Golden Axe

aka: Golden Axe Classic
Moby ID: 199

Description official descriptions

Golden Axe is an arcade beat-'em-up game that puts players in the shoes of one of three heroes, each with his own reason for trying to overthrow the evil rule of Death-Adder, who - along with his forces of darkness - kidnapped and imprisoned the King and his daughter and stole the legendary Golden Axe.

This is a horizontal fighting game, where you basically take one of the three characters (the barbarian Ax Battler, a dwarf named Gilius Thunderhead or the amazon Tyris Flare) and bash everything which stands between you and Death Adder himself. Each character has a special magical ability that can be charged by kicking small blue creatures that drop a potion. There is also a green variety off this creature that drops food that replenishes your health. Some enemies ride dragons and a scorpion like creature. The enemies can be knocked off and you can mount the creature yourself and attack the enemies with it.

The game allows to play up to two players on a same screen, however in the C64 version this option has not been implemented. C64 version was also stripped off in the other areas, such as: only one enemy can engage the player at a time or there are only two types of dragons instead of three.


  • 战斧 - Chinese spelling (simplified)
  • 戦斧 - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Arcade version)

4 People

Designed by
Music Composer (uncredited)
"Wilderness" (first stage music (uncredited))



Average score: 76% (based on 68 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 324 ratings with 13 reviews)


The Good
Yet another review-wannabe thing of this!? Of course, because it is GOLDEN FRIGGIN' AXE!

The MS-DOS PC version might be a little bit thin compared to the arcade game, but I didn't know that when I was a kid. It was one of the first games I got more into and eventually have beaten it. It is regarded by most DOS-age gamers as one of the best hack 'n slash action games. I don't want to describe the playing mechanics here, I'm too lazy. But who doesn't know it anyway? Oh yeah, and it has the advantage over the arcade original that it has plus two more levels from the Genesis/Megadrive port.

Beside the "story" there is a Duel mode, where you have to face a small group of enemies in each turn in an arena. It gets harder and harder, but after the last turn nothing particular happens, just a usual rating and then back to the main menu. First I had a buggy version which after a certain duel turn wanted me to insert disk 2 (even when the whole game was on hard drive), and it kept me excited what happens after that. There is even a little practice mode, which is like the main "story" mode but easier and only lasts up to the 3rd level.

There is three characters to choose from when starting a new game. I always pick the dwarf, "Gilius Thunderhead", he was simply the strongest with his axe, even when his thunder magic was the weakest of the three. There was a glitch that changed the colors on him on each level (but I only noticed that when I connected a color monitor to the computer, because originally it had a tiny monochrome SVGA display) Once I even manged to get the maximal A+++ rating at the end. The amazon, Tyris Flare looks soo sexy and she can summon a giant fire breathing dragon! (haha, her bikini and pantie wear isn't a little bit too leisure for a medieval setting?). And there was that barbarian guy... I don't think I have gotten past even the second level with him. The magic system in the DOS version was simplified as I see now.

On the keyboard, Keypad 5 was the weapon attack, Right Shift was the magic charge, at least for player one. There was even a mouse control feature... it was VERY awkward XD

The graphics looks good by 16-bit standards (I am talking about VGA mode of course). It does not use 256 colors, more like 16, or maybe 64 because the gfx was directly converted from the Genesis/Megadrive version.

To me, the most memorable feature of the game is the PC speaker music and sound effects. I had no sound card back then in my 386 PC and the game still delivered polyphonic music via fast arpeggio beeping, and violent death screams via PCM digitized sounds, all that during gameplay. The mild music with the Adlib is nothing compared to that. The beeper was raw, wild, and LOUD, ear raping awesomeness. The buzzing metallic case created a harmonic bass together with the music. I liked the game called "The Cycles" from Accolade too because of this. PC beeper music lacked percussion, but I didn't realized it until quite recently. The crunchy digi sound effects interrupted the music, but it was not all that disturbing. All these sounded on each computer a little bit differently. The tiny internal piezzo speakers and emulators nowadays can't do justice to that. Yeah, this is the feature of the game that definitely aged much,

On some places where are pits the enemies can be pushed into then, making that part easier.

There is two player mode in both story and duel modes. Me and my friend always argued over the dwarf because we both wanted to play as him, but it was not possible. Also, we could hit each other in story mode too, so the cooperation easily turned into a deathmatch. We never got to the giant eagle in 2 player mode.

I once discovered that each sprites are stored in different files, so with renaming those files you can play as the enemies, haha! It was really buggy although. I scammed my friend with this: on the start of a 2 player game he picked the dwarf and I picked the barbarian. That moment when he realized that the barbarian is Death Adder himself...

My friend liked to make fun of the sound effect when the skeletons rise from the floor, because it sounded like farting.

When running the game with memory hog resident programs, the lesser the memory was, the more features were stripped away. First, no two player mode, then the enemies were all the same. I managed to run it with so little memory that even the magic attacks didn't work.

The Bad
Even with the plus levels, it was too short :)

Jumping over the wider pits... first it was a nightmare before I discovered the headbutting jump attack.

