Golden Axe

Golden Axe is without doubt one of the defining titles of the 16-Bit era and synonymous Segas with arcade and console reputation. The hack-n-slash beat em up was highly popular in both the arcades and home versions when released in 1989.

The game was created by Team Shinobi who were behind other titles such as Streets of Rage and Revenge of Shinobi. The Mega Drive port became one of the systems earliest must-have games.

Whilst not a 100% accurate the port of the arcade original captured the spirit of the arcade game and contained 2 additional levels. Ultimately it became a staple Mega Drive title spawning 2 sequels.


Death Adder is our evil foe - a 12ft reptilian creature that has invaded the land of Yuria. He has kidnapped the king and his daughter and is holding them captive in their own castle. He has seized control of the land with his armies of creatures that has defeated the kings armies.

Death Adder has found the Golden Axe, the magical emblem of the land of Yuria. He plans to destroy this icon and execute the royal family unless the people bow to him.

3 warriors each having been scarred by Death Adder join forces to rid the land of this evil tyrant.
Ax Battler


Tyris Flare


Gillius Thunderhead



Golden Axe is a side-scrolling beat em up with simplistic gameplay. You control a character wielding a weapon. You progress on the screen from left to right defeating any enemies that you encounter as well as traversing the odd plunge in the landscape.

At the end of each round there will be a boss or bosses. When a round is completed you will play an intersection were you can earn some units of magic, energy and the story of the game is progressed.

There are 3 selectable characters in the game; Ax Battler - the Barbarian, Gilius Thunderhead the fearless Dwarf and Tyris Flare - The Amazon.

The game can be played in singe player mode or 2 player co-op mode. Beware that you can damage your team mate.

The D-pad moves your character around the screen. Pressing left or right twice makes your character run in that direction.

Button A triggers a magical attack. More about this further on.

Button B is attack. Pressing repeatedly makes your character perform different attacks.

Pressing once or twice gives you a stab.

Pressing 3 times gives:

a strong stab or a slice at an enemy with a slight distance

Or to poke your weapon handle at nearby enemies

Grab an enemy that is close and throw them.

Pressing 4 times to quickly poke your weapon handle at a close enemy.

Pressing 5 times to finish off with a kick.

Button C is jump.

Buttons B and C pressed together performs a power move. This inflicts heavy damage on an opponent. For Ax and Tyris they will spin their sword over their head and hit the person behind. For Gillius he will roll backwards and hit the person behind.

By running and pressing button B your character will do a barge move or a flying kick.

Jumping and attacking performs a jump attack. This does not do much damage but is useful for knocking down enemies.

Running, jumping and attacking (forward, forward, C , B) makes for a high jump attack. This inflicts heavy damage.


At the bottom of the screen is your life gauge. By default you have 3 units of energy per life and 3 lives. When your units are gone you die. Different enemies inflict different amounts of damage; the biggest obviously inflicting more. You can replenish some units of energy by collecting food from green thieves.

The game starts with 3 credits. When you have exhausted all of your credits it is Game Over and you will be shown a leader board of how much strength your character has.

The top left of the screen displays which round you are on and the red bar is your magical power status.

Magic Attacks

To aid you in your battles you an call upon magical powers to destroy enemies. Each character has access to a different element; Ax has access to Earth, Tyris has access to Fire and Gillius has access to Lightening or Electricity.
Magic Theif


The strength and appearance of these powers vary depending on how many units of magical are used. Units are collected from blue Thieves that are around in each level and between levels. When hit they will drop blue bottles. Walking on them collects.

Each element requires a different number of units detailed by the red bar at the top left of the screen. Each number represents a different type of magical attack.

Magical Attacks

Earth Maximum Attack

Earth (Ax) = 4 types of attack and 6 units for max

Fire Maximum Attack

Fire (Tyris) = 6 types of attack and 9 units for max

Lightening Maximum Attack

Lightening (Gillius) = 3 types of attack and 4 units for max

When you initiate a magical attack all of your units will be used. A full power attack usually wipes out all enemies on the screen except for the largest bosses.


On several stages you will see enemies riding on dragons. You can knock them off and take the dragon for yourself to attack with. If left unattended for a short period or you are knocked off it 3 times it will run off the screen. Beware enemies can also reclaim their dragons.

When riding a dragon you can attack with it by pressing the B button or charge attack by running and pressing B.
Fire Breathing Dragon Fireball Breathing Dragon
Tail Swiping Dragon

Small Dragon - Pink and Yellow - This has a tail that swipes enemies and knocks them down

Blue Dragon Breathes fire short range attack

Pink Dragon Breathes fireballs long range atack

The Duel

Dual mode pitches your character against a series of enemies increasing in size, strength and numbers. The object is to simply defeat these before the timer runs out. You have a set amount of energy at the start which can not be replenished. When you have none left you die and the duel is over.
The Duel

The Duel

At the end you will be given your amount of strength and a ranking.


Allows you to play a easier game to stage 3. Enemies are only half the strength and you will only use 2 units of your magic in an attack.


You can tweak a few options being:

Life Meter you can increase or decrease the life meter.
Controls - Reassign the controls.
Sound Test - play the sounds.


Golden Axe: Stage 1 Golden Axe: Stage 2

Stage 1

Stage 2

Golden Axe: Stage 3 Golden Axe: Stage 4

Stage 3

Stage 4

Golden Axe: Stage 5 Golden Axe: Stage 6

Stage 5

Stage 6

Golden Axe: Stage 7 Golden Axe: Stage 8

Stage 7

Stage 8


Stage Select

At the character select screen, hold down + left + B and press start. On the upper left corner of your screen, there will be a number. Pressing Up and Down will change the number to the stage to start on.

9 Continues

To begin the game with 9 continues on the character select screen hold the bottom left corner of the D-pad making the warriors spin continuously. Next press A and C together then let go of everything and press Start.


You can use the drops to your advantage to swiftly defeat enemies.

If an enemy is charging at you with a dragon then the only way not to take damage is to avoid it. Even if you are charging with a dragon of your own you will still take the hit.


Golden Axe is another Sega title that has appeared on a whole range of consoles and computers from PC Engine to ZX Spectrum. These are some of the more significant. For a complete list of every version of Golden Axe out there checkout the links to the sites below.

The game has 2 different sequels; Golden Axe 2 on the Mega Drive and Golden Axe 2: Revenge of Death Adder on System32 Arcade. This had the ability for 4 player co-op.
Golden Axe 2: The Revenge of Death Adder Golden Axe 2: The Revenge of Death Adder

Golden Axe 2: The Revenge of Death Adder

Golden Axe: The Dual appeared on the Saturn in 1996. This was basically a 2D 1 on 1 beat em up.


Plays perfectly in Kega Fusion, Gens and KGEN.

The arcade version can be played with System16 emulator.
Golden Axe Arcade Version Golden Axe Arcade Version

Golden Axe Arcade Version


All Things Golden Axe

History of Golden Axe

Brilliant website detailing the whole Golden Axe franchise.


In the Mega Drives peak Sega Power Magazine issued a novalisation of Golden Axe as a freebie.

Not the most riveting read as I remember. They did the same for Road Rash and Desert Strike.

Sega Power Golden Axe Novel


Golden Axe 2 Feature

Mega Drive/Genesis Sega

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