Golden Axe (series)

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The Golden Axe (ゴールデンアックス Gōruden Akkusu?) series is a side-scrolling, beat 'em up, hack and slash arcade video game series developed by Sega. The series takes place in a medieval-fantasy world where several heroes have the task of recovering the legendary Golden Axe, the mainstay element of the series.

Overview[edit]

Characters[edit]

  • Ax Battler is a brown-haired barbarian hero. He uses a claymore while wearing a loincloth and blue boots as well as iron bracers and a gorget. He calls upon volcanic magic, deploying lava and powerful eruptive blasts. Ax's mother is murdered by Death Adder's forces, providing his motive in the original Golden Axe. Ax was given a solo game for the Sega Game Gear titled Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe, in which he is charged with saving another kingdom. Battler is the most balanced character, having a better striking range and less spell-power than Tyris, and more powerful magic but not the extended physical reach of Gilius.
  • Tyris Flare is a red-haired amazon who wields a cinquedea-type sword while wearing a chainmail bikini, bracers and red boots. Both her parents are murdered by Death Adder's forces, leading her to seek revenge in the first Golden Axe game. Her magic attacks are all fire-based, including the summoning of a giant, flame-spewing dragon. Tyris has the shortest range of the heroes, but possesses the most powerful spells.
  • Gilius Thunderhead is the white haired, bearded dwarf who (at least in the arcade version) actually commands the Golden Axe. He wears a green tunic, leather boots and a Norse-style horned helmet. He seeks revenge in Golden Axe after his brother is murdered by Death Adder's forces, returning again to defeat Dark Guld in Golden Axe II. In Golden Axe III, Gilius is the only character from the previous games to appear, though he is not playable, he starts each of the characters off on their quest at the game's beginning. When Death Adder returns from the dead in Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder, Gilius rides on the back of playable character Goah throughout the game, and sacrifices his life at game's end to vanquish Death Adder once and for all. Gilius is granted the least powerful spells in the game, but has the best striking range in battle.
  • Death Adder is a tyrannical giant who wears a full iron helmet, pointed spaulders, and wields an enormous double axe. In addition to his brutal strength and speed while attacking, he can also cast magical spells. With his army, he enslaves the kingdom of Golden Axe and kidnaps its royal family. After dispatching his minions, Adder is finally killed by the game's three heroes, but is resurrected for Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder. Here, he survives an initial attempt on his life but perishes due to the self-sacrifice of Gilius Thunderhead.

In 2010 IGN ranked Death Adder 83rd in "Top 100 Videogames Villans".

In home console versions of Golden Axe, Death Adder is accompanied by his son, Death Adder Jr., and father, Death Bringer. These characters are palette swaps of the original Death Adder sprite, with similar powers and abilities.

Main Series[edit]

Golden Axe[edit]

Main article: Golden Axe

Golden Axe is a side-scrolling arcade hack 'n' slash game released in 1989 by Sega. Makoto Uchida was the primary developer of the game and also was responsible for the creation of Altered Beast. The game places the player in control of one of three warriors each bent on revenge against the vile dictator Death Adder. Death Adder has taken over the once peaceful land of Yuria and murdered their friend and partner, Alex. According to the Killer List of Videogames, Golden Axe is the most important arcade game of the year 1989. Several ports of the game were created, most notably for the Mega Drive/Genesis and Sega Master System. Several sequels followed.

The game focuses on three heroes. One of them 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 Longsword wielding Tyris Flare, an amazon whose parents were killed by Death Adder.

Progress is made through the game by hacking and slashing your way through Adder's henchmen, including men armed with clubs and maces, skeleton warriors (much like those in the film Jason and the Argonauts,) and knights. Aiding the characters in this 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.

Golden Axe II[edit]

Main article: Golden Axe II

Each of the heroes from the first game return to battle the forces of evil villain Dark Guld in this sequel. While Golden Axe II was a Mega Drive/Genesis exclusive from a development point of view, it saw limited arcade exposure in the MegaPlay series of arcade machines. Released in 1991, the game featured new magic for each of the heroes with the characteristic magic pots from the first game replaced by spell books this time around.

Many video game magazine editors of the time expressed that the game was very likely rushed into production to give Sega another popular title to enable the Mega Drive/Genesis to compete with its new rival, the Super Nintendo. In most respects this sequel was essentially the same as the original, though it had new sprites for enemy characters and new levels. Many fans were disappointed with this title as they were expecting more than a rehash of the first title. However, the title had the virtue of not straying too far from a successful formula and was still quite popular upon its release.

Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder[edit]

In 1992, Sega released Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder (GA: TRODA) in arcades. It was the first 32-bit Golden Axe game. Despite its high quality and popularity, the game remains an arcade exclusive as of 2014.

Only Gilius Thunderhead makes a return, riding the back of new character Goah the giant. The rest of the cast is all new and includes Sternblade the barbarian, Dora the female Centaur, and Little Trix, a young lad who carries a pitch fork. The main enemy is once again Death Adder.

The game is an overall improvement on the original with better sound, graphics, and gameplay. As well as introducing multiple paths to the franchise, the magic aspect was adjusted. Though still found in the classic Golden Axe pots, the magic spells did not increase in power with the number of pots collected but required a set number to work. TRODA was the only Golden Axe game in which one of the magic attacks was not offensive as Little Trix grew apple trees with fruit that replenished health.

Though TRODA was released third and not fourth, it is possibly chronologically the final of the four "main games." At the game's end, Death Adder rises one more time. Gilius sacrifices his life to finally end Adder's. In direct contradiction to the game's end, during the end cinematic Gilius is shown in a bar with every other character, and banner appears saying, "See you Next Game!".

