Golden Axe logo

Virgin £24.99 * Joystick

Anyone who calls themselves Death=Adder just has to be looking for trouble! Which is just as well because there are three vengeance-crazed warriors on his trail. The tale of their little disagreement is told in Golden Axe, the brilliant hack-and-slash special hot from the arcades.

The plot is as basic as any blood-caked sprite slasher could wish for. Out of the three heroes you can choose two to fight their way across a horizontally-scrolling landscape in a bid to rescue a princess. Using a series of basic fighting moves they must overcome, by force of arms, the Armies of Death=Adder.

Different Strokes
The limited number of sword strokes (three) is supplemented with some sundry close-combat illustrations of kneeing, pummelling and throwing of enemies, Golden Axe's charm however lies in the variety of ways, other than sword play, of dispatching the evil horde.

As the team leap over bridges and chasms the ordinary foot soldiers of Death=Adder throw themselves into the fray with amazing frequency. These kiddies are easily dispatched with blades but it's their friends, dragon riders and giants, who cause concern.

The lizard mounted cavalry are fun, their steeds come in three flavours: tail sweepers, flame breathers and fireball spitters. These monsters require riders to be dangerous and that's where the fun starts. If a rider is unseated in the heat of battle you can hop on and take control of the scaley tank - with the breath weapon included. It's a trick that carries the risk of getting toasted, but it can swing the battle decisively in your favour.

Gigantic Problems
Top of the Death=Adder nasty chart are the giants. Like the normal boys and girls you hack to bits (and indeed the three heroes) each one can take a set number of hits before dying. But, the larger they are the harder their weapons are. This means that one swipe from a giant's axe can result in central damage. What is more, like the double-checker buses their size reminds you of, they always seem to come in twos.

To balance out these rather chunky chaps Golden Axe sends midgets running at regular intervals. If you kick them in the head they proffer magic-potion bottles that become personalised smart bombs of apocalyptic proportions. Used at the right time even the heaviest foe can be sent into flickering oblivion without you even taking a scratch.

The most dangerous element of Golden Axe are the backgrounds. The heroes have to jump over the occasional gap in order to proceed. Yet the flawed, pseudo 3D makes jumping dangerous - as was the case in the arcade. There is a disconcertingly high chance of falling into oblivion, and losing one of your three lives, if you misjudge a leap and fall off or in-between the scenery.
This is the one graphical black mark against a game which otherwise has a strong visual appeal.

Is Death-Adder a Wimp?
The biggest chink in Golden Axe's armour is its staying power. The weakness lies in an unexpected area, normally it would fall down on the formula nature of plot and game design, but the mindlessly aggressive charm lasts surprisingly well. The problem is that the game is too easy. Anyone who crossed swords with its arcade parent will have no trouble in polishing off the Amiga version - provide they can find a cooperative partner.

Golden Axe is identical in spirit to Double Dragon, with two heroes forced to fight as a team in order to overcome masses of bad guys. The strong graphics of the arcade have travelled well, as has the games spirit. Only the ease with which the game can be beaten and the annoying landscapes, hold Golden Axe back from the mantle of classic conversion.

Magic Moments
When the going gets tough, the tough cheat. Each of the warriors can collect small pots of magic from midgets, who inhabit every level, by kicking them in the head. If Death=Adder's men start to get the upper hand then these pots can be used to call down some magical assistance. Each warrior has their own peculiar blend of conjured napalm.
Golden Axe: Tyris Flare
Tyris Flare - She has the hottest magic in town, quite literally, they start off as pools of flame and range from fire demons right up to a blast of flame from an enormous red dragon and is used to kill tough guardians.
Golden Axe: Gilius Thunderhead
Gilius Thunderhead - He can call lightning down from the heavens to help him out. The effect ranges from a joft to total electrocution.
Golden Axe: Ax=Battler
Ax=Battler - His potions cause explosions. They range from small 'pops' to full blow 'nukes' depending on the number of potions he has collected.
Dragon Riding for Beginners
Golden Axe: Avoid the dragon First find your dragon. Proceed to attack the rider, remembering to avoid their special forms of attack: tail swipe, flame jet or fire ball. One solid hit will dismount the rider.
Golden Axe: Attack the dragonrider
After knocking the rider off, the dragon will crouch down. Stand over it and hey-presto you're aboard. You have to be quick though, they tend to run away!
Golden Axe: Control the dragon
Now you are in control of this fearsome beast. Remember but one hit will have you walking again, so be careful. To use the breath weapon or tail just press the fire button and 'Bosh' it's seriously-injured bad guy time.

