Review Information
Reviewer Name: Stan
Reviewer Email: Private
Game Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Options: False
Game Information
Full Title: Golden Axe Warrior
Year Released: 1990
Game Type: RPG
Max Players: 1
Introduction


Ah yes, the SMS answer to "The Legend of Zelda," one of the most well-known and talked about video games of all time. You may be thinking, great a hacked down version of total awesomeness. Well, think again, because though this game may in some ways be VERY similar to Zelda, it has it's own features and differences. Enough to give itself credit.
Gameplay
If you're familiar with Zelda, then you'll be right at home with this. You play as the hero of the game, who has come to destroy Death Adder and end his reign of terror in Firewood. Generally the same idea as going to get Gannon, in fact it's set up basically the same way. You have to first collect nine crystals before you can do this, and they are hidden inside of nine different labyrinths, which are scattered across the land. An added bonus in this game is the plethora of hidden secrets, money games, towns, informative hermits, and shops. There are plenty of things to locate, and, in fact, normally one secret on every screen hidden behind a tree or under a rock (or elsewhere). By looking around you'll find various tools to help you with your quest. Eventually you'll get such items as the canoe and the ship to go to different areas you could previously not enter, and even across the ocean to other continents! This was something missing from Zelda, a huge world to investigate with different peoples and regions. In this game you'll find an ice region, a region of desert, and so forth. It's really nicely done. Also, there is the added bonus of magic, of which there are four types, three of which can be upgraded once for more powerful versions. Though not entirely flashy most of the time, they are an added bonus that really enhance the gameplay, plus some of them are necessary in order to get to certain parts of the game. Save points are all over the place, and you don't just have to die in order to save your game, as you do in Zelda. Normally you'll find a town or hidden cave where you can do this before every labyrinth. When you find these, you navigate through with your weapons and tools (where necessary), finding secrets, killing enemies, collecting keys, and then destroying the head boss in order to collect a crystal. That's about all you need to know, it follows the same format as Zelda, but adds some nice features that makes it really stand apart from its predecessor. Plus, I liked the fact that you could come back to a labyrinth after dying and collecting more life/magic to find that everything you previously accomplished was more or less the same (including enemies wasted). The only main problem I had with it was the trick you could use on most of the bosses. All you had to do was simply leave your character in the doorway as he walks in, never moving except for swinging your weapon. The majority of the bosses, including Death Adder, were simply too big to fit in the door, plus, more importantly, their weapons could not enter, so you could just sit there and belt away without taking any damage. Should have fixed that, but I guess they expected you to just enter and fight. If the boss would not appear until you entered and then the door locked, it would have worked.
Graphics
Here is one of the areas where the game really shines in comparison to Zelda, it has simply wonderful graphics. Some of them aren't very innovative (palette swap bosses always annoy me and a few of them could have used some more detail), but they're wonderful nonetheless. Lots of colors and fluid motion, it's well done. The opening story is decent, but the title screen is a real showcase of what the SMS can do.
Sound & Music
Here we find the game a bit lacking. One of the things most memorable about Zelda was the music, it simply fit perfectly. Though the music in Golden Axe Warrior is not necessarily bad, it simply gets a tad annoying and repetitive and sometimes really doesn't fit. The labyrinth music could have stood to be more creepy, though the boss music is nice. Sound effects, however, are good, much better than what you'll find in Zelda.
Controls
Controls are a bit shaky at first, your character has a tendency to move a bit in the wrong direction until you get used to them, but it's not a big problem or anything. While against some enemies that require you to move close, it can affect gameplay as you will most likely get struck regardless of how well you operate the controls (the clamshell creatures bring this to mind). Still, it's a very easy set up and the interface with different items is simple. May have been a good idea to have two separate slots, one for a weapon, and one for a tool/magic, but since you never really need to use two at once, it doesn't matter.
Replay Value
Scores
Gameplay
Graphics
Music & Sound
Controls
Replay Value
I'd have to say that sometime in the future I'll come back to this game to play it again, but it does have its faults. First off, the ending, it wasn't very good. Mind you, the text ending of Zelda isn't very special, but a great ending would have really brought this game above the former. Also, it's simply a bit too easy. I remember spending weeks on Zelda (months on the second quest), but it took me only about 4 days to run through this game. Mind you, I was totally into it and played it for a few hours each day, but it could have been more difficult. Still, I'll assure you you won't put it down easily.
Conclusion
In conclusion this is definitely one of the games you simply have to own for the Master System. It's one of the few RPGs (though it's more of an adventure type game), plus it's very well done. For an added bonus for us NTSC collector's, it also one of the rarest NTSC games out there, pretty hard to locate. For now, I'm out yo.
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