For me, the first exposure to Golden Axe was back on the Sega Genesis. I can’t remember how many hours I logged on that game to finish it with my brother. To be honest, my recollection is I must have played the game not more than seven or eight years ago but then I looked at the date of the game on the iPhone/iPod and it’s more like two decades ago. The millennial generation must be looking at this in the same disdain that I have looking down on Space Invaders and thinking it isn’t worthy of a port.
At any rate, Golden Axe still retains its beat em up charm – except maybe not on the iPhone. Golden Axe uses virtual control buttons. The lower left hand side is for the directional pad and the lower right hand side is for the A, B, C buttons. Let’s be frank about it. The controls are unresponsive. Try consistently pulling off a charge and you’ll realize that there are issues with the controls. When you have trouble kicking the elves for extra magic potions, it’s not because you’re rusty at the game, it’s because the controls are inaccurate. Luckily, Golden Axe has no serious combination attacks or tricks like Street Fighter so you’ll be able to get by, but the amount of cheap shots you’ll give up to the game because of the controls is enough to have you pull your hair out.
The other problem with Golden Axe is the emulation. Besides the simple scenes where you’re beating up on one or two grunts, the game can get excruciating slow. A great cue for this is during the boss battles when not only the animation and the pace of the game slow down but the tempo of the music also begins to crawl. These technical issues don’t help with the inaccurate controls and makes for even more frustrating gameplay.
As I said, Golden Axe is an action game at its heart. The game is all about ensuring you prioritize your enemies, preferably getting them all on one side of the screen, and making sure you are hitting with the right timing. Swing a sword too quickly and you’ll expose yourself to attack. Put yourself between two people and risk being tag-teamed to death. It still has its addictiveness as you fight your way to Death Adder. The unfortunate part is you may not want to do it on the iPhone. I hear Sega has a port out for Xbox 360 and PS3. Golden Axe fans would best try their luck there.