The Golden (Axe) Age?

Back when I was a young’un, the SEGA Master System was my console of choice. This was back when my friend Kris and I used to rent the system and a couple of games on the weekends to get our video game kicks – I don’t think I ever even imagined the possibility of owning a console until I was in my late teens. Anyway, it was with considerable amount of both glee and skepticism that I purchased the SEGA Ultimate Collection for the Xbox 360.

I pondered which of the multitude of classic SEGA titles to play, but the whole exercise was futile. It was Golden Axe or nothing. In a lot of ways it’s Golden Axe that stands out more than anything from those days. Well, maybe that and the early NHL games, which were pretty awesome. But I remember trekking through the world of Golden Axe so vividly – the funny close-quarters move where you repeatedly tap a bad guy on the head with the butt of your weapon, the pretty awesome magic effects, the little gnomes with the potions and meat-on-the-bone power-ups, the giant chuckling dudes with hammers. Oh man.

And, unsurprisingly, playing Golden Axe on the 360 brought it all back to me pretty vividly. Apart from the bit where I was just sitting in the apartment on my own clicking away at it and trying to beat the game solo. Which I just failed to do because I completely forgot that after defeating the awe-inspiring Death Adder, there’s actually a further bad dude, and he took me (well, my dwarf) to town. But it was pretty amazing. When the final bad guy did his funny magical ground attack where a four golden shapes move along the ground from him it was like I was being thrown all the way into the past and its passionate conversations about how in the sweet hell we were supposed to beat that guy. Ah, nostalgia.

Maybe the weirdest part of the experience for me was just how short the game is. It seriously feels like it’s maybe 30 minutes from start to end. In my mind my childhood struggles with the game were epic, sweaty affairs that left painful dents in my thumbs. Now I’ve pushed through the game to the end sequence twice in a quiet evening at home. It took my longer to climb the damn cliff in GIRP the first time.

As such, Golden Axe wasn’t so much fun as it was an impressive memory machine – it was like being 10 or however old I was again. I was wearing track-suit pants with stirrups and a tucked-in sweatshirt again. Hmmm. Maybe I didn’t need to share that.

5 May 2011
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