Golden Axe III

Moby ID: 8738
Genesis Specs
Buy on Windows
$0.99 new on Steam

Description official descriptions

Golden Axe III is like its predecessors a beat 'em-up game that puts players in the shoes of a hero out to save the land from evil. This time Damud Hellbringer, the 'Prince of Darkness', has taken away the Golden Axe and put an evil curse over all the warriors of the land. However, one of the heroes has their curse relieved and is sent to set things straight and lift the curse off other warriors, defeat the villains and return with the Golden Axe.

The barbarian and amazon of the first two parts remain although receiving new names (Kain Grinder and Sahra Burn). The two new characters introduced are the panther warrior Chronos Raid and Proud Cragger the giant. Gilius Thunderhead the dwarf gives you instructions, but is not playable. The gameplay has been expanded slightly, but is essentially the same hack 'n' slash as in the previous games. New features to the series include junction points where you can choose which path to take. Like in the first Golden Axe, you get magic potions and health power-ups by kicking gnomes during the occasional intermission. Every character has unique magic spells, but they function in the same way: the power and the damage of the spell increase with the number of potions available (and you can't choose a weaker one if you want to spare more potions for later). New moves include blocks, grapples, sweeps and team attacks.

Spellings

  • ゴールデンアックスⅢ - Japanese spelling
  • 战斧3 - Chinese spelling (simplified)

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Credits (Genesis version)

25 People (21 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

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Character Design
Background Design
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Sound Program
Music and Sound Effect
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Special Thanks
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 61% (based on 16 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 48 ratings with 5 reviews)

Sometimes, more is not better but just more

The Good
Golden Axe has been a staple in my childhood ever since the first game came out it has been a part of my gaming experience that I till this day still enjoy. (I estimate that at least once a year, I boot up the game and play through it in it's entirety)

Golden Axe III, in my opinion, comes from a very good pedigree and in this case they've tried to build ontop of game play established from before. All of this shows as you can see the action sequences are well paced, the difficulty ramp up is well controlled, the disbursement of things like magic potions and such are all well placed, and in general you can see that the dev team has learned from their previous experience in how to parse out content to the player.

they've also made an attempt to make it more cooperative too, which is nice. (This comes in the form of having dual casting)

In addition to that, they've tried to expand the movesets for all the characters in order to make them more diverse, probably in response to games like Streets of Rage starting to add more moves to their cast. More on this later.

Also, they've given stage branches so that you can now choose which path you want to take, and the path themselves can effect the gaming experience, which increases the replay value.

The Bad
The problem here, is that while the core gameplay is rock solid, the additional things they've added do not all work. Don't get me wrong, it's still immensely enjoyable WITHOUT these added features, but there in lies the problem... if the added feature means so little to the game play experience, then it leads to the question what is the point of the addition in the first place.

this is painfully apparent with the dual casting system, which is fun and novel, but ultimately kind of empty because it's actually not all THAT useful.

The same can be said of the special moves. Some of them are near useless (i.e. The caveman's tornado move) while others are game breaking (the panther's pounce) simply because enemies don't block it.

So while the actual parsing of material is well paced, the fighting mechanics in between is just not as tight as the older games.

I have done entire runs on the game using nothing but the jumping down+B move, because the computer will NEVER block it if you can time the jump the right.

From things like this, it becomes abundantly clear that the some of the moves were added later without making the appropriate AI adjustments for it.

Ultimately, I feel the whole product is weaker for it. In Golden Axe II, each characterwill respond to the different moves in a slightly divergent manner. The difference in hitboxes and attack speed further differentiates this difference in AI even further.

To be fair, this is probably the teams first attempt at handling characters who are wildly different from one another. In GA2, all the characters have minor differences like speed and strength but for the most part play identical to one another. So much so that the winning strategy for one works for the entire cast. But when you compare this side by side to games like Streets of Rage 2, where all the characters are controlled the same way but are played wildly different from one another, they just pale by comparison.