Golden Axe logo

Auf Segas Master-Konsole war das Hack & Slay Spektakel ja ein ziemlicher Flop, die Mega Drive Version konnte dann schon eher überzeugen. Was erwartet uns nun am Amiga - Barbaren-Power oder kalter Kaffee?

Nun, als erstes erwartet uns die übliche Rechtfertigung fürs Schlachtfest: Darth Adder, hauptberuflicher Oberschurke und Bösewicht, hat den König samt Töchterchen in sein gar finsteres Versteck verschleppt. Der Spieler hat die Wahl zwischen drei glorreichen Helden, um die Regentenfamilie wieder ans Tageslicht zu zerren.

Da wäre ein schwertschwingender Muskelprotz, ein bärtiger Wikinger mit Streitaxt und eine vollbusige Amazone. Alle verfügen sie über eine (nur optisch) andere Zauberkraft, die sich durch das Einsammeln von Tränken mehrmals aufrüsten läßt, und dann wie eine Smartbomb eingesetzt wird.

Weiters tauchen im Spielverlauf Gegner auf exotischen Reitieren auf, wenn man sich so einen Drachen unter den Nagel reißt, erleichtert das die Metzelarbeit ungemein!
Golden Axe hat dem anspruchsvollen Barbaren einiges zu bieten: Schöne Backgrounds, riesige Sprites, sehenswerte Animationen, ordentlichen Sound und ein erträgliches Horizontalscrolling.

Leider währt die Freude nicht sehr lange, denn das Game ist so simpel. daß die drei Bildschirmleben einem erfahrenen Monsterkiller genügen, um die sechs Level gleich beim ersten Anlauf durchzuspielen - meist reicht es, sich in der Nähe des Gegners zu platzieren und den Feuerknopf ein bißchen zu bearbeiten!
Schade, denn besonders im Zwei-Spieler-Simultanmodus ist die Klopperei ganz lustig... (C Borgmeier)

Golden Axe logo

The Amiga conversion of Golden Axe has been six months in the making and, to Probe and Dementia's credit, it looks and plays extremely closely to its arcade parent and the Megadrive version. A one or two-player game, Golden Axe involves guiding three noble warriors across five horizontally-scrolling stages, whilst systematically slaughtering hordes of evil Orcs and warriors. The reason for your trail of destruction is an evil warlock called Death Adder, who, in the process of seizing control of the surrounding land, killed each hero's family.

You, of course, must avenge their deaths and free your country, but before the quest can begin you must choose which of the three heroes to take into battle. Each of the trio - an Elf, an axe-wielding Conan lookalike, and a female warrior - have different battle and magic attributes, and what one makes up for in strength, he or she will lose in magical powers - thus, a nice balance between the two should be selected.

Once this has been done, the game begins with our heroes walking or running from left to right. As you progress, the twisted servants of Death Adder start to attack in groups of two or three. Using a combination of the joystick's directional controls and the firebutton, each character can perform a number of easy-to-use aggressive moves, which include shoulder barging, throwing and, of course, using whatever weapon you are holding. Each enemy must be knocked down several times before they will give up. Too many hits from them will reduce your character's energy and will eventually cost one of your three lives.

Making your task slightly easier, though, are the aforementioned magic abilities, which, when activated, summon a hellish force which kills or weakens everyone in the vicinity and is an impressive visual showcase.

There's no doubting that Golden Axe is a good conversion: the graphics, animation and sound are almost identical to those of the coin-op, and it even sports all the arcade machine's intro screens. Despite all this, though, the gameplay is its main stumbling block, and whilst it is fun to play - especially in two-player mode - and the initial urge to explore is great, its lasting appeal is dubious. A good conversion, if a little short in the longevity stakes, but definitely one for die-hard fans of the coin-op.

Golden Axe logo

An introduction to a ZERO review must contain four things: (1) The name of the game, (2) The company that's bringing it out (3) A 'joke', and (4) The name of the person writing the review. So here goes. (1) Golden Axe, (2) Virgin, (3) Er, er, er, er, erm... (4) Duncan '3 out of 4 ain't bad' MacDonald.

Writing 'scenario blurbs' for the backs of computer game boxes must be money for old rope, don't you think? Especially when the game in question is a horizontally scrolling beat 'em up which is a conversion of a Japanese arcade game. Here's how they always go - somebody's been kidnapped and you have to go and rescue them. It's as simple as that - it's just the names that change. So let's check out the Golden Axe blurb and see if the writer has decided to opt for a new approach.

