Golden Axe

Golden Axe

Infobox VG
title = Golden Axe

caption = European Mega Drive version cover art
developer = Sega
Aspect (Game Gear)
publisher = Sega
Virgin Games (Computer versions)
Bandai (WonderSwan version)
designer = Takosuke, Moto Cbx1000, Ham Tak, Waka (Mega Drive version)
series = "Golden Axe"
platforms = Arcade, Mega Drive, Sega CD, Master System, DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Arcade Legends Sega Genesis Volume 1, Mobile phone, Virtual Console, WonderSwan Color, Xbox Live Arcade, ZX Spectrum
release = 1989 (Arcade)
December, 1989 (Mega Drive, Master System)
genre = Hack and slash
modes = Single-player
2 players cooperative
Duel (home ports)
ratings = vgratings|CERO=A|ESRB=E|PEGI=12+|ELSPA=3+
cabinet =
monitor = Raster, standard resolution 336x240 (Horizontal)
input = Joystick/Game controller, 3 buttons

"Golden Axe" is a side-scrolling arcade hack and slash game released in 1989 by Sega for the System 16-B arcade hardware. It is the first game in the series.

Makoto Uchida was the primary developer of the game and also was responsible for the creation of "Altered Beast", a similar game. Several translations of the game were created, most notably for the Mega Drive/Genesis and Sega Master System.

The kanji that appear in the title screen read as nihongo|"Senpu"|戦斧 meaning "Battle Axe", however both the game and series are known as "Golden Axe", even in Japan.


The game takes place in the fictional land of Yuria, a Conan the Barbarian style fantasy world. An evil entity known as Death Adder has captured the King and his daughter, and holds them captive in their castle. He also finds the Golden Axe, the magical emblem of Yuria, and threatens to destroy both the axe and the royal family unless the people of Yuria accept him as their ruler.

The player controls one of three warriors. The first is a battle axe-wielding dwarf, Gilius Thunderhead, from the mines of Wolud, whose twin brother was killed by the soldiers of Death Adder. Another is a male barbarian, Ax Battler, wielding a two handed broadsword looking for revenge for the murder of his mother. The last is a long-sword wielding Tyris Flare, an amazon, whose parents were both killed by Death Adder.

Much of the game consists of the character's journey to the castle. In one of the early stages, the player saves the inhabitants of the ransacked Turtle Village, which turns out to situated on the shell of a giant turtle. The turtle takes the characters across the sea, and they then fly to the castle itself on the back of a giant eagle. Once at the castle the player fights Death Adder, who is wielding the Golden Axe. At the end of the battle Death Adder is knocked down and killed by his own weapon, and the King and his daughter are freed from their captivity.


tory mode

Progress is made through the game by fighting through Death Adder's henchmen, including men armed with clubs and maces, skeleton warriors, and knights. Aiding the characters in their quest is their ability to cast spells that hurt all enemies on the screen. The force of this magic depends on the number of "bars" of magic power currently available. The bars are filled by collecting blue 'magic potions' found throughout the game. The male warrior Ax, limited to 4 bars, is able to cast Earth spells. The dwarf Gilius, limited to 3 bars, casts lightning spells and the female warrior Tyris can cast devastating fire magic, but her most powerful spell costs 6 bars. To balance the differences in magic, each class has differences in the range of their main weapon. The Dwarf which has the least magic capacity has the longest range attacks. Conversely, the female warrior which has most magic, gets the shortest range attack. The male fighter is a balance between the two.

Various steeds are found in the game, which are known as bizarrians. These can be ridden when the enemy rider is knocked off, or if one is found dormant. The least powerful steed is known as a 'Chicken-Leg', which can be used to knock down enemies with a swipe of its tail. The more powerful dragon, which can either shoot fireballs or breathe fire, is found later in the game.

"The Duel" mode

"The Duel" is a gameplay mode which was a feature of most ports, but not of the original arcade game. It can be played either single or two-player.

In the single-player mode, the player battles enemies in stages. A handful of enemies attack, and when they are defeated the player moves on to the next group of enemies. Sometimes even bosses appeared to challenge the player. The player had to make do with the health they started with for the duration of the game, and magic could not be used at all. At some stages enemies rode on bizarrians, which could be stolen and used to fight with.

If played in two-player mode, The Duel became a one-on-one battle against the other player with no enemies or stages. Like the single-player duel mode, health could not be regained, nor magic used.

Ports and remakes

Several ports of "Golden Axe" exist for many platforms, including: the Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System, Sega CD, MS-DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Game Boy Advance, ZX Spectrum, Wii and Xbox 360. The ports can be effectively divided into those of the original arcade version, and the ports of the somewhat different Sega Mega Drive version.

Differences between the arcade and Mega Drive versions

The Sega Mega Drive and Genesis version of the game retained the gameplay of the arcade game, while adding two extra levels and two extra modes of gameplay, "The Duel" and "Beginner" (an easier and shorter quest, with an alternate boss at the end). One gameplay difference in the Mega Drive version is that none of the "large" enemies can throw the player at close range, so at very close distances these enemies can't attack the player at all. Due to technical limitations (the media distribution was on a 4 megabit cartridge) some complex animations had to be cut. Additionally, fewer colors were used on-screen from a smaller palette, background detail was reduced, and parallax scrolling was removed. Due to these limitations, Gilius Thunderhead's "Golden Axe" is no longer golden in the home console translation, it is now silver. Death Adder no longer formed from several snakes who slither into a suit of armor. Also unique to the arcade version was the ending in which the Golden Axe characters escape an arcade machine on which they are being played, and chase the humans out into the street, at which point a sign can be seen advertising "Dokari Sweat", a reference to Pocari Sweat, the Japanese sports drink.

