August 13, 2008 - The dusty arcade cabinet sat in the dank and gloomy corridor just outside the local Ames (a now defunct chain of discount stores) with two alluring words printed on its side: Golden Axe. Like the call of a siren, it sweetly sung to me and my pocket full of quarters... "Play me."
For only four short levels of brawling through waves of beefy thugs, skeletons, dragon riders, dark knights, and giant bondage guys with big hammers, Golden Axe contained just enough medieval hack-and-slashery to temporarily allay my desire to shop any time I had occasion to approach the storefront. It was a tough choice between playing as the ripped barbarian (who's mother was killed by Death Adder), the saucy amazon (who's mother AND father were killed by Death Adder), or the burly dwarf (who's brother was killed by Death Adder). In the end, they go after the axe-wielding psycho because he's captured the king and princess. Go figure.
Humorously enough, the game stands out in memory for its flagrant gnomish abuse. The poor little fellows were only trying to run around with their sacks of meat and potions. Their diminutive yelps cut the air each time you kicked them, bashed them with a sword, or blasted them with magic to get at their precious cargo. They exacted revenge by robbing you blind in between levels.
With the proper skill, the game was short enough to be completed with a few quarters. The chaotic confrontation with Death Adder was made even more magnificent by the way you enact his demise. The final blow knocks him to the ground and sends his giant axe spinning upward end-over-end. It lands blade-first into his chest, producing a small but clearly defined fountain of blood. The bonus ending - depicting all of the game's creatures jumping out of the arcade cabinet and chasing the player through the human realm - was an ample reward.
CCC Staff Contributor / Pixel Artist