We know that many Sega-exclusive games are a treat for gamers. But it’s not always the case that exclusives mean that a game is bound to become a cult title. Golden Axe II, for example, became a bit of a stumbling block for critics, but like many exclusives, it still appealed to a large number of players and became one of the “golden” games in the Sega collection.
The game came out as a sequel to the first title, Golden Axe, in 1991. Although another arcade game, Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder, was also released, Golden Axe II is widely considered the second in terms of story. I will now explain why I mentioned Revenge of Death Adder as well.
The story of Golden Axe II
The story of Golden Axe II tells how our familiar characters – barbarian Ax Buttler, Amazon Tyrese Flare and dwarf Gilious the Thunderhead – went to fight the army of a new enemy – Dark Gould, who this time captured the Golden Axe and enslaved the citizens of the country (the country is not named in the game, only that it is a fantasy). It’s up to the heroes to overcome all difficulties and wrest the Golden Axe from the hands of the (preferably dead) Dark Gould.
Recall that in the first part, the main enemy was Dez Adder, who not only captured the Golden Axe, but also took the king and his daughter with him. While Dez Adder will return to us in another game, there will already be other heroes. That’s why I mentioned all these games.
Why is there so much controversy surrounding the game?
It would seem that the game is telling us a new story of the main characters’ adventures. So why is there so much controversy surrounding the game?
The first thing that critics didn’t like was the decreased sound quality in the game. In my opinion, nobody spared money on sound quality, because the developers added perfect music, which more than compensates for the lack of any digital sounds in the game. Compared with the first part, there are really less digital sounds, although their quality improved considerably. In general, in the early nineties, many developers have tried not just to use technological advances, but to use the maximum possible technology. And the right harmonious combination of good music and digitized effects is a confirmation of this.
The second is the introduction of different levels of difficulty, which will affect not only the overall complexity, but also the number of levels to pass. This was also something many critics didn’t like. I want to point out that the game has seven levels, six of which are a path through the terrain, with the destruction of hordes of enemies and boss at the end, and the seventh is entirely dedicated to the battle with Dark Gould.
And despite the difficulty selection system, the game as a whole has become easier to play. Once again, the point that the sequel should not differ from the original game in this respect was at play here. Once again, there were supporters of the innovations who liked the decision.
Of course, the players who were not aware of the fact that the choice of difficulty depends on the completeness of the story was also quite a lot. And the true fans of the series gladly passed the game on all difficulty levels without paying attention to it.
Now for the obvious pluses. Firstly, the graphics were improved and the game used the most advanced graphics solutions at the time. We draw attention to the character’s movements, the quality of the overall picture in combination with the backgrounds. Clearly, this is progress.
Secondly, the combat system has been improved. We have added a new possibility to throw the enemies in different directions and use circular techniques. Previously you could only swing at enemies who tried to attack from behind, but now each character got his own device that allows you to make a circular attack. Besides, it became possible to throw enemies in any direction so that they would fall on each other, or even into the abyss.
Thirdly, the ability to partially use magic was added: when holding down the magic action button, the player can choose the strength of magic. Only that portion of the accumulated power that the player has chosen will be expended. When using magic in the first part of the game, all the accumulated jugs were spent. Golden Axe II has replaced the pots with magic books. And now these books can be obtained not only between levels, they are dropped out of the enemies of magicians.
The dragons that can be saddled remain unchanged as well. There are three types of these dragons: the first hits enemies with hind legs (the green one), the second strikes with a powerful tail with a kind of mace on the end (it’s hmm… fuchsia), and the third one spews flames at enemies (well, this one is fiery red). Dragons have more impact power than the player, but they can also be saddled by enemies. Also, if a dragon falls several times, the latter simply escapes.
Bosses in the game are still large, at least twice the size of the player, and enemies are several varieties as before. From level to level you have to spend more energy on the enemies, and it’s also advised not to get surrounded. Multiple enemies can attack from different sides at the same time, and this is critical on high difficulty levels. Of course, you can use circular techniques, but this way, you’ll have to take more hits, as circular techniques take little life from enemies.
I mentioned in passing that between levels of the storyline we are given the opportunity to get magic books. It’s also possible to regenerate life bars as well. This is done in the same way as in the first part of the game – by destroying those who appear on the screen… No, not elves this time, but mages.
