Before we start, I have to admit to being in something of a minority (i.e. of one) in the office about this one. But then, what's new? A massive game from a couple of years back (it got to number two in the Christmas chart when originally released!), Golden Axe is a much-feted conversion of the popular Sega arcade beat-'em-up.
Indeed, it won the 'Best 16-bit coin-op conversion' title at something called The Golden Joystick Awards in 1991. So why does it bore me to tears?
Well, the loading system's certainly got something to do with it (the disk accesses at several points in each level, the action simply stopping in mid-flow, Shadow Of The Beast style), but more wearing is the game itself.
Golden Axe boasts an entirely laudable 'context-sensitive' control mode, which basically means that, when you press the fire button, your character executes one of a number of different fighting moves depending on the circumstances at that particular moment.
While this is a good way of compressing the more complicated controls of the coin-op, it reduces the gameplay to a simple matter of walking along for a bit until you come across a couple of baddies, going up to them and hammering away repeatedly on the fire button until one of you falls over (This seems to be decided in a largely arbitrary manner), then walking on a little bit further, and doing it all over again against a slightly different backdrop. The scrolling seems to work more or less at random too, so that in level two (for example), you can be faced with a broken bridge which you must leap over, only to find that the scrolling won't move enough to let you reach the other side... causing you to plummet through the gap to your death!
Even without irritating quirks like this one, Golden Axe is a game which requires almost no actual skill to play whatsoever (the ability to hit fire a lot is all you really need), and after half an hour of it, I'd had more than enough. Great stuff for undemanding nine-year-olds, though.
The Bottom Line
Horrifically tedious trudger with pretty graphics and nob-all else. Certainly nothing you could actually call 'gameplay', anyway. I'm pretty certain that the rest of the office would give this a mark in the seventies (at least!) at budget price, but me, I'll score it 35%