In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Golden Axe

aka: Golden Axe Classic
Moby ID: 199
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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 their 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 of 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 original arcade game and most conversions allow players to play up to two characters at once, however in the Sega Master System and C64 versions, this option has not been implemented. The Sega Master System version only has one playable character. Tarik, a close relative to Ax Battler the original barbarian, retelling the story from his perspective. The C64 version allowing only one player at a time, was also limited in other areas, such as fewer levels, only one enemy can engage the player at a time and 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 70 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 331 ratings with 14 reviews)

One of the greatest arcade to home ports ever.

The Good
Classic beat em up action. Excellent graphics and sound for its time. The gameplay is somewhat addictive and the controls on the Genesis version are tighter than the original arcade release. This version also contains an extra stage at the end which is moderately difficult, and the Duel Mode give a little extra added replay value.

The Bad
I guess due to hardware limitations the graphics are not as good as the arcade version, although for a Genesis game they are still great. It also would have been nice if back then you could have more than two players.

The Bottom Line
This is one of the best arcade to console conversions out there. The game it self is a classic and fun to play. The added features of the Genesis version also make it worth your while. This is a MUST have for any Genesis owner or classic console game collector.

Genesis · by Daniel Esquivel (1) · 2009

Milestone in arcade to home ports.

The Good
I can distinctly remember the impact this game had when it came out. Before it was released I had played the arcade game at the theatre and at the local Wal-Mart. I had never been able to play it past the second level due to lack of time. It was a wonderful side-scrolling fighting platform where you could choose a barbarian, a woman, or a dwarf. The Genesis version came out sometime later in 1989.

This game really stands out in my mind as its purchase coincided with earning a brown belt on the same night I bought it in 1989. All of my friends who played it over at my house wanted a SEGA Genesis because of it. This was back when SEGA only allowed higher quality games to be released for its system, a policy dropped in 1991 with the introduction of the SNES. This was a fantastic two player game back in the day.

Surprisingly, the silly looking dwarf was the the most effective character. Though his magic attacks were weaker, if you wanted to beat the game on a quarter or two all you had to do was pick Gilius and master his special moves. This remained the same with the Genesis.

The Genesis version had an additional two or three levels and saw Death Adder taking orders from his pallet-swapped clone: Death Bringer (a character never to be mentioned again in the Golden Axe mythos).

The Genesis game controlled better than the arcade version. Considering the constraints placed upon the designers it was a fantastic accomplishment that truly put an arcade machine in people's homes. Most people could not tell the difference between the Arcade and the Genesis version. However, the Genesis version was inferior graphically due to memory and color pallet limitations (thousands of colors at several megabytes verses 96 colors at 6 megabits*).

1 megabyte = 8 megabits
The Genesis was only supposed to have roughly 64 colors but Sega's inhouse programmers frequently a used technique to get 96 or more.

The Bad*
The only true short coming of this game was that it was incredibly easy. This was especially true if you chose the dwarf and learned how to pull off his rolling attack. The additional levels were not particularly imaginative and merely used the same enemy characters and new, conspicuously bland backgrounds.

Gilius Thunderhead's "Golden Axe" was accidentally colored silver. Although this is not a major flaw, it is a quite an annoying oversight.

The Bottom Line
Golden Axe is a great beat'em up not to be missed. You can either get the cartridge off eBay for a few dollars or you can get it as part of the SEGA Genesis Collection for the PS2. It has a mediocre sequel called Golden Axe II, and a terrible game after that called Golden Axe III. A few other games similar to this are The King of Dragons for the SNES and the Dungeons & Dragons Collection for the Saturn (Japan only).

Genesis · by Majestic Lizard (670) · 2007

A good visual conversion of flawed gameplay.

The Good
The graphics in the PC conversion of Golden Axe are very good; if you were to pipe the output of your VGA onto a television, they're indistinguishable from the Sega Genesis version.

The Bad
First and foremost, the PC version is damn near impossible to complete without continuing. After an hour of gameplay, I would have hoped that the game got easier to master. It doesn't. After 30 minutes of getting repeatedly kicked into unconciousness less than a second after getting up, I was ready to smash the screen. The original arcade game was easier than this!

There are other problems that bother me a bit: There are entire sections of land missing in the PC version. Since the game is disk-based, it would not have been a big deal to include them. And while the CGA graphics run on almost any platform (8mHz and higher), the EGA graphics really require a 286 and the VGA graphics require a 386 to run smoothly.

The Bottom Line
If you liked the arcade game and don't have access to a Sega Genesis or arcade emulator, the PC version will satisfy your Golden Axe cravings. But if you haven't played the arcade game and aren't familiar with it's style of gameplay, look somewhere else for a side-scrolling fighting game.

DOS · by Trixter (8954) · 1999

[ View all 14 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Control layout 1xWertzui (1135) Jun 1, 2024
Canada? Edwin Drost (9725) Mar 31, 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! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

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. iPad, iPhone added by Sciere. Linux, Windows, 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. Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 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 10, 1999. Last modified June 21, 2024.