"Take the challenge! (Nice start.) The evil Death Adder has kidnapped the King (ah-ha) and his daughter (blimey, both of them?) and is lurking in his lair with the precious Golden Axe (oh dear). Only you can rescue the rulers of the land of Yuria (never even heard of it) and set their people free.
But can you battle through the six levels of this action-packed quest? Probably not if you're a bit crap.) Use magic to blast your enemy; slash and hack with your trusty weapon (oo-er) - or climb onto the back of a fire-breathing Bizarrian to deal death to the foe. Hectic combat action awaits you..."

And that appears to be that. Pretty self-explanatory really, wouldn't you agree? But not exactly what I would call a gripping read. Anyway, it's my turn now. Er, for starters, what on earth is a fire-breathing Bizarrian? And how the devil do you use magic? And what sort of people/creatures will be trying to stop you reaching the final screen? All these questions will be duly answered if you can be bothered to read on.

Amiga review

Dunc: First off, especially for arcade friends who've been waiting for the home-computer version of Golden Axe to hit the streets, I'll say that Probe Software (the coders) have done rather a good job in keeping things pretty close to the original - but I'll add that the original itself never struck me as being particularly awe-inspiring in the first place, so maybe it wasn't all that hard.

Still, fans of the arcade version can now 'peel off' as they already know all about the gameplay and just needed to know if the conversion was crap or not. (It's not). So, as they disappear into the middle distance it's time for anyone who's left.

Okay, at the start of the game you get to choose to be one of three characters (and at any point a friend - if you have any - can join in, playing one of the two characters you've left). Character one is Ax Battler, who, as you probably guessed from his name, is a fierce barbarian. His 'speciality' is Volcano Magic (I'll get to the magic in a minute). Character two is Gillius Thunderhead, who's a dwarf. Apparently (so it says in the blurb) Gillius will commit suicide after killing Death Adder (he's obviously listened to too many Judas Priest albums). Oh, and his 'speciality' is Lightning Magic. Last but by no means least we come to Tyris Flare, the sprite with bosoms - the chick. She's an Amazon warrior queen and her 'speciality 'is Fire Magic.

Right, the magic then. As well as hacking with their weapons, each character can bring death or injury to everything currently on the screen by summoning magical forces. However, to do this they need to collect magic pots, which are obtained by kicking roaming elves up the botty (the elf drops a pot and disappears off the screen). Pots, basically, are power-ups for each character's particular form of magic. Get one pot and use a spell, and the results aren't particularly devastating. Get six, however, and it's carnage city. The elves, though, are few and far between, so you can't go totally bonkers with the magic spells - it's best to save them up and use your weapon for most of the fighting.

The fighting then. Well, as is usual in these things, there are hordes of different enemy sprites, but they only tend to come at you two at a time. Some are weedier than Joey 'New Kids On The Block' McIntyre, while others are about eight zillion times more vicious than Nigel Benn would be if you knocked his pint over and called him a poof.
In a nutshell the difficulty level's pitched quite nicely - progress isn't impossible, but it's not easy either.

In most beat 'em ups weapons dropped by the enemy are pickupable. In Golden Axe they can be sat upon and ridden - because for weapons, read Bizarrian.
Bizarrians are beasts of burdens, and there are several different breeds. Topple a Bizarrian rider from his saddle and you can mount the animal yourself and take control. You might be riding a real pedigree which can spurt fireballs from its mouth. Or you might be riding a moth-eaten mongrel that's only got a crappy club on the end of its tail. But either way, it's good news, as while 'on board' a Bizarrian you don't get hurt.

The Golden Axe action scrolls, in stages, from the right to the left - kill the residents of one screen and an arrow appears telling you that you can move on to the next. And that, basically is that.
Lots of different (and nicely drawn) backdrops are spread over the six levels, the animation of the sprites is quite acceptable if not mindblowing, and everything is easy to see and there's no confusion. So, the verdict.
Well, fans of the genre aren't going to be disappointed, lots to kill and, er, lots to skill. And spells too. But, as I said, I never reckoned the coin-op was fantastic in the first place - just sort of slightly better than average. Therefore I'll give the game, er, six. (Only joking). Stop


A rather dodgy bloke called Brian has pronged your motor. He apologises, gives you his insurance details, clambers into his Ford Capri and drives off. The following day you discover that his insurance company has never heard of him. Enquiries at the police station reveal that the car he was driving was stolen. You take your own to a garage and they inform you that it'll cost you £320 to replace your offside front wing, unless you have it panel-beaten back into shape, which will cost £208.36.