Golden Axe III[edit]

Main article: Golden Axe III

Released in 1993 a few weeks after Revenge of the Death Adder, the third Golden Axe game on the Mega Drive was not released in the United States. However, the game was available for a while in North America on the Sega Channel, Sega's modem-based game downloading system. It was brought to America for real on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console. The game's lineup of playable characters includes swordman Kain Grinder (カイン・グリンダー), swordwoman Sarah Barn (サラ・バーン), giant Braoude Cragger (プラウド・クラッガー) and beastman Chronos "Evil" Lait (クロノス・”イビル”・レート). Gilius also appear as a non-playable character at the character select screen.

In this game the object is to travel along a number of truly branching paths and eventually defeat the main boss of the game, the Prince of Darkness. You can choose different branching paths in this game toward that objective just as in Revenge of Death Adder. However these paths are more elaborate than in GA:RoDA and do not loop back together. Many of the characters you encounter are good characters that were possessed and once beaten they are freed. A king turned into an anthropomorphic eagle is a recurring boss who may possibly be Prince Hellbringer's right-hand man, and is playable in VS mode.

As opposed to Golden Axe II, where the characters, moves, and controls remained largely the same, Golden Axe III brought many changes to the gameplay. The background scenery was less lush and colorful than in previous games, as were the sprites themselves. There was a greater variety of moves. Furthermore, there were several abilities unique to certain characters: for example, the Braoude could throw, while the Chronos and Sarah could double jump and wall jump. Finally, each character had a super-move with its own unique button combination.

Some features were returned to the title that had been cut in previous sequels. Golden Axe III brought back the thieves from the original game, rather than the mages from Golden Axe II. Also, extra lives could be gained by freeing prisoners scattered throughout the levels. The magic system was returned to the original version where all pots are used at the same time, as opposed to the improved system in Golden Axe II that allowed the player to only use as many spellbooks as they wanted.

Though there were innovations in play not seen in the first two, the graphics were less colorful than other Sega fighting games of the time such as the Streets of Rage series.

Golden Axe: Beast Rider[edit]

As part of E3 2006, Sega issued a press release touting a new entry to the Golden Axe franchise for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, being developed by newly acquired game developer Secret Level [1]. Secret Level has worked on the Xbox version of Final Fight: Streetwise, among other projects. A teaser trailer could also be seen during the E3 2006 event [2].

During summer 2007, fans uncovered new art [3] and 3-D models [4] from the game.

On October 2007, Play magazine revealed new details [5]. The game is titled Golden Axe: Beast Rider [6] and features the return of Tyris Flare, the female amazon warrior from the first installments of the series. Golden Axe: Beast Rider was released in October 2008.

Spin-offs[edit]

Golden Axe Warrior[edit]

Main article: Golden Axe Warrior

This Sega Master System title tells another epic tale about the Golden Axe. Unlike most of the other games in the series, it is an adventure game very similar to The Legend of Zelda. The story line continued the theme of the original Golden Axe games. The game's unit of currency is horns, and it is to be imagined that the hero cut these off of the enemies he killed (much like Conan in the film Conan the Destroyer).

Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe[edit]

Released for the Sega Game Gear, this adventure title follows the legend of the character Ax Battler. Unlike its console counterpart, it is based more on Zelda II: The Adventure of Link than the original game. The player moves around a top-view overworld and enemies randomly attacked. However the player can not see them like in Zelda II. When a battle begins, the game zooms down to a platform-style fighting environment. After killing the foe (or the foe wounding them) the hero returns to the overworld.

Unlike previous Golden Axe games, the player can learn new attacks and moves at the training dojos in each town. The currency in this game is pots, the traditional Golden Axe magic-usage item. Pots double as both currency and as an offensive attack.

Golden Axe: The Duel[edit]

Main article: Golden Axe: The Duel

Released in 1994 in the arcades and in 1995 for the Sega Saturn. Unlike the games before it, Golden Axe: The Duel is a one-on-one fighting game featuring characters who appear to be descendants of some of the characters in the original game. It had a poor reception in both markets; Golden Axe fans shirked from its Street Fighter-like combo moves, but fans of the more popular fighters did not think it had enough combos.

Other appearances[edit]

The characters from the original Golden Axe have made cameo appearances in other Sega games. 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; a Golden Axe logo can also be seen during that cameo. Gilius Thunderhead makes another cameo appearance in the game, as part of a panel of judges rating the player's score. In Shining in the Darkness, Gilius takes the role as a blacksmith, with his axe next to him. Also next to him is a head shot of a blue thief.

Gilius Thunderhead is also a playable character in Sega Superstars Tennis and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. The latter also features a track inspired by Golden Axe called "Adder's Lair". Ax Battler and Tyris Flare are available as playable characters in the Easy Mode of the Sega Ages 2500 version of Dynamite Deka. Death Adder also makes an appearance as one of the game's bosses.

Chickenleg, the pink cockatrice with the tail lash from the first game, first appeared as an enemy in Altered Beast.

Comic miniseries[edit]

Golden Axe was featured in the British comic "Sonic the Comic", which was published by Fleetway. The series was titled "The Legend of the Golden Axe" and had two six-issue runs, written by Mark Eyles and illustrated by Mike White. Issues 1–6 featured the story "Citadel of Dead Souls", wherein a necromancer attempted to resurrect Dark Guld. Issues 13–18 had the story "Plague of Serpents", which involved a snake-charmer named Cobraxis kidnapping the Queen of Gilius' dwarf race. Although it wasn't based on the original Golden Axe, instead the story takes place in the aftermath of Golden Axe II but it did feature a few notable things from the original such as the thieves that carry the magic potions although they were not the blue thieves, another notable difference is that Tyris Flare has blond hair.

References[edit]

External links[edit]