The Bottom Line
A Conan the Barbarian style beat 'em up that inherits it's core from an impressive pedigree (and thus having a fairly solid core) but ultimately a mediocre experiment when it comes to working with diversity.

Genesis · by Elliott Wu (40) · 2010

The Best Of The Series.

The Good
Golden Axe III, takes elements of the first two Golden Axe games. All the while introducing new concepts to the series. Making the third installment of Sega’s hack n slash the best.

In Golden Axe III, the heroes have been cursed, after breaking free of the curse, one or two, in two player mode. Golden Axe warriors must save the others including two new fighters. You battle across the land in order to once more claim the Golden Axe, and save the land from evil.

Two new warriors are not the only new entry to the series. There are points were the player must choose a path to travel, certain paths may be harder, and make the game longer. This is an interesting feature, and adds replay value, as you explore all the various paths.

The Graphics in Golden Axe III are easily the best in the franchise. Fighter are large detailed sprites and the backdrops are all colorful and unique. And the magic spells, which are Golden Axe’s version of special moves look better then in the other two games. Each warrior has there own magic element, and each magic has multiple levels of power. The fire magic for example wielded by Tyris Flare, the Amazon, ranges from a fireball, to a fire breathing dragon attack.

The music excels as well. And Golden Axe III’s score is also the best of the series. And the sound effects from the death cries of your enemies to the casting of magic all sound as they should.

The gameplay is further enhanced by new combo moves, and faster gameplay. The warriors no longer feel stiff as they did in previous entries in the series.



The Bad
For some reason Sega of America did not release this game in the USA. Despite the fact that it is the best in the long running series. Therefore American Genesis gamers missed out on one of the best games on the console. That would be like if Shinobi III, Phantasy Star IV, or Shining Force were never available in America.

The Bottom Line
If you are in Japan or Europe you can probably still find this game. If in America you could always play the rom, which is not illegal as this game was never for sale in America. However you have to play it I suggest you give it a try.

Genesis · by MasterMegid (723) · 2006

A solid medieval beat 'em-up and the best of the series

The Good
Just like the two previous Golden Axe titles for the Genesis, Golden Axe III is a side-scrolling beat 'em-up in a medieval fantasy setting. In many ways it's also the best of the bunch. While its disappointing prequel, Golden Axe II, added only a new magic system to the series, Golden Axe III has several new features that improve the gameplay:

  • There are now four heroes to choose from including two new characters. Gilius the dwarf only has a minor role in the intro and is replaced by a fast & acrobatic panther and a slow & bulky barbarian. Both the swordsman Ax Battler and the amazon Tyris Flare return from the previous games. The characters differ enough from each other to warrant extra playthroughs. These heroes and their moves have been nicely designed and when you compare them with the characters of Golden Axe II, it's obvious that more frames of animation have been used.

  • Characters now have a lot more moves, making the combat (which is the most important gameplay element) a lot more interesting. The previous games in the series had a rather limited combat-system but Golden Axe III offers a multitude of ways to beat up the opposition. Depending on which character you pick there are two or three different ways to throw an enemy, each hero has three different aerial/jump-attacks, you can launch projectiles, block incoming blows, double jump & jump off walls (Tyris & panther), knock enemies of their feet with a low sweep attack, cover your back with a special attack that works in two directions etc. This just makes the gameplay so much more interesting. Since basically all you do in this game is beat up one group of enemies after another it is nice that you can do that in variety of different ways. Most of the available moves can easily be executed but there are some exceptions (see bad section).

  • I liked the fact that you can now pick your own route through the game (there's a junction point in nearly every level), it improves the replay value of the game. One path may have tougher enemies than another but may also contain more rewarding items (like magic potions, health power-ups, hostages which give you an extra life when you rescue five of them). You can choose to free the three other heroes from a curse by defeating "possessed versions" of these heroes but you can also avoid these battles if you pick a different set of levels.