You are less than ecstatic about this and vow to find Brian and take it out of his hide. Brian is hiding in a maisonette in Aberdeenshire, but is guarded by hundreds of henchmen, al wielding baseball bats and riding strange horned lizards from the fifth dimension. Will revenge be yours? Probably not, but as you fight to the death, remember one thing: Thanks to Brian you're out of pocket to the tune of just over two hundred and eight quid!!

Having given Brian a damn good thrashing in the prequel, you wake one sunny morning, to discover that someone has smashed in your windscreen. It's obviously a revenge attack by Brian.

Inquiries at the police station reveal that Brian is now living in a large-ish semi in the mystical land of Cardiff. You have to teach him a lesson he won't forget. But first you have to get through his front garden, which is full of fierce warriors wielding cricket bats and riding even stranger horned lizards from the fifth dimension. So take the challenge...

Driving along in your car, happy that you broke Brian's nose in the sequel The Return of Brian, you chuck a left and trundle down to Brighton, where you're going to have a picnic. All of a sudden, a car veers out of a hidden side turning and shunts your car in the side, virtually writing it off. In the cat that hits you, you see not only Brian, but nine hundred masked henchmen with hammers and quite a few reptiles from a dimension different that ours. Will you... (Sniiiip! That's enough about Brian. Ed.)

Golden Axe logo

Virgin, Amiga £24.99

The fun thing about coin-ops is that their scenarios are so vague, so forget all mention about Golden Axes and such like. According to the intro sequence, his majesty and the princess have been taken by the 'Death Adder', so you must revenge them as well as your relatives. The game begins in a temple where you must choose between barbarian Ax Battler, amazon woman Tyris Flare and dwarf Gilius Thunderhead. Each of these have lost their family members to the dreaded Death Adder and are dedicated to his overthrow.

From the temple their quest will take them across many bizarre lands, each teeming with Death Adder's minions, skeletons, amazon women, giant sumos armed with hammers, massive knights in armour and numerous other fiends will oppose you. Some ride dangerous beasts, such as fire-breathing dragons and 'chicken-leg' creatures with vicious swinging tails. If you can knock the riders off, you can mount the creatures yourself.

Each character has three lives, with each life having three energy units. Every so often thieves come on screen - hit these to grab their potions. Green thieves' potions restore energy, blue thieves' potions provide magical energy. Magic is a sort of smart bomb which can be activated at any time, the more potions the more powerful the effect - the graphics are also different. Tyris's fire magic transforms into a hugh flame-breathing dragon's head at full power! Gilius has lightning magic, while Ax uses explosives.

Phil King Though nowhere near as technically impressive as the C64 game, Amiga Golden Axe benefits greatly from the simultaneous two-player mode. As in Shadow Warriors it's possible to hurt your partner - easily done by accident during the hectic fighting, or sometimes on purpose in the rush to get potions and food! (Don't I know it! -Ed). Even with a clumsy colleague (You! -Ed), the game is definitely more fun with two players, although it's made a lot easier -Stu and I got well into the game on our first attempt. Thankfully then, playing solo is considerably more challenging with effectively double the number of well-animated enemies to fend off.
As with the C64 version, my favourite part of the game is riding the creatures, especially the fire-breathing dragon -great for roasting your 'colleague'! Generally good graphics -apart from the unbelievably crude magic effects -and a nice soundtrack to complement some highly enjoyable hack'n'slay action.
Stuart Wynne Whereas the C64 version was virtually a work of art, a sumptious feast ofsuperlative backgrounds and genuinely magical magic, the Amiga game is a more workmanlike effort. All the character sprites are very nicely done, move quickly and have a massive amount of moves - it's great how they throw baddies who've been broken down. There's also the two-player mode, which adds a lot, three enemies attacking at once and the chickenleg creatures -all of which makes for a game which fairly accurately recreates the basic coin-op. On the negative side the background graphics are weak in places, while the magic is abysmal by comparison with the C64.
Difficulty is set so that but one-player mode is harder and while completing the game shouldn't take too long, getting a high warrior grade is harder. All in all, a pleasant-looking, nice-playing conversion of an imaginative beat'em-up which fans will like, and is worth a look from anyone. My favourite Amiga beat'em-up so far.