Golden Axe: The Curse of Death Adder
The Golden Axe series is one of my favorite video game franchises of all time. Despite my love of Nintendo growing up, this Sega classic store many quarters from me in the glory days when arcades were spotted all over the U.S. inside shopping malls and at skating rinks. The only Golden Axe game not to receive a home port, The Revenge of Death Adder, was by far my favorite game. I know it's available via MAME, but oh how I wish it had been ported over to one of the many home video game consoles.
While I may not be able to play Revenge of Death Adder, how about The Curse of Death Adder? Never heard of it? Me neither until about a year ago. While doing some research on Senile Team's Beats of Rage, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of side scrolling beat 'em up and hack 'n slash type games. One of which was this "new" Golden Axe game. I purchased this from an Etsy seller for about $15. I'm sure there are people reading this that are already rolling their eyes and thinking how I wasted my money. We aren't here to debate that. We are here to look at the game itself.
Let me start off by saying I believe I have an early version of this game. I say that because during my own research about how this game came to be made, I've noticed there are 2.0 and 3.0 versions of the game that can be downloaded. The screenshots for these games look more polished and appears to offer more than one playable character.
Now that is out of the way, it appears the story for Curse takes place after the events of Revenge of Death Adder. I didn't expect a backstory, let alone for it to be told once I booted up the game.
The title screen offers a few options for you to chose from. The Movie Option is set to "disabled", but it doesn't appear that you can change this setting. 'Options' takes you to a screen where you can alter some of the audio and video settings. 'How to Play' gives you a basic tutorial of how to control your character. 'Hall of Fame' is basically your high scores.
One you choose 'Start Game', you get to chose from Story, Beginner or Battle. From what I can tell, Story and Beginner is the same game, but Beginner mode seems to deal out a little more damage to enemies and you take less damage.
On the Select Player screen you have one option, Stern. The Ax Battler wanna be from Revenge of Death Adder. This is another reason why I think I've got an early version of this game. Once you've made up your mind of the character you want to use (!) the game pauses for a quick second to load the game.
The Story mode starts you out with 3 lives and 4 credits/continues. You can control your character with the d-pad or the analog stick. The A button attack while the B button makes your character jump. No longer can you do a more powerful attack by pressing the attack and jump buttons at the same time. Now you just have to do a quick double tap on the d-pad in the direction you want to attack. In Stern's case, this causes you to do a uppercut swipe of your sword. If you can make contact, this attack deals some good damage. Thankfully the classic Golden Axe yells and screams are present when the enemies are attacked. You even get some red blood spurting when you attack enemies (including roadblocks and treasure chests?).
The Y button summons your magic, but even this has been changed from what you may be familar with. You don't have a magic gauge this time around, so don't expect to level up your magic. I believe you can carry more than one vial at a time, but the earth magic is basically worthless. It's not a screen clearing attack anymore, in fact the little geysers Stern summons can actually miss the enemies if they aren't in the right place on screen! At times it'll help you get out of a pinch you may find yourself in, but for the most part I forgot I even had magic.
You immediately start out in a familiar area. Do the guard sprites ring any bells? Any Capcom bells? Yes, the enemies you'll encounter in the first episode have been lifted from Capcom's awesome game, Knights of the Round. I'm pretty sure the foreground as well as those barricades are from KotR as well. You know what, I'm OK with that because it just gives the game a varied, but familiar feel.
Some of the more traditional Golden Axe enemies are included in the game, even some of the beasts. Sadly you are not able to ride these beasts. When you attack them, they have what I think is a new animation where the beast falls back with it's rider. I guess it was asking too much to be able to ride some of these classic Golden Axe beasts.
The game is broken up into different episodes and the first episode is quite long. What I thought was the final boss with these two Green Man enemies turned out to just be an early mid-boss. I was expecting the next scene to open up to a campfire with the little gnomes running around that yield magic vials or food when attacked. Nope, you just move onto the next area.
This area looks really familar, but I can't tell if it was lifted from Knights of the Round or another game. I do know that the large armored villian on the horse as well as the knight in the bottom picture can be a royal pain in the butt to defeat. One thing I noticed is that your attack has a rather short range and some of your enemies have larger swords, staffs or axes they attack with. This means that attacking them head on, being on the same plane, wield lots of damage...to you! I found that if I attacked them from a plane just above or below them while pressing in their direction would let me score some hits without having to worried about being carved up. Of course this strategy doesn't always work and there are times there are so many enemies on the screen you'll likely take some hits.
Once I finally made it past the first episode, you're taken to what the game calls the Wastelands for the 2nd episode. You are immediately greeted by skeletons...great. However these aren't the skeletons from Golden Axe, these are from yet another Capcom game: Dungeons & Dragons. I'm "happy" to say that these skeletons are just as much a pain in the butt as the skeletons from Golden Axe. At least these move a tad slower and don't jump around as much.
I was also greeted by another new enemy in the Wastelands, an ogre. I don't recoginize this character sprite, but I assume he was lifted from another game as well. If you know what game the ogre is from please leave a comment below.
While playing the game and collecting pictures for this post you can see I'd pause the game to snap a picture. One more than one occassion I accidentally moved the curser from Continue to End Game. I was at the end of the 3rd episode, potentially near the end of the game and I accidentally ended my game. I was too tired to start over, but hey, at least I didn't spoil much more of the game for you!
I did decide to check out the Duel option however before I called it quits for the night. I was hoping it wasn't a one on one fighting game like Golden Axe: The Duel.
This mode pits you against waves of enemies, one battle at a time. There are 15 battles I think before you get to the end. Sometime happened to my game when it was loading the 15th battle so I'm a little in the dark here. This was on the only glitch I experienced while playing the game and I've put several hours into it.
I know there are some people that frown on this time of game, but I for one found it to interesting and a lot of fun. I grew up playing beat 'em ups and hack 'n slash games like this and with today's modern gaming scene it's not often we get games like this anymore. Did I overpay for the game? Probably, considering it's a free download...however I'm not well versed in downloading and burning games like this. I can't say I'd buy many more of these type of games, but being the Golden Axe fan that I am I had to quench my curiosity and give this game a try. Download it or pick up a physical copy if you like this genre.