Golden Axe: the Duel
a game by Sega
Let's get one thing straight from the get-go: Yes, the games in Sega's hack-and-siash Golden Axe franchise were chock-full of fights, but no, they were not "fighting games." Sure, they let you wander through exciting places and beat up interesting people-but your opponents always attacked en masse, and your list of special moves wasn't especially long.
Golden Axe: The Duel, on the other hand, is a fighting game in the truest sense of the Street Fighter-inspired genre. In fact, the game plays nearly the same as Street Fighter II (and its pseudo sequels), with the Saturn's six-button joypad layout mimicking the familiar control setup of the SF2 stand-up.
Control similarities to other games aside, The Duel is 100 percent, grade-A Golden Axe. Several of the swordswinging, axe-wielding stars of the original games appear in GA:TD, as well as a few new fighters who bring some variety to the contest.
Back again are the barbarian Kain Blade, the Red Sonja-like Milan Flare and the dwarfish warrior Gillius Thunderhead-the original trio of heroes who gamers guided through the Golden Axe arcade and Genesis games. You can also play as Death Adder, the towering villain of the originals, although he's not the game's final Boss.
To this list of classic combatants, Sega has added Jamm, a wild, fur-clad teenager with a wicked set of claws; Keel, an elf with an icy touch; Doc, The Duel's fastest, most versatile character; Greene, a Blanka-like giant who's brawny but slow; Panchos, an armored titan with a penchant for hurtling bombs and Zoma, a withered, old wizard who can turn you into a toad.
However, Zoma isn't the only character withjhe magic touch. The same little gnomes that populated Golden Axe and doled out magic potions (and food] appear in The Duel. If you knock the tiny guys around and collect enough potions from them, you can power up your fighter with magic for 10 seconds. Your power-up time is measured by a diminishing bar, similar to the one found in Street Fighter Alpha. While it's on the screen, you can try to pull off a difficult but graphically spectacular hyper move.
The screen-filling magic effects are reminiscent of the potion-spawned powers of previous Golden Axe games, but strangely enough, none of the original effects-such as Flare's Dragon Magic-have been duplicated in The Duel.
It's with your fighter's hyper and special moves (each character has about six] that you battle your way through the Golden Axe tournament to its final Boss, named Golden Axe-a formidable, hulking, armored foe who makes Death Adder look like a sissy. If you defeat him, you win the golden axe itself-a massive weapon that grants its bearer great power and wisdom.
While much of The Duel's control interface and moves come from Street Fighter II, the graphics are modeled after SNK's Samurai Shodown games. The screen zooms in and out to show the distance between fighters, and in another nod to Samurai Shodown, combat in The Duel is weapon-based.
These weapons make for some bloody combat, too. The Duel's combatants may not gush blood Mortal Kombat-style when they're slashed, but they do lose a few pints of the red stuff every once in a while.
When you do take an axe to the head, you'll be glad to have a weapon with which to return the favor. As well when you're standing head to chest before Death Adder, you'll be glad you have more than your fists to swing.
Just as it was in the original Golden Axe games, magic is the key to victory in Golden Axe: The Duel. Although the game's magic attacks are different from the ones in the originals, they are still just as eye-popping. However, you can't conjure up any magic without first collecting potions. Make sure you beat the tar out of the tiresome, little gnomes every time they scurry across the screen, since they hurl out potions when they are abused.
Collect five potions, hold down all three Punch or Kick buttons to activate your magic power, then try to pull off the magic-move combo before the second timer runs out. Not every character's magic move is easy, but they are all worth the effort.
A successful magic attack drains almost 50 percent of your opponent's stamina. This helps out in during those tight situations.
There has been a load of fighters out lately! I'm happy to say that Golden Axe: The Duel does stand out from the rest. It's not game of the year, but it's a good fighter. I liked the Golden Axe world back in the days of the Genesis and to have it converted into a fighting game is a beautiful thing. The characters look great and so do the backgrounds. The sound is average in all aspects. I like the little dwarves running around. The potion upgrades are a nice feature. They even have the weird chicken creature. The moves are pretty standard, but the magic attacks are awesome. I was leery at first but now I'm happy that The Duel is here.
As a fan of every Golden Axe game, I was eager with anticipation for a Street Fighter-type version. Had this game come out a couple of years ago, I would've been pleased. Now, the 2-D low-frame animation doesn't quite cut it. GA:TD looks and plays a lot like Samurai Shodown with the scaling and weapon effects. The best part about the game is hitting the little imps up for their food and potions. Once you've gathered enough magic, you can do some pretty impressive-looking, full-screen special attacks. On the flip side, each character needs more special attacks. Some warriors only had three to four special moves!
The Duel doesn't offer much to separate it from the oodles of other 2-D fighters out right now. Yes, you can play as a few of the characters from the Golden Axe games, and, yes, you can gather magic from the gnomes to unleash some spectacular, screen-filling attacks. But there's little else in this game to tie it in with the Golden Axe series. Even the magic attacks of the three main heroes are different from what they were in the original games. As it stands, the Duel is just another fighter with the moves of Street Fighter II and the look of Samurai Shodown. That doesn't mean it's a bad game-it's just more of the same.
Originally scheduled to be an arcade game, it never seemed to appear. Rumors and expectations were running high for a game that was based on one of the best side-scrolling series (arcade and home). Unfortunately this series should have stayed that way. As a fighter there is nothing special about this game at all. Sure there are elves barring food and magic, but only one awkward version of magic? Games like SFA have two super attacks. Also, I really don't like their character choice! How about some of the cooler ones for the arcade version Death Adder? This is an okay fighter but it just doesn't stand out.
Sega is currently considering releasing this game in the States sometime in 1996. This installment in the popular saga breaks away from the side-scrolling theme that its predecessors featured in favor of one-on-one fighting action.
Golden Axe the Duel plays like Street Fighter II. In fact, Kain Blade is just like Ryu, complete with Dragon Punch and Fireball.
The graphics and animation are the best seen on the Saturn. You'll see lots of familiar faces from the Golden Axe series. Let's hope it does come out.
PUBLISHER - Sega
THEME - Fighting
NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
2016-08-19 Golden Axe: the Duel game added.