All right, so I didn’t like Golden Axe. I thought it was bland, the combat wasn’t very interesting and what little fun there was is exhausted after 5 minutes of playing.
So with 2 whole years between this release and the original, you’d think Sega had been busy tweaking Golden Axe II to perfection?
Set in Yuria, 2 Years have passed since Death Adder was defeated, and again evil is on the rise. This time Death Saul has stolen the Golden Axe, and Tyris Flare, Ax Battler and Gilius Thunderhead return to whomp some badguy ass.
Golden Axe II is a sidescrolling beat ’em up, you walk left to right on 6 levels and punch things with your mighty sword/axe. With the final level, level7, serving as a straight up boss fight.
The characters have had slight tweaks, Ax is no longer wearing speedos, and now is wearing a blue loincloth, and Tyris has a sort of sarong type dress thing. Gilius is the same.
Returning are the spells, and magic power from the first. Here there are two slight differences. Instead of using all your magic power when you use magic, you can press and hold the special button and charge the magic power. It means you can use the crappy spell a few times, or unleash your ultimate spell, it is all a little pointless though, as the magic does next to no damage. Even a fully charged Ax magic won’t kill standard enemies in one go.
The other difference is the gnomes have gone, instead of beating little midgets to within an inch of their life to get magic and food, you beat on evil mages. It makes more sense to be honest, and means you have an extra enemy to avoid, and making combat a little more interesting.
The three playable characters still play the same: Gilius is still harder, and has the worst magic. Tyris hits like a bee, but has epic magic. Ax is in the middle, so is average at both.
The combat still isn’t great, and is still easily beaten by all of it’s contemporaries. Considering Sega had made Streets of Rage at this point, and Konami were churning out quality Turtles games (Turtles in Time and Hyperstone Heist) or Batman Returns so you would think Sega would have tried tweak the weak fighting from the first game, but no.
Enemies will still endlessly circle you, meaning the only tactic is to spam jump and hit. But the worst thing, is that enemies take too long. Standard skeletons take 15 hits on level two. That isn’t 15 jump hits, that is 5 three hit combos as Gilius. It makes the standard fodder an unbelievable chore to deal with.
Also while standard mobs are taking 15-20 hits, the bosses only take 20-25, even Death Saul. It is honestly dull, rather than making the bosses harder, they just flood boss fights with mobs. If you’re playing two player you can easily manage these, but in single player you can easily be trapped in a dull cycle of cheap enemy hits. On my 2 fights against Death Saul, he just stood slightly off screen throwing skeletons at me. If you don’t deal with these, he uses a magic attack. Thankfully Death Saul isn’t as much as a chore as Death Bringer, but he is a little cheap.
On top of that, the bosses are HEAVILY recycled. The is a cool Minotaur, that’ll appear as a standard mob, and sub bosses a number of times. There is also a cool headless swordsman, who again… Is somewhat over reused. As the mechanics are easy to figure out, all you’re doing is beating up the same enemy, but with slightly more health each time. It gets boring, especially the 5th time you fight the same boss.
Golden Axe II still isn’t a good game, but it is improved on the first. While fighting is more of a chore, the magic spells are more interesting, and the final boss isn’t an impenetrable wall of death. The game is still on the harder side, so don’t expect to complete it on your first few attempts though it is easier than the first.
There are better Beat ‘Em Ups out there, but Golden Axe II is at least worthy of a quick look. Don’t expect too much, and make sure you bring a friend who is competent. At 30 minutes for a playthrough, Golden Axe II is slightly shorter and with less to do, but is slightly more fun. The fun lasts a whole TEN MINUTES this time!
Pros: Music is ok, magic is better, slightly improved character models
Cons: Still not very good, they got rid of the awesome map screen from the first game!
Back in the day
Golden Axe II got mixed responses, official Megadrive magazine shilled and gave it 92%, while other scores were in the low 60s.
The game was criticised for being too similar to the first, though the refinements made, made it arguably a better game.