Review by PurestProdigy
"Lack of challenge and replayability stunt this game's greatness"
Golden Axe is an okay hack-and-slash type game that will kill some time, and is even more entertaining with a buddy. However, elements such as great visuals and solid gameplay are overshadowed by a simple, uninspired storyline, even simpler challenges, and unfortunately you will not get much play time out of this short game.
The storyline of this game is as mentioned above, very simple; an evil entity known as the Death Adder has decided to kidnap the King and his daughter. He also has managed to obtain a Golden Axe which apparently is a powerful weapon that grants him strength. The three heroes, a Dwarf, a Barbarian, and an Amazon, must journey to the castle to save the royal family and the kingdom. After each level, a map showing the progress of this journey is displayed along with a small excerpt that describes the area just passed and the area to come. Thankfully, the storyline is not where this game is supposed to shine as by itself, it gives very little motivation to play the game.
Gameplay, on the other hand, is a reprieve from Golden Axe's bland, cliched storyline. Players hack-and-slash their way through the game (obviously) mashing the attack button, but can mix it up with jumping attacks, magic, and special attacks executed by pressing the jump and attack buttons at the same time. These special attacks are useful for quickly taking out enemies behind a character. Magic itself is executed once a character has enough potions that can be obtained from defeating certain enemies. Different spells are unleashed by having different amounts of these potions in stock. Combo attacks are also possible by getting close to enemies and mashing the attack button. This will cause the character to go into an animation that enemies cannot escape from unless the player is interrupted by a rogue enemy or decides to face another opponent. Players can also dash by double tapping forward, and then hit the attack button to perform a swift dashing attack. The three characters you can choose from are very balanced yet have their own techniques that differentiate them from the others. The Dwarf excels in strength but is not a very avid magic user. The Barbarian is the all-around character who neither surpasses the others in their strengths, but also has no prevalent weaknesses. The Amazon is weaker than the other two but has some really awesome and impressive magic spells.
Now with all this coverage on gameplay, one should expect one epic gaming experience, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the skills you develop through practice go unchallenged even through this game's hardest difficulty settings. You get infinity continues, therefore making it literally impossible to lose this game. Even if it were not for that however, enemies patterns are really easy to pick up on, and this game is dreadfully short. It can be beaten in twenty minutes even if it's your first playthrough of the game and with only three characters does not leave much up to replay value. In addition to this, all of the bosses in the game, aside from the end boss, are simply palette swaps of enemies you will meet later on, and are hardly any challenge at all.
Some people include Achievements as a prerequisite for purchasing their games. If that is the case, then these people will be glad to hear that the simplicity of this game will not disallow them from getting an easy 200/200 in less than an hour.
All in all, Golden Axe screams potential but falls short because of it's storyline and easy difficulty. The gameplay is easy to pick up on yet has enough depth to be entertaining. The graphics are impressive for a two-dimensional game, and there is very little to complain about there. The game also has a convenient save state feature in case you need it although considering how fast it will be beaten it is very unlikely you will need it. If the game were longer or gave the player more reasons to play through it multiple times then it would improve that much more.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/08
Game Release: Golden Axe (US, 07/11/07)
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