Golden Axe, originally released for the arcades in 1989, is a side-scrolling beat-'em-up by Sega set in a fantasy world. Notable for being one of the earliest arcade ports for the Sega Genesis.The game follows the efforts of three warriors on a mission to gain revenge by killing the tyrant known as Death Adder, who not only conquered the land of Yuria and captured both the king and the princess of the realm, but killed a family member of each of the protagonists. The playable characters include:
Ax Battler: A barbarian who wields a broadsword (not an axe, as one might expect) and is able to use explosion-based magic. His mom died at the hands of Death-Adder.
Gilius Thunderhead: A dwarf who wields an axe and uses lightning-based magic. His twin brother died at the hands of Death-Adder.
Tyris Flare: An amazon who wields a longsword. She uses fire magic. Both of her parents died at the hands of Death-Adder.
The game had several unique features such as a magic gauge which would increase the power of your magic attack and change its animation depending on how many magic potions you had, and the ability to ride fire-breathing dragons and other animals.Golden Axe was ported to various platforms and inspired a series of sequels and spin-offs on various Sega platforms. The full list of games in the series are as followed.
All There in the Manual: The names of the characters (including the heroes) in Golden Axe III are -only- in the manual, and the game was only released in Japan originally. This also applies to the enemy characters in II.
Amazonian Beauty: Tyris Flare, the Zuburokas and of course Sarah Barn. If you squint, Dora the Centaur in Death Adder's Revenge.
Animated Armor: A type of enemy in second game, replacing Knights in first game.
Artificial Stupidity: Just about everyone not controlled by the player get stuck on various obstacles, not to mention falling in Bottomless Pits while trying to reach you or escaping.
Art Shift: All the Mega Drive games in Japan feature a precautions guide at the end of their manuals on how to properly maintain their Mega Drive cartridges. However, the precautions guide in the Golden Axe II manual was drawn in a realistic Americanized style instead of the usual cartoony one.
Awesome McCoolname: C'mon; Ax Battler, Gilius Thunderhead, and Tyris Flare. They're either fantasy heroes or rock stars.
An Axe to Grind: Weapon of Choice of Gilius and Death Adder, the latter who wields the eponymous Golden Axe. The amazons from the first game wield smaller hand axes.
Composite Character: Tarik, the main character in the Master System version, who is a renamed Ax Battler, but with the ability to use the magic powers from all three of the arcade version's characters.
Dem Bones: From skeletons to ridable dragon skeletons.
Demoted to Extra: Gillius goes from playable into NPC mentor that appears only in the 1st stage and ending of Golden Axe III. The manual justifies this that he's grown REALLY old.
Disney Villain Death: Death Adder gets an awesomely over-the-top one in Revenge of Death Adder; he gets an axe planted in his head, falls screaming off the dragon and then for no reason EXPLODES in mid-air.
Dragon-in-Chief: Death Adder in Genesis version of first game. The golden Headless Knight in second game, complete with Orcus on His Throne moment as seen in opening and penultimate battle.
Dual Boss: The Bad Brothers, the bosses in Round 1.
Easy-Mode Mockery: The Genesis version features a Beginner mode that lasts only three stages, ending with a battle against Death Adder Jr., a weaker version of the regular Death Adder. Magic spells only uses two potions instead of the entire bar.
Everything's Better with Spinning: In Revenge of Death Adder, the players may team up on a stunned enemy (bosses included) for a high-powered, multi-player pile-driver. If 3 characters grab the enemy, they do a spinning pile-driver. If there are 4 players, then they hit the unfortunate enemy with a spinning pile-driver so powerful that the enemy continues to spin into the ground after they've released him/her/it. Depending on game settings this powerful attack might take off an entire life bar and can be fatal to a mid-boss.
Fake Ultimate Mook: The Corvettes in the third Mega Drive game have full armor in a game where just about everyone else wears a loincloth and possibly a bikini top, are twice the size of the player and the first one is treated like a boss. They are rather easy to defeat once you notice their huge crippling weaknesses, namely their lack of any ability to hit an airborne character, being easily grappled as soon as they (slowly) stand up.
However, they are still strong enough if they appear in a group of two or three. The Final Boss session is the example. if they flank you while you are busy with the boss, it's not a surprise if they can give you some trouble. And in general, their combo attack is actually quite painful.
Fan Remake: Golden Axe Myth, which is actually a prequel. Telling the story of Ax Battler, Tyris Flare, Gilius Thunderhead and Death Adder as they are ordered to retrieve the Golden Axe after it was stolen by a demon.
Also chicken-leg's attack from the first game is seemingly this. Especially if it's done on Ax Battler and Tyris Flare, the attack looks like whipping their lower body, close to their sensitive area◊. It's perhaps slightly easier to be seen in PS2 remake. And that attack even knock down your character despite the damage is quite weaker than any Mook's normal combo attack, the attack took about 7 hits to lose your life bar by one.
In second game, lizardmen's tail whip may also counts, considering their tail's location is ine the same height as the groin of Ax Battler and Tyris Flare. And two of this attack are actually strong enough to make you lose one life bar!