Other ports and versions

The Sega CD version featured new background music and voice-overs. Almost all of the game's Redbook background music can be listened to on a regular CD player. The graphics were identical, but the version had a higher frame rate for the characters' animations. Perhaps strangely, this version of the game is one-player only even though Streets of Rage, which can also be found on the same CD, retains its two player co-op mode.

The Sega Master System version of the game retells the original story from the perspective of Ax Battler, who is called "Tarik" in this game. While the game is only one-player, it features all of the levels and magic powers of the arcade version.

The IBM PC compatibles version was released in 1990. When played in 256 color VGA mode, the graphics are similar to the arcade version. However, it is not a direct translation of the Arcade - it is much closer to a port of the Mega Drive version with an improved color palette.Fact|date=June 2008 The overall number of levels is expanded over the arcade original to eight, through the addition of the same two extra stages also added to the Mega Drive version. The game supports all major graphics adapters available at the time of its release, including VGA, EGA, CGA, Tandy and Hercules. Although the game will run on a 4.77 MHz IBM PC XT, at least a 16 MHz IBM PC AT is recommended for fluid scrolling and animations in VGA mode.

The Atari ST and Amiga versions of the game were released in 1990 by Virgin Software. Unlike the PC version, the Amiga version is not a port of the Mega Drive version - rather, it is virtually identical to the arcade game with no loss of colors or animations. Fact|date=June 2008 The Atari ST version differs from the Amiga version in that it changes the character health status bars to gems, and enhances the icons for the characters faces. The ST version is less colorful than the Amiga version but retains all of the Arcade animations and detail. In the Amiga version, Gilius Thunderhead retains the gold color of his axe, which was silver in the Mega Drive version.

The ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 versions suffer from different problems. While the Commodore 64 version is graphically superior to the ZX Spectrum version, it limits the action to a one player experience. To make matters worse, only one enemy character is "allowed" on screen at once to battle the player.

In Japan, "Golden Axe" was released by Telenet for the PC Engine CD-ROM sometime in 1990. The graphics are considered Who|date=June 2008 to be noticeably inferior to the Mega Drive version. Fact|date=June 2008 The sound and music, despite being a CD-ROM title, is of the same poor quality as the visuals and play. Fact|date=June 2008

The PlayStation 2 version was a 3D remake, released as part of the Sega Ages series. Originally released in Japan as a budget release (it sold for only 2500 yen), the title was generally poorly received due to its lackluster graphics, poor animation, and shoddy hit detection. The game is now available in the United States and Europe as part of the Sega Classics Collection, a multi-pack of other Sega Ages remakes.

A re-release of the original "Golden Axe" was planned for the Windows systems, through Sega's partnership with Real Networks' 'RealArcade' subscription-based game download service. It never progressed beyond the beta testing stage.Fact|date=June 2008 Sega made a collection of their games, called "Sega Smash Pack" for the PC and Sega Dreamcast which were basically emulated versions of several Mega Drive games (including "Golden Axe") on one disc.

The Game Boy Advance version is part of THQ's "Sega Smash Pack", and is a port of the Mega Drive version. The game does not feature a multiplayer option for the arcade mode, although it does support multiplayer for The Duel mode.

The Mega Drive port is also available on the compilation for Playstation 2 and PlayStation Portable known in the U.S. as Sega Genesis Collection and in Europe as Sega Megadrive Collection, along with many other Mega Drive titles (including both Mega Drive sequels).

Nintendo's Virtual Console service for the Wii console offers the Mega Drive version of the game for 800 points, which is the equivalent of $8.00. It is compatible with the Wii Remote, the Wii Classic Controller and the GameCube controller. [cite web |url= |title=Wii Virtual Console Lineup Unveiled |accessdate=2006-11-01 |last=Parish |first=Jeremy |date=2006-10-31 |publisher= ]

The Xbox 360 has offered a port of the game via the Xbox Live Arcade since July 11, 2007. [cite web |url= |title=Xbox Live Arcade: Golden Axe|accessdate=2007-01-07|publisher= xbox ] It is a direct port of the arcade version of the game, rather than a port of the Genesis version. It costs 400 points to purchase, which is the equivalent of $5.00 for US customers.

The Arcade and Mega Drive versions, as well as parts II & III, are freely available on the internet site GameTap. However, free games rotate over time to different titles.

Other appearances

* Ax Battler, Gilius Thunderhead and Tyris Flare all make a cameo appearance in the arcade version of "Alien Storm". They can be found on one of the in-game television screens in that game: a "Golden Axe" logo can also be seen during that cameo. Gilius Thunderhead also makes another cameo appearance, as part of a panel of judges to rate the players score.
* In "Shining in the Darkness", Gilius Thunderhead takes the role as a blacksmith; he has his axe next to him. Also next to him is a head shot of a blue thief.
* Gilius Thunderhead is a playable character in Sega Superstars Tennis.


The death screams of the bad guys are digitized from screams used in the films "First Blood" and "Conan The Barbarian". For example, the screams of Sgt. Arthur Galt when he falls from the helicopter (in "First Blood") can be heard in the game at the first stage, when a bad guy steps mercilessly on a little man, and some of the screams of Deputy Mitch (also in "First Blood"), heard when Rambo tears his leg with a knife (in the jungle), can be heard when one of the common enemies dies (sounds like "ohh, gaaaahd!"). Fans of the game who watch the movies will be able to pick these out easily.

Another of the death screams is taken from the film "Conan The Barbarian" - the rattling gasp the skeleton warriors' make is the sound the Snake Cult priest makes when Conan smashes his elbow into his stomach before stealing his robes in order to get into Thulsa Doom's temple. The death scream Thorgrim makes when impaled by a rotating spike is also featured in the game, usually as the death sound for the giants.


External links


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