Golden Axe II
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2013)|
|Golden Axe II|
Sega Mega Drive box art of Golden Axe II, by fantasy artist Boris Vallejo
|Genre(s)||Hack 'n' slash|
Golden Axe II is a side-scrolling beat 'em up video game developed and published by Sega, first released on the Sega Genesis in December 1991. It is the home console sequel to the popular game Golden Axe, marking the second game in the series, though the arcade did see a sequel of its own in 1992, titled Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder. Golden Axe II was only released on the Mega Drive, while the original was released on many other platforms. The game later appeared in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and as an iOS port on iTunes.
The three playable characters from the first Golden Axe, Ax Battler, Tyris Flare, and Gilius Thunderhead, return in Golden Axe II to save the people of the land by defeating the new evil clan, led by Dark Guild, and reclaim the Golden Axe, which is in his possession. The game features a total of seven levels: six scrolling levels and a final end of game boss battle against Dark Guild.
Golden Axe II is a side-scrolling arcade-style (it was not actually released on arcade machines) hack 'n' slash game, very similar to the first Golden Axe. The player is given a choice of three fighters: an axe-wielding dwarf, Gilius Thunderhead; a barbarian; Ax Battler, wielding a two-handed sword; and long-sword–wielding amazon Tyris Flare. Each of the fighters has a unique magic which can be used at any time in the game to inflict damage upon enemies. Each player is given a set of life bars which are lost one by one if the player is hit.
Though the characters and gameplay were virtually unchanged from the first game, there were a few improvements. The "back attack" (performed by pressing the Jump and Attack buttons simultaneously) for each character was changed to a more useful attack that hit enemies on all sides. Enemies could now be thrown in either direction by pressing right or left on the D-pad immediately after picking them up, making it easier to hit other enemies with them or throw them off cliffs. Most importantly, the magic system was overhauled. Whereas in the first game, pressing the magic button used all of a player's magic pots, one could now use part or all of one's magic by holding the button and releasing it when the meter had reached the desired level. The magic was also changed – Ax Battler's exploding magic from the first game was replaced with wind magic, and Gilius Thunderhead now used rock magic instead of lightning. Tyris Flare retained her fire magic, but was still given entirely new animations for it. Ax Battler now has longer reach with his weapon than Tyris (in the first Golden Axe, Ax Battler and Tyris had identical reach), and can throw enemies higher and farther. Finally, there were small cosmetic changes in the form of a shoulder guard for Ax Battler and black gauntlets for Gilius Thunderhead.
There are two types of game modes. One is "The Duel", where players are pitted against enemies in one arena, battling one after the other and gradually getting more difficult. The other is normal mode, where players must navigate through different areas battling various enemies.
Between each level a rating is awarded to the player(s) based on their performance, with a final rating awarded at the end of the game. A small exposition of the main story is also given.
Normal mode puts the player into the story of the game, where they must recover the golden axe from Dark Guld. The player must navigate through multiple areas until eventually they reach Dark Guld's castle. There are seven stages in total, including Ravaged Village, Ruins, Tower, Dragon’s Throat Cave, Castle Gates, Castle, and Dark Guld’s Chamber. Each area ends with a boss where the player must battle a large group of enemies at once. Magic books are also gathered along the way allowing the player to increase their magic meter. There are also three Bizarrians that can be mounted and used against enemy characters, including Chicken Legs, Green Dragons, and Fire Dragons.
The duel mode consists of multiple rounds where the player must defeat an enemy, or a group of enemies. Every round is set in the same scenery and the player must be victorious over 15 levels in order to complete the duel.
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The game was made available on the compilation for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable known in the U.S. as Sega Genesis Collection and in Europe as Sega Mega Drive Collection, along with many other Genesis/Mega Drive titles (including both Mega Drive/Genesis prequel and sequel). On June 11, 2007 the title was added to the Wii Virtual Console. It is also available on GameTap and iTunes.
Upon release, opinion was split over whether the game was superior to the original. Many critics felt the game was a rehash of the original, citing very similar hack and slash gameplay and little improvement over the first game. Another criticism was that it was easier to beat than the original (setting the game to hard mode restores the challenge). Others felt that the graphics were a major improvement, utilizing some clever FX in later levels and although the music was well written and catchy, the poor sound effects took away from the atmosphere. Overall most felt that the game's small changes made it a more refined and enjoyable experience despite the lack of any real character or technique improvements. Mega placed the game at #14 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.
- "Golden Axe II for GEN – Golden Axe II Genesis – Golden Axe II GEN Game". Gamespot.com. Retrieved 2007-03-01.
- "Golden Axe II on iTunes". itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- Mega rating, issue 9, page 23, Future Publishing, June 1993.
- MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992.
- Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992.