  • These levels take place in a nice variety of different settings ranging from deserts and mountains, to cities, jungles, caves and the back of a giant eagle (just like in Golden Axe I). Some of these levels have a Conan-like low fantasy atmosphere about them, which I appreciate. Unfortunately the enemies are not as varied as the landscape. Excluding the possessed versions of the heroes and the endboss, you'll face eight different types of enemies in a variety of color palettes but it's hard to hold that against the game as that was a common practice when Golden Axe III was released.

  • Like every other good side-scrolling brawler, Golden Axe 3 has of course a two-player coop mode. What's new to this entry of the series is the ability to perform teammoves, a feature which was already present in Sega's other fighting franchise Streets of Rage. Every combination of heroes has it's own teammove which is nice. Another new feature is the ability to combine the magical attacks of player 1 & 2. If you have ten magic potions combined between the two of you and use your magic simultaneously (after you've given each other a small nod with your head), you will summon a very powerful & cool-looking magical attack. These additions make Golden Axe III a fun game to play cooperatively with two players.

  • The music is still "appropriately heroic" and fits the medieval-fantasy setting of the game. It is upbeat when it needs to be upbeat and tense when you face more serious opponents / bosses. Sound effects have been improved compared to its predecessor (they don't sound so weak anymore).

  • The AI of the enemies has also been improved a bit. They don't walk straight into pits & chasms anymore and some enemies will use their shield to block some of your attacks. However most of the times the strength of your opponents is still in numbers.


The Bad
  • The magic system introduced in Golden Axe II has strangely been left out of this game. This means you can't dose your magic and can only use all your magic potions at once, just like in the first game. I prefer being able to save some magic for an upcoming enemy. With the old system you often don't use your magic cause a tougher opponent is coming up, but since your magic capacity is limited some potions you could have collected go to waste.

  • The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag. As I mentioned above, I like the design & animations of the playable characters, the magical attacks (there's a different animation for every power level and each hero has its own type of magic), the intro and the design of some stages. However some other stages (Tender Hamlet, Bloody Street) look rather poor. Some enemies and beasts look silly (for example the little fat guys, the dragons that attack with their tongue) and don't move about very fluently, they seem to miss a a couple frames of animation. There are also some graphical glitches, the screen may start to flicker when it has several characters on it. The graphics of Sega's own Streets of Rage 2, which was released a year earlier, are better than those of Golden Axe III.

  • Some of the beasts you can ride on don't give you much of an advantage. The red fire-breathing dragon and the green saurus with the long tongue can be useful but you're better of without the green dragon or the purple saurus. Since you're not as agile, while riding a beast, as you are on foot, you can easily get knocked off them.

  • While the controls are mostly good, some moves are a bit tricky; blocking an attack is risky. You have to press back + the attack-button simultaneously, I often ended up slashing in the opposite direction leaving my back open for an attack. Each hero has two types of throws but it's hard to pick a specific one as the required key-combinations are nearly identical. To perform Ax's (and the Barbarian's) range-attack you'll need to do a full circle backwards & press jump + attack. It may be hard to find the time for this when there are five enemies attacking you. The Megadrive's joypad is part of the problem. Since one button launches your magical attack, there are only two buttons left for all the other moves. For instance if this was a SNES title I bet there would've been a special block button.

  • The first time you'll finish this game, the end-boss is probably surprisingly easy to beat and you'll find the ending disappointing. It's only when you manage to beat the regular game using only a single credit that you get to experience the more epic ending.


The Bottom Line
The final Genesis/Megadrive game in the Golden Axe series is also the best one. While you're still beating up wave after wave of somewhat similar looking goons, the improved combat system, the four different playable characters and the ability to pick your own route make this a fun 2D-brawler. Of course the gameplay is very dated, but even today I enjoy playing it when I'm in the mood for some mindless bashing.

Genesis · by Roedie (5239) · 2010

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Syed GJ.

Windows added by yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy). iPhone, Wii added by Sciere. Linux, Macintosh added by Foxhack.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, j.raido 【雷堂嬢太朗】.

Game added March 27, 2003. Last modified February 15, 2024.