Golden Axe (1)

Genre: Beat ’em Up
Year: 1992
Developed by: Sega
Published by: Sega
Platforms: Arcade
Feeling Like: The Golden Girls Boys

When you’re ten years old, the authority is everything. Don’t be late for school. Don’t talk in class. You might get a detention, or worse, your parents might get called. Your world is so small that any threat becomes a hugely important matter. Every reward and penalty is heightened.

I only played Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder once and that was all that was needed for it to lay claim to spot 436. It taught me that with the proper motivation, and the appropriate amount of currency, you can do anything. Like beat a four player quarter eating, co-operative beat em up when the entire staff of the BC Ferries is yelling at you over the loudspeaker to RETURN TO YOUR VEHICLES AS THE FERRY IS DOCKING.

In a moment of adolescent defiance, myself and three others felt that we had more than enough time when we started up a game. Our goal wasn’t necessarily to beat it; we’d already spent at least 40 minutes at the White Spot cafeteria. After a long soccer tournament and our appetites temporarily satiated, we looked to entertainment to kill time. Golden Axe it was.

The characters are great, among the coolest lineup I’ve seen in an old school beat ’em up. Ignoring generic Barbarian dude, you’ve got a female centaur (Centauride!), a little dwarf dude riding a big dude, and a little pitchfork carrying shit who looks stupid until he raises apple trees to heal you and then he switches to your favorite thing in the game.

Each have their own magic ability, but the dwarf/giant combo is a step above. A giant, pissed off skull emerges from the top of the screen, sprouting too much hair for a skull. It then breathes smoke onto the screen, turning all enemies into stone. It’s ripped straight out of the most metal 80’s album cover and kicks so much ass that we tried to use it whenever possible.

Enemies are pretty generic, but Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder throws in a trick or two to keep it fresh. The absolute peak of enjoyment is the ability to ride a giant scorpion or praying mantis. The former stings with electricity and the latter breathes fire. I don’t care if it doesn’t make sense, that’s just ridiculously awesome and led to more than a few internal fights about who got to ride the nonsensical mythical insect/arachnid.

As our hands and fingers were getting sore and fewer people populated the arcade, we knew we were nearing the end. The music seemed more intense and every death was met with an exclamation of frustration, only for the dead to resurrect as quickly as one could find another quarter.

“A reminder, please head down to the vehicle deck…”

Talk about pressure. We have fellow teammates finally abandoning their viewing to ensure the wrath of our head coach would be avoided. But we all knew there was no going back. We just reached Death Adder. Surely if we pounded the buttons with all our might, we could take him down before getting into any more trouble.

It wasn’t that easy. Death Adder is an asshole; the golden face on his shield eats your magic when you try to use it and his attacks come swiftly. He struts around like he owns the place. He has two forms, which normally pisses me off, but the delight in knowingly extending my boundaries and giving the proverbial middle figure to “the man” made it impossible not to stay. It helped that all of us were screaming and that we found out that if we all attacked at the same time, we engaged in a four player, simultaneous spinning pile driver, a la Zangief. Phenomenal.

As the little dwarf dude jumped on Death Adder’s shoulders to strike the final blow to his skull with his axe (not golden?) we sprinted down to the bus. I only just saw the end screen a few moments ago when I looked it up on Youtube. Didn’t miss much, just the four characters looking out on the sky while riding the back of a gigantic dragon. Did I mention you fight Death Adder on the back of a huge dragon? No wonder this game is higher up than 63 other games on the 500.

Golden Axe (2)
Ah, there it is!

We ignored all the fellow students, angry that they chose to obey the rules and we hadn’t. Where were you guys, and didn’t we hear the announcements? The coaches merely shook their heads and didn’t say anything. Cars were revving engines and honking at our bus. Big deal. We had crushed Death Adder as a team, under high pressure stakes and a silent pact that any consequences were worth it.

I learned later that anticipation of punishment is usually far worse than the punishment itself; all we got was a quick word from the teacher chaperone saying don’t do it again. Don’t do it again? That’s it? What were we so worried about?

437 Tiny Toon Adventures                                                                         435 Yoshi’s Island DS