I’ve been joining in with a retro gaming club on a forum I’m on, the first month we played Links Awakening, but due to using my phone and emulators to play it I got too distracted by social media and the likes being available so readily that I didnt put much time into it.
For April we played Golden Axe, with us all playing on a variety of platforms. I played on two and I’ll come to those in a moment.
My memories of Golden Axe are split into two seperate experiences and I don’t really know which is the earliest. The shortest tale is of being in the waiting area of Jersey Airport and seeing the arcade cab and having a play on it there, my lasting memory is of the skeletons, which suggests I got a decent way in (I’ve no idea how many coins I pumped into it, sorry) as they don’t appear until the latter half of the game, unless it was a different Golden Axe I was playing, I’ve not knowingly played Golden Axe 2 or 3 so can’t comment if the skeletons appear earlier in those games or not.
My other memory is of sleeping over at my older sisters, shes around ten years older than I am and would have us over at the weekends so my Dad could go out to the pub with friends after working all week (my parents split when I was young and initially my Mum and her boyfriend at the time were living with his brother so my younger sister and I couldn’t stay over). My sisters boyfriend had a Master System II, as did I although mine had Alex Kidd built in, his had Sonic the Hedgehog. Other than having Sonic the Hedgehog he also had a copy of Golden Axe, and whilst I don’t remember it intricately, I do remember sitting up on the end of the bed playing on it until my sister would come up and tell me to go to sleep. Poor sleeping habits and videogames are pretty much a pattern for me as you may discover in later #ThrowBackThursday posts.
Let’s come back to the present then. My initial choice to play Golden Axe was via the SEGA Mega Drive Collection (or SEGA Genesis Collection if you’re in the US) on my PSP. For such an old game it really does look lovely on the PSP-2000’s screen, the sprites and colours are crisp and sharp and not in the least blocky, which is probably due to the systems size, I doubt it’d look this good on a television without some poking. It plays well too, again, largely thanks to the system as the d-pad on this 2000 model is excellent (as I discussed in last weeks KOF94 post), and the more I played and the more I learned the better the experience. I didn’t know about the special moves the characters have, for example, nor the differences in the characters beyond the level of their magic usage. Even so, I found the PSP Mega Drive Collection rather difficult and despite playing it in fits and drabs for a month, would only ever get half way through the last stage at very best.
The other version I played was the version SEGA ported to the XBox 360’s XBLA platform, although I played on my XBox One S. Admittedly I ramped up the number of lives, etc to the maximum that version allows, and managed to complete it twice on one continue each. Coming back to the games visual appearance, knowing that it would be played on the a larger HD compatible TV, SEGA have redone the artwork for the sprites and they look kind of painted. I can understand why they’ve done it, I remember rightly, back when this was ported, there wasn’t much in the way of enjoyment of pixel based artwork and everything had to be up-ressed, now it just looks blurry and a bit crap. Still, it plays well, the controls don’t feel as tight as they do on the PSP, my ability to pull of special moves or dash attacks wasn’t as consistent on the XBox One controller as it was on the PSP, but its still a really enjoyable game that doesn’t ever really feel too unfair, unlike alot of arcade games of this vintage.