I think they should have implemented a save-able highscore feature in the PC version, because the rating screen was directly lifted from the console versions.

Occasionally, the midgets that held the power-ups, got stuck in the wall, and the game didn't let you further until they were gone, so it had to be restarted. Earlier I didn't even notice that with pressing Esc you can return to the main menu, so I restarted the computer.

It also lack many animations and small details compared to the Genesis/Megadrive and arcade versions. Like the little arrow on the speech bubbles that shows which character is talking, the floating feathers on the giant eagle level, the pen on the map screens, etc. Death Adder also lacks the underground fireball attacks so he is much easier to defeat.

The Bottom Line
Simple. Easy to get into. Addicting. Even if it didn't age well as a hack n' slash, it is still a very fun arcade action game. If you are new to it, I recommend you to look at the Arcade or Sega Genesis/Megadrive versions, or a remake, there must be one out somewhere.

DOS · by 1xWertzui (1135) · 2013

Passe Classic--Skip it

The Good
It was a really good game when it came out. I had fun playing it.

The Bad
Nothing I can remember.

The Bottom Line
One of the first good games of its genre, but below average compared to today's standards. I would play the more recent titles from AD&D before going to this one. But if you do it in "reverse chronological order," I think you would also agree to just take a pass at Golden Axe. Put simply, Golden Axe couldn't hold a candle to games in the same genre today.

DOS · by Yeah Right (50) · 2000

The king of a dead genre

The Good
The first time I caught a glimpse of Golden Axe was in an Arcade somewhere in France. I was really impressed by the marvelous graphics. On the PC the game still looked pretty marvelous, but unfortunately not on my PC (I had a 286 at the time). But Golden Axe’s graphics are among the best (maybe even the best) of it’s time. I like the creativity of the designers: the island that is a giant turtle, the huge eagle. The design of those stages is extremely well done. Moreover the magical spells are a joy to watch. The graphics are Golden Axe’s best feature. But there are some other things to like about Golden Axe.

  • Great sound effects & midi music. I can still hum some of those tunes.
  • You can knock enemy soldiers off their dragons and ride the dragons yourself.
  • It has a two-player cooperative mode, there nothing more fun than beating up some bad guys together.
  • It has a nice story twist. At a certain moment you think you have won the game but the toughest part is yet to come.

The Bad

  • It’s not complete! The intro and the cool ending that MAT is talking about are not included in the PC port.
  • The controls feel a little stiff.
  • Gilius is a lot better than the other two heroes because of the broad range of his axe (combined with his jump-attack). Not only would this cause arguments about who would get to play with Gilius, it also meant you virtually had to play with Gilius in order to win. I could beat the game easily when I played with Gilius but never succeeded with one of the others.
  • The “Duel” mode is lame and very difficult to complete.

The Bottom Line
A side scrolling beat ‘em up best remembered for it’s great graphics. Of course even great graphics look dated after a couple of years. In fact the whole side scrolling beat ‘em up genre is rather dated. Games like this one don’t get released anymore. In the early 90’s they were released in truckloads. Nowadays I find games like Final Fight, Double Dragon and Streets of Rage rather boring, but I still enjoy playing Golden Axe.

DOS · by Roedie (5221) · 2001

[ View all 13 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Canada? Edwin Drost (7634) Mar 31st, 2017


German index

On May 30, 1992, Golden Axe was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed games.

Since August 31, 2005, the game is no longer on the index.


The Chicken Stinger is a creature you fight in the second stage of Altered Beast. This creature later showed up in Golden Axe as one of the Bizarrians that you can steal from the enemies in the game (it's now called a Chicken-Leg). The Chicken-Leg also showed up later in the arcade game Golden Axe: The Revenge Of Death Adder.


The death screams of the bad guys are digitized from screams used in the films First Blood (several) and one from Conan The Barbarian. Fans of the game who watch the movies will be able to pick these out easily.


  • Amiga Power
    • May 1991 (issue #00) - #96 in the "All Time Top 100 Amiga Games"
  • EMAP Image's Golden Joystick 1991
    • April 1991: Best coin-op conversion - 16 Bit
  • FLUX
    • Issue #4 - #70 in the "Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list

Information also contributed by Big John WV, mark abrams, Tiago Jacques and Xoleras

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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Wii added by Corn Popper. Android added by GTramp. SEGA Master System, Atari ST added by PCGamer77. PlayStation 3 added by Lain Crowley. Arcade added by 666gonzo666. Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. TurboGrafx CD added by chirinea. iPhone, iPad added by Sciere. Windows, Linux, Macintosh added by Foxhack. WonderSwan Color added by Kabushi. ZX Spectrum added by Martin Smith. Genesis added by Satoshi Kunsai. Xbox 360 added by Ben K. Xbox One added by MAT. Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Amiga added by Katakis | カタキス.

Additional contributors: Roedie, Unicorn Lynx, Alaka, Pseudo_Intellectual, masterthiefster, Hong Sik Jeon, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, GTramp, Jo ST.

Game added August 10th, 1999. Last modified August 17th, 2023.