Golden Axe: Sega’s Fantastical Button Masher Remembered

Golden Axe
Golden Axe!

Despite being SNES owners as kids, we often looked across at Sega’s 16 bit console the Mega Drive (Genesis over in America) and envied titles like Golden Axe. The side-scrolling beat ’em ‘up was ported over to Sega’s console in 1989 after enjoying a successful run in the arcades. It held landmark status at our primary school in the early 1990s! Today… we reminisce.

Golden Axe

For younger gamers, this type of thing may look positively inane. Back in the day, and still now quite frankly, this stuff was red hot! In Golden Axe, a fantasy title inspired by the likes of Conan the Barbarian, you star as a hulky protagonist in the land of Yuria. This evil thing called Death Adder has captured the King’s daughter. ZOMG! You have to rescue her.

The stage is set to suit up with a load of heavy weaponry and just batter the living crap out of Death Adder’s henchmen until the end of the level. You could even jump on weird creatures and ride them around – epic! It’s basic stuff compared to these days, but it was an engaging game that also featured multiplayer options! You could give on in with a friend and batter your way to saving the land.

We always really liked the habit of the characters “relaxing” (he looks like he’s slouched over drunk, really) at nighttime around a campfire. This was picked up in the brilliant Shovel Knight – this was primarily inspired by NES era games like Mega Man 2, but there’s also a lovely nighttime scene at the end of each knight where Shovvers rests up around a fire.

Shovel Knight campfire

Now you can pick Golden Axe up on iPhone these days and there are dedicated services providing Sega (or SEGA – whatever was your preferred way of writing it) classics to modern generations and old fans. We’d particularly love a Mega Drive Mini to come out, in the style of the SNES Mini from 2017.

Sega doesn’t make games consoles these days, but it should be celebrating its history more often. We’ve had the Shenmue HD remake thing, plus a new title for that series, so how about a Mega Drive Mini dammit, Sega? The Mega Drive may have been for NOOBS, but there’s nothing wrong with being noobie scum every now and again, eh? Especially when this much fun is involved.

4 comments

  1. I didn’t really think much of it at the time, but now that you mention it, the campfire scene in Shovel Knight does seem very reminiscent of Golden Axe. I did check out Golden Axe on a compilation disc, and I remember thinking it was pretty good – it sure is difficult though; I think I made it to the last stage only to get killed by the main villain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s still pretty good, but back in the early ’90s when I first played it… it was bloody incredible! Remarkably basic these days, of course. Another example of a short game being made to feel longer through exaggerated difficulty.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, that’s the only way anyone thought to give these games longevity (or probably could given technical constraints at the time). I had a little bit of fun with it, but it clearly hasn’t aged particularly well. I would recommend Streets of Rage over it.

        Liked by 1 person

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