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Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Golden Axe II

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bill-swift - March 12, 2014

In 1989, the hulking angry-ass barbarian Death Adder was kidnapping royals, flailing his battleax about, and generally being dickish. He was the main antagonist of Golden Axe, the fantasy hack and slash many of us remember so well. Two years later, a sequel arrived, and so did --wait for it, you'll shit-- another barbarian badass in need of a righteous sword-ing to the gonads.

That would be, of course, Golden Axe II. The first was born in arcades, with their floors that smell of pee and miserable proprietors, but not so here. This is a Genesis/Mega Drive original. It's the story of Dark Guld, who has stolen the Golden Ax and formed a huge, remarkably-similar-to-the-first-bunch-of-bastards army to take control of the land. Which is, needless to say, pretty uncool of him. Screw you, Dark Guld.

But fear not, gentlemen. The heroic trio from the original game, Gilius Thunderhead (the dwarf one), Ax Battler (the big-dude-in-speedos-for-no-reason one) and Tyrus Flare (the Amazon-woman-in-a-bikini-with-legs-thicker-than-her-head one) are back. To kick ass, take names and save the rehash-happy developers some more damn work.

If you've any knowledge of the series, you'll know what to expect here. It's a simple sidescrolling beat ‘em up, across a crop of Lord of the Rings-y high fantasy stages. Fiery caverns, castles, all that good stuff. You'll cast elemental magic, ride on bizarre dragon-chicken freaks, and get your swashbuckling swordfighting on. Mostly the latter, there's lots and lots of that.

Trolls! Dog-faced freaks! This is quite the rough neighborhood.

There are no fancy-ass new characters, like that panther dude from the Golden Axe III. The modes are the same, just the main campaign and the Duel option as a kind of survival test. There are a few spangly new visual effects, and the soundtrack is much improved, but the voice samples are as hilariously piss-poor as ever. Beyond that, and the revamped magic system (which now doesn't dumbassily force you to use your whole stock at once), the stench of rehash is strong with this one.

But let's take off our cynical pants. Why the hell shouldn't it be? All Golden Axe fans --it did have them, and still does-- wanted was more of the same, and that's what they were given. Sega may have taken that message a little too literally, but let's not bitch about it too much. After all, this was the last time dwarfish badass Gilius was playable. He was everyone's favorite, no denials or exceptions, and his last game demands respect.

Who in holy hell ever wanted to play as blue speedos dude? Nobody, that's who.

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