The arcade equivalent of Conan the Barbarian, Golden Axe isn’t about finesse or subtlety, it’s just about clobbering. As one of three warriors, you set out to kill the evil Death Adder, a quest that involves killing practically everybody you see with sword, axe or the help of a huge fire-breathing dragon.
As a single-player game it’s not really got much to it, but like so many similar games it becomes a riot once a second player joins in, as you cooperate to eliminate the enemies and compete for the potions that open up new magic attacks. Beating each other up is naturally more fun than attacking the proper targets, a fact that should have made arcade fighter Golden Axe: The Duel more fun than it actually was.
With a main character appearing as a secret in Sega Superstars Tennis, and Golden Axe: Beast Rider released earlier this year, the series’ stock is its highest in over fifteen years. Whether Beast Rider is a worthy addition to the series is a debate for another time, but with the original games available for download on various consoles we’ll always have Death Adder.
I think I’ll close on an interesting fact: in the European series, the axe in question isn’t actually golden.