again, Sega proved that they were the king of the arcade hill.

The big rage back in the late 80′s was two player co-op, horizontal-scrolling fighting games, or in this case, slashing evil minions to pieces and getting to the final boss. The medieval theme of Golden Axe implements the hacking and slashing game play to perfection. The storyline is pretty much run of the mill – the evil Death Adder has kidnapped the King and Princess of Yuria and it is up to the protagonists to rescue them and also seek revenge on the evil that was done to their families.


To set off after Death Adder, the player controls one of three characters, Ax Battler (a Conan The Barbarian lookalike),  Gilius Thunderhead, the viking dwarf, and Tyris Flare, the Amazonian goddess (my first female video game character crush – sorry Lara!). Even though Tyris is a great character to use, her long-sword is no match for the battle axe that Gilius Thunderhead wields.


Anyway, on with the adventure – there are lots of different enemies to slash and if things get tough on screen, each of the protagonists can call upon their unique magic power – Tyris Flare has the coolest magic, she uses fire to incinerate everything on screen. There is finite magic power, so the player will have to pick and choose when best to use it. But wait there is more – mounted enemies riding creatures can be knocked off and the players themselves can then hitch a ride on the creatures and use them as weapons (swiping with their tail). The other neat attack is to charge and ram Death Adder’s henchmen by double-tapping the joystick right or left.


The level design is simply awesome – from Turtle Village (which is on a shell of a turtle), to the back of a giant flying eagle. Last but not least, there is the castle where you must defeat Death Adder and reclaim the Golden Axe.

SPOILER ALERT: Once the game is beaten, the ending shows a view of an arcade where the characters “jump out” of the game, run out of the arcade and down the street.

I have always been a huge Sega arcade fan. Whatever they pumped out, it was an instant hit. Golden Axe was no exception.

Graphics Using the Sega System 16 board, this was the pinnacle in visuals at the time. Great sprites and awesome looking levels.


Sound The background music and digitised effects and grunts add perfectly to the axe wielding and sword swooshing atmosphere.


Playability Sega knew what they were doing when adding an Amazonian beauty to the mix. Golden Axe remains easy to get into, but its best played with a buddy.


Lastability It is a run of the mill side scrolling hack and slash, but hey, there is nothing wrong with that.


Overall In 1989, I pumped the equivalent of my body weight of coins into this game. It was also one of the reasons I bought a Mega Drive when it was released. Best played with a friend, Golden Axe has it covered – great graphics, awesome sound effects and great game play.





Manufacturer: Sega
Year: 1989
Genre: Platform
Number of Simultaneous Players: 2
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Collaborative
Control Panel Layout: Multi Player
– Joystick: 8-way
– Buttons: 3 [Jump, Attack, Magic]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)


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Alex Boz (aka: ausretrogamer) is a freelance writer, blogger and social media guru based out of Melbourne, Australia. Since starting up AUSRETROGAMER, Alex has spread the nostalgic vibe of retro gaming culture across the known universe. Whatever your topic is on retro gaming – history, consoles, games, peripherals, events, people, magazines, Alex has it covered. Get in touch with Alex to discuss projects and collaborations. Just don’t get him started on Galaga or Double Dragon!

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