Get ready for a quest. You (and a friend of your choice) can, if you're in the mood, go and liberate the land of Yuria from the evil control of Death Adder. It sounds a noble proposition, certainly involving the killing of a lot of interesting lifeforms, anyway...
You choose the character you wish to become on this awesome trek. The selection is made between three tough cookies, all of whom seem to have serious psychological disorders.
One or two players can take part, choosing which character they want to be. Both can use joysticks if they want, or one can redefine the keys. That done, the quest can begin!
Basically, you must kill all of Death Adder's soldiers. Then you must kill the bloke himself. You start off near Turtle village (no, nothing to do with *those* turtles). You travel through the woods until some people appear. Then you start hacking and slashing with your sword until they're dead. This really sets the tone for the whole game. Hack, slash, maim, slay. Your opponents do steadily get harder and more numerous as you move further into the game, but even so, it's much of a muchness.
The outlook isn't totally bleak; you might be able to capture some Bizzarians. These are horse-sized dragons. They blast fire at anyone in their way, so are rather formidable foes. The enemy ride them, but if you can unsaddle one, you can leap on and control it yourself.
After every major bout of combat, you get the chance to recover and to collect magic spells as small pixies run onto the screen. They're carrying sacks full of spells, and you must kick, punch or otherwise hurt these little chaps until they throw the spells at you. All you need to do then is collect the spells, and you can be on your way again.
Golden Axe has an excellent 3D-type view of the action. The scenery scrolls as you progress, and the foe attack from both sides. The sprites are large, and there is a profusion of colour. This does occasionally have the effect of confusing the action when the screen is full of characters, though.
The screen scrolls in stages from right to left. You advance carefully, ready with the Fire button. This is your fight control. And there are quite a few moves available. Each character has a different combat technique; as well as sword slashes, they kick, barge and thump the enemy. It takes a fair bit of practice to master all the nuances of killing your foe, but it is necessary if you are to proceed.
Some baddies are very big and powerful, and when ordinary fighting techniques fail, you'll need the magic collected from the pixies. Hit the magic button and instantly all the on-screen baddies take a large amount of damage. Most should die. Skilful utilisation of your magic combined with neat Bizzarian riding should enable you to see off vast hordes of Death Adder's followers.
The game is actually very slick indeed. The graphics are beautiful; much detail, movement and colour. A plentiful variety of creatures shuffle onto the screen and they all look great. In fact, there is sometimes so much happening that it's difficult to see what's what.
Sound effects are also marvellous. The combat noises add a lot to the excellent, smooth graphical display.
And the quest you've embarked upon is a big one. You'll be fighting in the Woods, in Turtle village, on Eagle Island and at Death Adder's castle. Therein could be the games' big problem. When all the lovely graphics and sound effects are removed from the equation, all you are left with is a chopping and kicking game that goes on for a long, long time.
Golden Axe is graphically quite pretty, but the gameplay is a bit too slow and jerky to retain the excitement of the arcade original. Even hacking and slashing gets boring after a while.
Successfully capture a Bizzarian.
Hordes of well-drawn monsters, and great backgrounds too.
Arcade-like noises really add to the game.
Grab Factor 75%
It takes a while to learn the moves, but the action starts right away.
Staying Power 72%
A lot of exciting fighting, but not much else.
A superb chop-'em-up, but perhaps lacking in real variety.