Golden Axe II has an additional mode – Duel. Here we do not need to go through a storyline, and you just need to pummel and pummel the enemies. The duel ends either with the death of the player, or victory over all the enemies set against him. The difficulty is that after each battle the player does not have their life restored. The duel is divided into several stages. Each subsequent one is more difficult than the previous one, as the enemies have more life bars. There can also be two opponents against a player. And in the same way, with each successive stage their strength grows, which is expressed by the life bars.
For each level completed in the storyline, as well as for each duel held (no matter whose victory it ends with) points are awarded. Based on the number of points, the player is awarded a certain number of points. To be honest, I’m not really sure why this is done. Maybe it’s just a competitive system for a game of two. True, many avid players have found a use for this system – they simply played, competing with each other on the number of points. Moreover, even playing the game to pass the story in two.
By the way, passing the storyline mode in pairs, we play simultaneously against all the enemies. And in Duel mode, we get pitted against each other. When one of the players wins, a message is displayed informing us that we can practice against each other again. No points will be awarded for this.
Finally, to give a more thorough overview, it’s worth mentioning the magic the characters use. Axe’s is the wind. Depending on the strength, it can be a tornado or a real hurricane. Tyreese uses fire, and its intensity also depends on strength. Gilius uses stones, and their amount also depends on strength. And in case you forgot – the amount of power depends on the collected magic books, which are now dropped from the enemy mages. And another thing – magic doesn’t work in Duel Mode! So in Duels we’ll fight exclusively with our weapons. As in the previous part, Axe uses a broadsword – a double-edged heavy sword, Tyreese is a master of a long light sword, and the gray-haired dwarf Gilious, as befits a dwarf, is inseparable with a battle axe.
The ultimate question remains, what is the Golden Axe, why is it so important and where did it come from in the first place? Here’s an opinion on the matter. If Sega decided to turn the quite successful Golden Axe game into a whole series by releasing a few exclusive parts of it, they needed to play the story in a proper and high-quality way to make the game still be successful.
All the mysteries couldn’t be solved at once, so players would have an incentive to return to the Golden Axe universe in other games. That’s why Sega have two upcoming games in the Golden Axe series in the action genre, and one of them, Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe, will finally tell us where the Golden Axe comes from and why it is so important.
That’s the end of the story, as there is nothing you won’t learn from me. All you have to do is to take the joystick in your hands and play through it at last! Go ahead, through devastated villages, ruins, towers, dragon caves and guarded gates of Dark Gould Castle, where you will fight your way to the castle.
Golden Axe II Gameplay
Golden Axe II follows the same basic gameplay mechanics as the original Golden Axe. Players choose between three characters, Ax Battler, Tyris Flare, and Gilius Thunderhead, each with their own set of moves and abilities. The game consists of seven levels, each with its own unique challenges and enemies. Players must fight their way through each level, defeating enemies and bosses to progress to the next one.
One of the key gameplay improvements in Golden Axe II is the introduction of new moves and abilities for each character. For example, Ax Battler can now perform a shoulder charge, Tyris Flare can summon a dragon to breathe fire, and Gilius Thunderhead can perform a rolling attack. These new moves add variety and depth to the gameplay, making it more engaging and enjoyable.
Golden Axe II’s graphics are an improvement over the original game. The character sprites are larger and more detailed, and the backgrounds are more varied and colorful. The game also features impressive visual effects, such as explosions and lighting, that enhance the overall experience.
One of the standout features of Golden Axe II’s graphics is its character design. Each character has a unique look and personality that makes them memorable and appealing. From Ax Battler’s rugged warrior look to Tyris Flare’s fiery sorceress outfit, each character has a distinctive style that adds to the game’s charm.
Golden Axe II is a timeless classic that still holds up today. Its engaging gameplay, memorable characters, and impressive graphics make it a must-play for fans of arcade games and action-adventure games. The game’s soundtrack, which features catchy and memorable tunes, also adds to its overall appeal.
One of the best things about Golden Axe II is its accessibility. The game is easy to pick up and play, but challenging enough to keep players engaged. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or a casual player, Golden Axe II is a game that anyone can enjoy.
Golden Axe II is a classic arcade game that should not be missed. Its engaging gameplay, impressive graphics, and overall appeal make it a standout title for the Sega Genesis console. If you’re a fan of action-adventure games or arcade classics, be sure to give Golden Axe II a try. You won’t be disappointed!