A travesty of the original.
One of the best soundtracks I've ever come across on the C64. The tunes here really do have atmosphere. The graphics are good for an 8-bit machine, and the characters look like the ones in the arcade version (albiet smaller).
Let's be honest, it was mainly the graphics and music which made the 16-bit versions of Golden Axe playable. Without those, the raggedness of the gameplay is clear for all to see. Added to that is the problem that only one enemy is on the screen at a time, and that there's only one type of enemy and one type of boss in each level (though as they all behave in identical fashion, I don't suppose it makes any difference). What you have to do, as one of the three heroes, is wait for a baddie to come on the screen, walk up to him and press the 'attack' button until he falls over. Repeat this until he dies. Then another identical baddie will appear. Then another. After you've dealt with several of these villains, an arrow will instruct you to move a bit further along the level until another bad dude appears. Then you must repeat the procedure of killing the naughty folk who come onto the screen, one by one. I think the challenge must be to see if you can reach the end before you die of boredom. Quite often, as you're slashing away with your sword or axe, the baddie you're fighting will suddenly start hitting you back. Your character will then fall over and lose some energy. There isn't really anything you can do to stop this happening. You just have to hack away and hope for the best.
The original batch of C64 Golden Axe tapes apparently had the last two levels missing. Frankly I wouldn't have noticed. Backgrounds apart, they're all identical.
The Bottom Line
As with the arcade version, the evil Death Adder has filled the land with his villainous minions. So it's up to you, as one of three heroic figures, to make your way through several levels of hack-em-up medieval horizontally-scrolling fighting action. The characters all have some personal grudge against Death Adder. He pulled the arm off Ax Battler's teddy as a child, hid a spider in Tyris's pencil case and blew a raspberry at Gillius Thunderhead. Or something like that. Anyway, during the level you will sometimes come across little figures with bags containing either food or magic. The food replaces lost energy, whilst the magic can be used to destroy or injure enemies. The more magic pots you have, the more powerful your magic. In Tyris's case, possession off a full magic bar will allow you to summon a dragon to incinerate foes. Enemies include knights, club-wielding brutes and even skeletons.