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I am currently flush with Wii Points.

I hadn’t bought much from the Wii Shop Channel, Mario Kart 64, Zelda LttP, one of the Street Fighters and World of Goo.  There were plenty of classics I wanted another go at, but it was always a bit too expensive.  A few days ago however I was pointed to an online store that had the 2000 points cards for a little under £10.  If you buy direct from the Shop Channel it costs £7 for half that amount, so I snapped up two cards and started pondering what to get.

Golden Axe

goldenaxe1I remember playing this many moons ago on the Sega Megadrive.  Golden Axe is a rather simple game, a port of an arcade game it’s designed for short bursts of play, and unlike a lot of multiplayer games, bringing in a second player multiplies the fun by a factor of two.  A side-scrolling hack-and-slash, you pick one of three characters to take on a quest to destroy the evil Death Adder.  The characters include a Conan style barbarian, an axe wielding dwarf and a female warrior with some pretty powerful magic.  On your journey to Death Adder’s castle you have to deal with his many minions.  There are only a few set designs of foe, but their colour changes as they increase in difficulty.

As well as swords and axes, the characters also have their own special magical abilities.  These are powered by bottles, one bottle allows you to use the first power, when you have enough you gain access to the next most powerful ability, but once you cast your spell you have to start from the bottom.  This can result in only seeing the more basic magic, especially with the sorceress, who it is well worth saving up for.

goldenaxe2Along the way you encounter mounts, in the form of giant lizards and dragons.  The enemy are riding them originally, but they are easy to knock of and then you can ride them yourself.  I remember playing two player several years ago with someone and we were constantly fighting over them, knocking each other off.  This is typical of this style of game, you either play fairly or declare open season on each other.  Since you can’t usually kill each other it comes down to stealing health and power-ups.  Great fun.

Progress can be quite challenging, with only a set number of continues.  Whilst playing it I came across some skeletons, I seemed to remember they were quite challenging, but the first few fell easily, however I was about to be reminded of why I thought they were difficult.  On the later levels if two can get on either side of you, your health can quickly disappear.

goldenaxe3At the end of every level you make camp and little thieves come along, if you have a lot of magic bottles then they will take some of them.  You then wake up and have to chase them around the screen, each time you hit one they drop a bottle.  Later in the game some green ones come along who, instead of dropping bottles, drop some meat that will increase your health.

I enjoyed my first play through, I didn’t make it to the end but got pretty close so I shall be trying again.  After a while though I only see myself playing it with other people, which will take a lot of playing to get old.  As usual with arcade ports, particularly in the SNES\Megadrive era, reviewers often bash them for not living up to the originals.  I have never played any of these games in an arcade, and I can easily understand why they can’t live up to them, so this doesn’t bother me.  One thing though, apparently the enemies screams were not part of the arcade original.  These unfortunately cut-out the background music and attacking sounds, it can be a little jarring, not enough to spoil my fun though.

This is mainly a game for nostalgia, fond memories of playing it in the past.  Players who are new to the game are less likely to get enjoyment out of it, except if they are looking for a good co-op game.

As screenshots from console games can only be obtained with a capture card (which I don’t have) I’ve had to copy from IGN.

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