The fourth part of Sega Vintage Collection is Golden Axe, one of the more popular classics, the collection comes with Golden Axe (Arcade Port), Golden Axe II and Golden Axe III, so you have all the classic Golden Axe games in a single collection.
The Golden Axe series is based in old times where the only way to survive was to be a warrior, a select number of warriors come forth and decide to defeat the evil that has overtaken their lands and protect the innocents, during their quest they come across a variety of enemies and their quest lasts the entire three games, so it is best to play them in order if you wish to play for story, the games themselves are similar to how Streets of Rage is played, so if you like that series, you may like this series too.
The audio from each of the games suit the theme that is going on, it has one of those memorable themes that you would know is Golden Axe, along with that sound effects have been placed where they were needed, such as innocents running and screaming, sword fighting and anything else there is needed to make the game sound realistic, so the audio is pretty good, you won’t want to mute your TV ever.
The graphics are very good, even know it’s a very early title, thankfully for the first game we get the Arcade Port, which from playing it, I found the graphics looked better than the Mega Drive/CD version, there is just extra detail in the pixel art that I never noticed before in it, and throughout the games, the graphics just get better, including the backgrounds, one of my favorites is the one where you see this massive eagle that is carrying an island on it’s back, although it does suffer from the classic game enemy usage where they basically swap out some colors of the enemies and class them as a new one, even know they’re just the same as the first ones, just with extra health added, other than that, they’re really good graphics and was one of the best looking games back in its days, if you’re a fan of pixel art, these games will definitely impress.
You also have the option to use full screen and smoothing, but you may want to avoid using the smoothing option as it just loses a lot of the detail, I used the Manual option with no background and felt like I got the best out of the games that way.
The story starts off with three individuals having family members took from them by Death Adder, who has kidnapped the royal family of Golden Axe, these three individuals decide to put a stop to this and go on an adventure to defeat Death Adder and make their land peaceful again.
The story continues on in the rest of the games, adding new characters and new enemies, it is similar to most classic game’s stories, they are a bit vague, I would say Golden Axe III offers the best story in the series, you have different paths to take and it is the longest of the series.
The gameplay is hack n’ slash, you go from level to level defeating piles of enemies and sometimes bosses, you have so many characters to choose from, they play similar enough, but it’s their magic that counts, playing as Tyris, you can eventually summon a dragon to clear the screen of enemies, while she is best at magic, Gilius (the dwarf), is best at melee combat, then there is the Ax Battler, who is probably balanced but he would be most people’s last choice in playing.
During the stages of all the games, you can find a variety of different creatures to mount, that gives your characters advantages against the enemies with much more powerful attacks, you can remain on these creatures for as long as the stage so long as you aren’t knocked off too much.
The games have a clever feature in gameplay where if you play on Easy difficulty (only available on the first game and second), it will only let you progress so far and say something like “You’ve done good so far, but to save the world, you must play on Normal or higher difficulty”, even with this though, the games aren’t very long, Golden Axe III is probably the longest with the different paths you can take, overall, they won’t take you very long to complete and they aren’t even that hard really, they are easily possible to complete without using the newly added Save feature which allows you to save anywhere making them easier.
Overall, it’s a very good series of games that come in this collection, nothing randomly placed, it’s all of the same series, so by getting this collection, you will have all of the original Golden Axe games that made it to console, they all have made previous appearances on collections though, they are all available on Sega Mega Ultimate Collection, but it is a good set for people who are just looking for the Golden Axe games, it will last you about over five hours if going for the achievements, if not, you’re maybe only looking at two hours of gameplay here, it depends how you play, if you want to get good at the games and get the best rankings at the end, then that’s up to you.