There was a time when I was perfectly happy to stand in front of a Golden Axe arcade machine and feed it coin after coin and I didnít mind that the game was shallow because, at the time, it happened to be a great deal of fun. I loved the game so much that when I saw it on the Sega Megadrive I couldnít resist picking it up in order to bash away at those linear levels once again. Many years have passed and with the advancement of technology there comes a greater expectation from games. When I first heard about Golden Axe: Beast Rider part of me was worried that it might not live up to my skewed nostalgia-blind expectations while part of me was hoping that since it looks the part, as can be seen from the screenshots below, perhaps this game would win me over.http://www.teamteabag.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/golden-axe-6.jpghttp://www.teamteabag.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/golden-axe-2.jpghttp://www.teamteabag.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/golden-axe-4.jpg
The main character, Tyris Flare, looks very good in this game, and the beasts not only look equally as good but they are also blessed with some nice animations and move around really well. If you are thinking of this game and youíre wondering whether or not it manages to capture much of what was good about the original Golden Axe then youíll be pleasantly surprised, to an extent. There are many things in this game which will make you think back to the original. Tyris Flare makes a comeback and, letís face it, she was the best of the three playable characters anyway. Riding beasts will remind you of the original games and by this I mean that you will constantly be knocked off their back, be forced to quickly climb on again, and then watch as the precious creature meets an early demise. You might be happy to know that the sadistic fun of burning enemies has successfully stood the test of time. The game is complete with the sudden appearance of Gnomes and your attempts to chase them down, smash them in their silly Gnome faces, and pick up the resulting items which they drop from their sacks. I am sure youíre now thinking that his all sounds petty good, and for the first ten minutes thatís exactly how the game makes you feel, but the creators failed to stop at this and decided to include a negative feature of the original, the dreaded linearity.
The lack of choice in Golden Axe: Beast Rider will be painful to anyone who expects a little more from their games and this is coming from someone who enjoyed playing Conan. The main difference between the two is that this game teases you with much more and never delivers. I donít know about anyone else but if Iím playing a game and I look out and see a vast mountain range, which practically begs you to run over and explore it, I want to go and have a look. You canít explore, so donít even attempt to, not only canít you climb over walls or venture up hills, thereís an invisible barrier in place so you canít even fall off a bridge to your death. I understand that this is a fantasy game and will include fantastical elements such as magic, dragons, and goblins, but when you canít even climb up a hill or fall off a bridge you find yourself crashing back to reality and with this comes the realization that youíre playing a very shallow game.
I have always stated that I donít mind repetitive games as long as I find the experience to be enjoyable and my interest is sufficiently maintained. I am not sure if the developers realize this but they had the making of a very good game here and if only they had strived to add a few interesting elements to the mix then this could have been a very different review. If the game offered a greater variety of beasts, allowed us to wander around a little to remove the feeling that weíre on a leash, or took a note from FF7 and let us capture and breed the beasts, I would happily recommend Golden Axe: Beast Rider but, as it happens, I cannot.5/10