Skeletons/Dead Frames in third game are quite short compared to the heroes. So their low attack may also counts (and considering their low attack is also one-hit knock down despite the damage is slightly weaker than their combo attack).
In the original game, the player can ride Chickenlegs (bird-lizard creatures) and Dragons (who come in blue and red variants). The fireball-spitting red dragons are pretty much a game breaker.
Revenge of Death-Adder added giant scorpions and mantises as well. The scorpions and mantises each come in two colors, one color fighting exclusively with its claws, the other using a special attack (breathing fire for the mantis, an electric sting for the scorpion).
Hitbox Dissonance: Barn's scimitar can hit about 1.5 times as far as the sprite suggests.
Orcus on His Throne: The golden Headless Knight in second game, as seen in the opening and whom you actually fight in penultimate battle. Although he's just a Dragon-in-Chief, seemingly.
Lethal Joke Character: Trix the halfling farmer in Revenge of Death Adder. Worst attack and range, but is the only one who can heal, meaning he lasts the longest in fights. As Trix always produces more than enough food for every player to heal once, it meant he could be vital to a team's survival. "Worst attack" is very relative. Although the hits are weaker, he attacks so fast he can easily keep multiple groups of enemies stun-locked. There's a reason Trix is the preferred character for 1-credit runs.
The Man Behind the Man: In the original arcade game, the player simply goes to the castle and beat up Death Adder. In the Genesis version (on the normal difficulty), the player must fight a palette-swapped version of Death Adder known as the Death Bringer after fighting the standard version.
Our Giants Are Bigger: Many of the bosses in the first game are giants, including Death Adder himself. Also, playables include Goah the giant in Revenge of Death Adder and Proud Cragger in 3.
Overtook the Manga: The first of the Mega Drive sequels (Golden Axe II) was made before the actual arcade sequel (Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder).
Palette Swap: The original arcade game featured a set of six enemies (four mooks and two sub-bosses) that are re-used throughout the entire game in different colors. The blue and red dragons, as well as the blue and green thieves, were also palette-swaps of each other.
The Genesis version added even more palette swapped variants of the enemies, including different versions of the final boss Death Adder.
Averted in the Master System, in which every enemy and beast uses the same palette as the player. This actually made the fireball-spitting dragons impossible to tell apart visually from their short-ranged counterparts.
Shields Are Useless: Subverted in first and second game for Knights and Animated Armors, respectively. Because although they can't use it to block your attack, they can use it for...
Shield Bash: They can use this attack if you are too close to them and they're fast enough to react against you before you have a chance to attack them.
Averted for Corvettes in third game, who can actually use their shield to block your attack. In exchange, they can't use their shield for Shield Bash, although it's not much of problem because their combo attack is already pretty painful.
Played straight for Skeletons in first and second game. Averted in third game where they can actually use their shield to block your attack.
Stock Scream: The original arcade game inexplicably uses some screams from various movies for the death cries of the enemy character. From First Blood, they specifically used the one where Rambo stabs Mitch in the leg (when a villager is being tortured by a Longmoan at the beginning of the game), and the ones that Galt lets out as he falls to his death (which became Heninger's death cry).
The main villains in the Mega Drive sequels (Dark Guld and Damned Hellstrike) are obvious stand-ins for Death Adder.
Kain Grinder and Sarah Barn from Golden Axe III are so similar to Ax and Tyris that (thanks to the game's lack of an overseas version until the PS2 compilation) most people mistake them for their predecessors.
Zakkar and Greness, the mooks from Golden Axe II, are often mistaken for Heninger and Longmoan from the original game.
Taken for Granite: The bodies of the dead enemies would turn into rock, in the arcade version.
Theme Naming: The names of the enemy characters in the first game are mostly alcoholic references.
The names of Longmoan and Heninger are mangled references to "Longmorn" (a brand of whiskey) and "Henninger" (a German brewery).
The Zuburoka amazon tribe are named after Żubrówka, a brand of Vodka. Three of the amazons belonging to the tribe (Storchinaya, Strobaya and Lemanaya) are named after other brands of Vodka (Stolichnaya, Stolovaya and Limonnaya respectively), while Guruziya is named after Gruzia (the Russian name for Georgia, the country known for discovering wine).
For the bosses, we have the Bad Brothers (a misspelling of "Bud", as in "Budweiser"), Sgt. Malt & Sgt. Hop, General Heartland (named after a Japanese brand of beer) and the Bitter knights. The PC Engine version has its own names for the bosses in the form of "Biyadaru" (beer barrel) for the hammer-swinging giants and "Heineken" for the armored knights.
Golden Axe III has bosses named after cars (Mustang and Corvette).
We Are as Mayflies: By the time of both Revenge of Death Adder and Golden Axe III, Ax and Tyris have already passed away, leaving a very old dwarven Gillius to guide the next generation of heroes.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In Golden Axe III, certain paths takes you against a Brainwashed and Crazy player character that you didn't select. If you fight them, they're freed and appear in the ending greeting you for return. If not... nothing's known about them.