Golden Axe

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Golden Axe
Golden Axe logo.png
Genre(s) Beat 'em up
Hack & slash
Developer(s) Sega
Platform(s) Arcade, Sega Genesis, Mega-CD, Game Gear, Master System, Sega Mega-Play, GameTap, IBM PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, PC Engine CD, WonderSwan, ZX Spectrum, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Virtual Console, iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows
First release Golden Axe
May 1989
Latest release Golden Axe: Beast Rider
October 2008
Spin-offs Action-adventure games, fighting game

Golden Axe (ゴールデンアックス, Gōruden Akkusu) is a series of side-scrolling beat 'em up arcade video games 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.


Main series

Golden Axe

Golden Axe is a side-scrolling arcade beat 'em up 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. Several ports of the game were created, most notably for the Mega Drive/Genesis and 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 amazon, Tyris Flare, whose parents were killed by Death Adder.

Progress is made through the game by hacking and slashing your way through Adder's forces. 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

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[ which? ] 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 NES. 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

In 1992, Sega released Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder in arcades. Despite its popularity,[ citation needed ] the game remains an arcade exclusive as of 2019.

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 Stern Blade 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.

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. The Revenge of Death Adder 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.

At the game's end, Death Adder rises one more time. Gilius sacrifices his life to finally end Adder's. During the end cinematic Gilius is shown in a bar with every other character, and a banner appears saying, "See you Next Game!"

Golden Axe III

Released in 1993, after Revenge of the Death Adder, the third Golden Axe game on the Mega Drive was released only in Japan. 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 Europe and North America on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console. The game's lineup of playable characters includes swordsman Kain Grinder (カイン・グリンダー), swordswoman 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. The player can choose different branching paths in this game toward that objective just as in Revenge of Death Adder. However the paths in this game are more elaborate and do not loop back together. Many of the characters 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.

Critics applauded Sega's decision not to release Golden Axe III in North America, speculating that the game's drab graphics and generally mediocre quality would have damaged the Sega Genesis's reputation. [1] [2]

Golden Axe: Beast Rider

The game is titled Golden Axe: Beast Rider 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.


Golden Axe Warrior

This Master System title tells another epic tale about the Golden Axe. It is an action-adventure game similar to The Legend of Zelda . The storyline continues 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.

Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe

Released for the Game Gear, this action-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 attack. However the player can not see them like in Zelda II. When a battle begins, the transitions 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

Released in 1994 in the arcades and in 1995 for the Sega Saturn, 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. Though the potion-dropping imp mechanic was praised, most dismissed the game as a decent but nondescript one-on-one fighter. [3] [4]


Other appearances

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.

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 .

In other media

Film and TV projects

In 2014, Sega formed the production company Stories International and teaming up with Evan Cholfin for film and TV projects based on their games with Golden Axe as an animated project with Universal Studios developing as a Movie or TV series. [5] [6] [7]

Gilius makes frequent appearances in the 2014 anime Hi☆sCoool!, alongside other SEGA characters. Of the cameo characrers, Gilius notably appears and is referenced more often than some of the others.

Comic miniseries

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 feature the story "Citadel of Dead Souls", wherein a necromancer attempts to resurrect Dark Guld. Issues 13–18 have the story "Plague of Serpents", which involves a snake-charmer named Cobraxis kidnapping the Queen of Gilius' dwarf race. The story takes place in the aftermath of Golden Axe II.

Archie Comics

Characters from Golden Axe would later appear in the Worlds Unite crossover from Archie Comics alongside several other Sega and Capcom franchises. [8]

Inspiration for other games

The main themes of the series were later used in the one-on-one fighting game Soul Edge in 1995, as well as its sequels. The setting was similar (i.e. historical fantasy), and the storyline was for the heroes to recover a legendary weapon (this time an eponymous sword).

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  1. "Golden Axe III". Electronic Gaming Monthly (53). EGM Media, LLC. December 1993. p. 110.
  2. Thomas, Lucas M. (November 19, 2007). "Golden Axe III Review". IGN . Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  3. Guise, Tom (December 1995). "Review: Golden Axe: The Duel". Sega Saturn Magazine (2). Emap International Limited. pp. 80–81.
  4. "Golden Axe: The Duel Review". Electronic Gaming Monthly (84). EGM Media, LLC. July 1996. p. 26.
  5. Marc Graser (December 11, 2014). "Sega Taps Evan Cholfin to Adapt its Videogames for Films, TV, Digital Platforms (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  6. Barry the Nomad (September 1, 2015). "Rumor: Universal Studios Onn Track To Make A Movie or TV Show Based On Sega's Golden Axe". Segabit.
  7. Dave McNary (December 5, 2016). "Sega's 'Altered Beast,' 'Streets of Rage' Games to Be Adapted for Film, TV". Variety. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  8. Schedeen, Jesse (February 26, 2015). "Capcom and Sega Join Forces for Worlds Unite Comic Book Crossover." Retrieved January 26, 2019.