Golden Axe: Beast Rider

Sega’s retro classic Golden Axe charges on to the the 360 and PS3, if you have never played the original side scrolling hack and slash then it’s time to dig out that old Master System and scour eBay for a copy or take a visit to Xbox LIVE arcade and download a very worthwhile piece of gaming history. Golden Axe: Beast Rider brings the franchise into the next gen in true third person hack and slash style.

Golden Axe: Beast Rider is a prequel to the original. It’s tells the tale of Tyris Flare, an amazonian Axion Priestess who’s village is destroyed by the evil Death Adder’s army, in an invasion that sees her people massacred and the magical Dragon Lord Titan, worshipped by the Axion Priestesses captured. The last of her people, Tyris vows to seek out Death Adder and free the sacred dragon.

Of course, you don’t just walk up to Death Adders castle, knock the door and slice him in half, there are plenty of minions and henchmen to defeat along the way. Dressed far less than sensibly and wielding with one hand a sword almost as long as her whole screamingly sexy body, Tyris begins her quest with a short combat tutorial. There are your basic attacks, one fast and weak, one slow and strong and evade and parry depending on the colour coded attack of the opponent. Immediately countering after the evade or parry is a very effective way of disposing of your victim in an extremely gory fashion. Timing is essential, though there is a bit of give. It can feel sluggish at times but it works and isn’t too frustrating to learn which is a good thing as button bashing will only get you so far. Using magic that emits a ring of fire all around you is a good option when dealing with a group of bad guys but the fire ball spell is tricky to aim and best left for one on one or even just lighting fire sticks to progress through gates.

There are 5 powerful beasts at your command, each with different capabilities and powerful attacks. They are pretty slow and cumbersome, if the enemy gets behind you it’s not possible to quickly whip round and pounce on him, but then they are huge beasts they’re not supposed to be nimble cat-like creatures. This needs to be taken into account when taking on a large group where stealth abilities and long range fire and magic attacks will be more likely to result in victory. If take a direct hit, you will get dismounted, but it’s slightly more forgiving than the original and you wont find yourself being thrown to the ground every 10 seconds.

With Beast Rider being a prequel it’s not overly necessary to know the history of the game, those who do will appreciate the small touches such as the cheeky thieving gnomes who must be struck to gain life and magic potions, much harder than it sounds let me tell you, and can be damn near impossible at times but it’s good for a giggle and it breaks up what is a pretty intense and serious game. On the down side, there is no co-op at all you will meet the dwarf and barbarian along the way but disappointingly they are not playable characters, The dwarf, Gilius Thunderhead, appears early on in the story and gives you the magical Golden Axe but it’s broken, only by finding the missing pieces and restoring the axe to full power can you possibly hope to challenge Death Adder. The axe is not useless though with it’s first main function being to target and smash keystone type statues to gain access to other areas.

On the surface Beast Rider delivers what you’d expect from a next gen Golden Axe remake, it’s pretty to look at, the colours are a bit washed out in places though. The characters are true to the original and the beasts are varied and fun, they can be a bit too weak against multiple enemies but there are beast spawn points all over the place and while it can be a pain in the arse to run back and get another one the choice is always there. I personally found the music to be a strong point, for the most part it’s got a real tribal feel to it and has the odd remixed tune from the original thrown in for the nostalgia effect.







2 responses to “Golden Axe: Beast Rider”

  1. Dave avatar

    Good review Laura, the game sounds mint! I’m a big fan of the originals so it’s comforting to know it hasn’t been screwed up (the Altered Beast remake still gives me shivers)

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