Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Golden Age of Beat'em Ups
Golden Axe initially came out as an arcade machine in 1989, but was quickly ported to the then new launched Sega Genesis (also known as the Sega Mega Drive). The home console version boasted two additional levels, but oddly enough lacked some of the polish and flare of the original arcade version. For example the eyes of the gigantic turtle and bird, that help by conveying the player(s) on their backs from one area to another, don't animate giving the impression that they are lifeless entities rather than semi-divine forces of nature. The corpses of slain enemies also quickly vanish in the Genesis version, whereas in the arcade they remain but take on a earthly brown hue. The final boss gets a more interesting intro in the arcade version of the game as well; snakes slither into a pile of corpses then coalesce into a supernatural executioner rather than simply having him barge through a door at the top of the screen.
There were a few other entries in the Golden Axe series, including a one-on-one fighting game and a pair of Zelda-style adventure games. Much later the licence would be contracted out by Sega to a third-party developer resulting in Golden Axe: Beast Rider. Suffice it to say, the game was not good. I will return to it at a later date, but next I want to talk about another Sega beat'em up series with a more contemporary setting.