Golden Axe: Beast Rider
Forget everything you knew about Golden Axe. Forget that you played it with your friend or your brother and try not to remember the fun you experienced with it. Forget that it was an enjoyable game and erase the memory of what Golden Axe once was. There’s no room for nostalgic feelings here, because it has nothing to do with the past. Sega unwillingly puts an end to the once so successful franchise and shoots the already half dead series right between the eyes.
The last decent Golden Axe dates back to the early 90′s so one might argue Sega is pretty persistent when it comes to sustaining old glory, mostly without success. Golden Axe holds a lot of precious memories for a lot of gamers, so it’s really sad that Sega can’t seem to get a grip on renewing their old hack ‘n slash smash hit. It doesn’t take an expert to notice Golden Axe: Beast Rider is yet again a mixture of bad ideas and half baked delusions.
Golden Axe was most legendary for its multiplayer fun. Slashing monsters and foul beasts with some friends from long ago was classic enjoyment. But nostalgia is for old people and nerds so Sega decided to drop that aspect of the game to focus solely on the singleplayer mode. You gotta give it to them… dropping the one thing that made the game popular in the first place takes courage. Courage and a demented brain, but hey, nobody would care if the singleplayer was top notch, would they? Well, it’s anything but that as you may have assumed while lurking at the score.
Beast Rider doesn’t give you the opportunity to choose your warrior, so forget about the dwarf and the pompous barbarian. Say hello to the big breasted warrior whose battle cry sounds a bit like those of a bearded supervillain. She certainly looks great (you know, with the knockers and such), but the knockers say it all, because there’s not much depth or anything else to sympathise with your character (no depth in the knockers?, ed.).
The big breasted lady that shines on the box of the game wields a big sword and it doesn’t take long before she is granted the legendary ‘Golden Axe’. The same Golden Axe from the title seems to have seen better days, because you can’t really slash enemies with it. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? No, in Golden Axe, axes are meant to be thrown to statues, which then open closed doors. When you try to throw them at enemies, you will soon know that this is both stupid (it doesn’t affect the monsters much) and frustrating (aiming is a bitch).
So what about that mysterious ‘Beast Rider’ in the title of the game? Well, while slashing trough thousands of dumb enemies you will eventually come across some strange looking beasts, which you can use to travel across the landscapes with. You can even use them to participate in fights, which then again, isn’t very wise. First, it takes a couple of seconds to turn them around. Second, they die almost instantly when riding them, they even loose health when using their special attacks and we can all agree that’s some fake shit.. There’s a reason that they look like extinct animals.
The controls are mostly divided into two parts. You use L1 and R1 to block and evade attacks. This works fine when you’re fighting one on one, but when they start attacking you in groups you can just forget about evading or blocking as it takes too much time to do so. To make matters worse, enemies have no problem attacking you in the back or using magic from a distance. It’s fairly frustrating to die from a magic blast you couldn’t possibly see or evade. That lame shit might be acceptable in the 80s but nobody should suffer needlessly twenty years later. It’s not about me bitching about Golden Axe being hard, it’s just me bitching about the bad programming from the creators of this abomination.
Sega uses two very interesting colours to create the world of Golden Axe, being grey and brown. But because the abundance of irritating, frustrating and worse than bad gameplay decisions, it’s easy to forget about the dated graphics and environments that lack every form of inspiration. We’re more unforgiving about the frequent stutters on the screen (even when you’re just walking without anything happening), not to mention the strange lines that appear on the tv every now and then as if you’re watching an old VHS. The soundtrack seems to come from the fictive album ‘Jungle Sounds and conga music for beginners’. There are hardly any conversations, which we applaud. God knows how awful they would be?
What did we learn after playing Golden Axe: Beast Rider for a couple of hours (more would be dangerous). Well we could have guessed Beast Rider wasn’t going to be a must buy, but we never expected it to be this bad. I thought Sega still stood for a decent amount of quality, yet we stand corrected upon playing this lackluster game. Only enjoyable if you just spent 20 years playing E.T on the Atari. Only buy it if you really want to hurt somebody you don’t like. You will never hear anything from him or her, we can assure it.