Golden Axe Review

When we reviewed Sega’s port of Sonic in May, the shoddy emulator made the game difficult to play. We decided to give Sega’s emulator a second chance with Golden Axe, a port of the classic side-scrolling hack and slash arcade game from 1989, but the port fails once more, and then some.

If you haven’t had a chance to play Golden Axe, this is the game that inspired many hack and slash games after it. The concept is quite simple. You play as a Barbarian, Amazon or Dwarf, each with his or her own story that leads to one conclusion: Kill lots of henchmen on the way to the evil Death Adder, who wields the Golden Axe.

Nice ride!

OK, so the story may be a bit of a yawn, but the gameplay was revolutionary when Golden Axe was originally released in arcades. Each of the three characters has his or her own perks, including different magic spells and weapons. A huge variety of enemies, mounted combat on top of beasts and dragons and a carefully rendered 2D world turned Golden Axe into a timeless classic cherished by many gamers.

All of this is available in this port, but those who have played it in the past will find nothing new here. Other ports of the game have included new modes, such as a survival ‘duel’ mode and co-op multiplayer. Should Sega update this title, the inclusion of those modes should be a priority.

Due to the half-baked emulator, this game plays terribly. The controls seem like an afterthought. The basic setup uses a small D-pad and three buttons for jumping, attacking and special moves. These tend to be unresponsive with imprecise movement, and combos, such as aerial slices and triple-slashes, can be nearly impossible to pull off.

Hot stuff, coming through.

In the original iteration of Golden Axe, the character’s reflexes were a huge selling point. The controls in this port do not bring the sense of excitement back. You have the choice of accelerometer controls, but these can be jerky and unstable.

Once again, the emulator runs with a slow framerate, something we also experienced with Sonic. When the dwarf drinks his magic ale to unleash a deadly magical spell, it’s as if he’s merely sipping it instead of chugging it down.

The framerate doesn’t just hurt the aesthetics, either. Many times we ended up dying due to a slight freeze in the game. As the iPhone is obviously much more advanced than an arcade machine from the late 80s, there is no excuse for this.

Overall, this port of Golden Axe feels like a quick cash-in on a big-name title. With game-breaking controls and no new content, Golden Axe should be avoided by everyone until major improvements are made.

For its high asking price of $4.99, the port is clearly not worth it.

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