Golden Axe is one of those iconic Sega franchises that hung around long enough for an abysmal attempt at a revival last gen (not quite Altered Beast level, but still), despite the single best entry of the series tragically left to die on a few cabinets & MAME setups
it hails from the tail end of the 80’s, when conan influenced kalinske to give he-man a backtory & cartoon to help push the aesthetic for those of us who weren’t reading savage sword of conan as kids i guess. it’s cool for what it is, but i felt like every chapter got a little worse, until 3 showed up & tried to deal with the most glaring problem - speed - and ended up feeling like a low-rent SOR clone at that point, losing the series’ identity in the process.
meanwhile, Alien Storm shows up with a better approach on the same template, and i know i’ve heard folks knock the genre switchups - there’s run & gun levels (one of my all-time favorite genres) as well as first person ones - but to me, this addresses one of the biggest problems beat-em-ups ran into even at the height of their popularity: once we got more effort past palette switches, people still saw how repetitive they got. expanded move sets helped, bu even on some of the great Neo Geo ones, it’s hard to finish them in one sitting unless you’re ready to push past some of the monotony. mind you, not all attempts to buck this trend work well - splatterhouse 3 was weird, y’all - but i welcomed it.
by some accounts, the biggest loss of the game was losing the cool ghostbusters-esque intro from the coin-op, which i’ve still not emulated cause i really wanna play it in an arcade one day. knowing that connection was there makes it even cooler, much less gillius thunderhead as a judge bridging the gap.
so yeah, GA was fun but console-wise? it peaked in '91 when someone deiced to ape Zelda 1 but make it more interesting, and also international courts now recognize taito’s original Rastan as the best barbarian game so there’s no point in disputing this further.
yes, whiskey in involved here, but still