Golden Axe III
|Golden Axe III
ゴールデン アックス III
Golden Axe III cover art
|Release date(s)||Mega Drive
|Genre(s)||Hack 'n' slash|
Golden Axe III (ゴールデンアックス III?) is the last installment in the Golden Axe series released for the Sega Mega Drive on June 25, 1993. The cartridge unit was only released in Japan while the North American release was a Sega Channel exclusive.
The game has been subsequently re-released (along with many other Mega Drive titles) for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable as part of the Sega Genesis Collection. It was also re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on September 4, 2007, and in PAL regions on October 5, 2007. It was released on the North American Virtual Console on October 22, 2007. It also appeared in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Plot and gameplay
Damud Hellstrike, the Prince of Darkness, has taken away the Golden Axe and put an evil curse over all the warriors. However, one of the heroes has their curse relieved and is sent to set things straight – lift the curse off the others, defeat the villain and return with the Golden Axe.
The gameplay has been expanded slightly but is essentially the same hack n' slash as the previous games. New features to the series include new characters, new moves (special attacks, teamwork attacks and teamwork magic spells) and junction points where the players can choose which path to take.
The characters include a giant, Proud Cragger (プラウド・クラッガー), a humanoid black panther, Chronos "Evil" Rait (クロノス・”イビル”・レート), along with a swordsman, Kain Grinder (カイン・グリンダー), who resembles Ax Battler, and a swordswoman Sahra Burn (サラ・バーン) who resembles Tyris Flare. Gilius Thunderhead is the only character who appears from previous games, though he isn't playable and only appears during cut-scenes. Kain Grinder and Sahra Burn are referred to as Ax Battler and Tyris Flare respectively in the Sega Channel localization of the game.
While the characters in the two previous games had a relatively limited moveset, Golden Axe III included many new moves including: blocking, sweep attacks, projectile attacks, defensive and offensive special attacks, and an updated grappling system. Furthermore, there are several abilities unique to certain characters: Proud possesses an airslam throw that does severe damage, while Chronos and Sahra can double jump and wall jump. In multiplayer mode, the characters can do team attacks similar to a human slingshot. Finally, each character has a super move that sends a projectile across the screen (except in the case of Chronos who leaps across the screen in an unstoppable lunging attack).
Some features that were removed in the second game were brought back in Golden Axe III. The mischievous gnomes from the original game who carried magic potions and food have returned in place of the enemy mages from the second game in the series. Extra lives can be earned by freeing a certain number of prisoners scattered throughout the levels; some prisoners are trapped in barrels, or stuck in crystal cells, others are guarded by an enemy that must be slain in order to free them. The magic system returned to the original version from golden axe 1, with characters using all collected magic potions every time, rather than allowing the player to choose how much magic to use by charging the magic meter like in golden axe 2. On the other hand, the characters can use devastating new spells with combined casting; on a whole, magic is more effective in GA3 than the other 2, but there is no diversity in the amount of max damage—each character does the same max magic damage. The mounts in GA3 have turned into a hybrid snail-ostrich, instead of the chicken-leg or the dragon-raptors in the previous games. The mounts are known as Bizarrans. "There are four types of Bizarrans in Golden Axe 3. The most impressive is the firewave Bizarran which is a Red Dragon that fires a fast moving wave of flame across the screen. The purple Snail uses its tongue to attack, the green Snail is a more powerful version with a longer tongue, while the Green Dragon will bite and throw enemies over its shoulder. Players are able to choose their own route to the golden axe. If the player reaches the last boss and they are not on their last continue they may get the good ending.
- Kain Grinder: Kain is the balanced character of the roster, his tribe was shunted by the forces of Damud. He boasts excellent reach and priority with his sword. Kain possesses no apparent weaknesses. He uses ice/water magic.
- Sahra Burn: Sahra's short weapon, inherited by her father, reach is offset by her quickness. Her shortcomings are easily overcome by her powerful spinning kick and elusive nature. Sahra, a skilled dancer, has a double jump; she can also jump off of certain walls to either an avoid attack, or gain some battle leverage. She uses fire magic.
- Proud Cragger: Proud, former prisoner of Damud's army freed by Gilius that possesses giant heritage. Proud is a slow yet powerful character. He is the only character to have an airslam. Proud's special attack is perhaps the most challenging to pull off and involves releasing a small tornado projectile. He uses earth magic.
- Chronos "Evil" Lait: Chronos is humanoid panther created by the black magic of Damud, arguably the most powerful character in the game, mainly due to his super move in which he lunges across the screen in an unstoppable and unblockable attack. He uses wind magic.
- Gilius Thunderhead: The dwarf retired before this adventure; he dropped his axe into the mithril fires of his home land, and stole a walking staff from one of the elves that tried to rob him while he was camping. He tried to give the Axe back to the gods, but a shipwreck caused him to be injured losing the weapon to Damud. Through his ancient wisdom, the dwarf has adopted the role of sage, guiding the characters on their quest.
- Eve: Hellstrike's mysterious follower is a humanoid Griffin that battles the player several times. In the last encounter it is revealed Eve is actually the missing King under Hellstrike's curse. Eve is a playable character in the games VS mode.
- Damud Hellstrike: A Demon Prince that stole the Golden Axe from Gilius and placed a curse on the land. Hellstrike is an imposing helmeted figure wielding the Golden Axe, bearing a strong resemblance to Death Adder, the antagonist from previous games in the series. If the player beats Hellstrike when not on their extra continue, he will reappear for the true final battle in a more powerful form.
In a feature on the game, Electronic Gaming Monthly commented, "Sega of Japan is not going to release this title here in the States - and for good reasons! The graphics are by far some of the most plain looking on the Mega Drive. Plus, the new magic effects aren't as impressive as before. So, if you are considering purchasing this title from an overseas seller, don't waste your bucks!"
IGN gave the Virtual Console release a 5 out of 10, saying "Legend has it that SEGA thought the quality of the product was so low, that it would be worthless or, worse, damaging to even publish the game in the States. And whether or not that's actually true, the quality assessment at its heart is on target – because Golden Axe III is certainly the worst of its franchise trilogy." Like Electronic Gaming Monthly, they described the graphics as bland and ugly, and particularly criticized that the gameplay showed no advancement from the first Golden Axe, even removing some of the advancements seen in Golden Axe II.
- "Death Adder's Castle – The Internet's Premiere Golden Axe Resource". goldenaxe.classicgaming.gamespy.com. Archived from the original on June 6, 2007. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- "Golden Axe III". Electronic Gaming Monthly (53) (EGM Media, LLC). December 1993. p. 110.
- Thomas, Lucas M. (November 19, 2007). "Golden Axe III Review". IGN. Retrieved 2 October 2014.