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This is the first game in the Golden Axe series. For other games in the series see the Golden Axe category.

Box artwork for Golden Axe.
Box artwork for Golden Axe.
Golden Axe
Year released1989
System(s)Arcade, DOS, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64/128, Amstrad CPC, Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, TurboGrafx-CD, WonderSwan Color, Tapwave Zodiac, Wii, Xbox 360, Mobile, Windows, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Switch
Followed byGolden Axe II
Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder
SeriesGolden Axe,
Sega Ages
Genre(s)Beat 'em up
ModesSingle player, Multiplayer
Rating(s)ESRB Everyone
Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 5: Golden Axe
Year released2005
System(s)PlayStation 2
LinksGolden Axe at PCGamingWikiGolden Axe ChannelSearchSearch
Golden Axe marquee

Golden Axe is a side-scrolling hack-and-slash game released by Sega for arcades in 1989, running on the Sega System 16B arcade hardware. Makoto Uchida was the lead designer of the game, and was also responsible for the creation of the previous year's Altered Beast. The game casts players as one of three warriors who must free the fantastical land of Yuria from the tyrannical rule of Death Adder, who wields the titular Golden Axe.

The game was well received at the time of release, Golden Axe was later converted for play on many different home systems, including Sega's own Mega Drive/Genesis and Master System. The game's success spawned an entire franchise consisting of several sequels and various spin-offs.


Progress is made through the game by fighting through Death Adder's henchmen, including men armed with clubs and maces, skeleton warriors, and knights. Players are able to attack using their weapon, jump and cast spells that hurt all enemies on the screen. The force of this magic depends on the number of "bars" of magic power currently available. The bars are filled by collecting blue "magic potions" attained by kicking little sprites who then drop the potions. These sprites appear during regular levels and during bonus stages in between levels. The male warrior Ax is able to cast earth spells. The dwarf Gilius casts lightning spells and the female warrior Tyris casts fire magic. Each character has a different maximum number of magic bars and varying ranges of attack. If the players take too long to advance, skeleton swordsmen emerge from the ground.

Various steeds known as bizarrians are found in the game. These can be ridden when the enemy rider is knocked off, or if one is found dormant. The least powerful steed is known as the Cockatrice (which also appeared in Altered Beast), which can be used to knock down enemies with a swipe of its tail. The more powerful dragon, which can either shoot fireballs or breathe fire depending on its color scheme, is found later in the game.

In addition to the main quest, some home versions of the game included "duel mode", a survival mode type game that pitted players against increasingly powerful foes in consecutive rounds of play. This mode also featured a two-player one-on-one option.


The game's title screen.

The land of Yuria is in danger. The evil Death Adder has found the Golden Axe, a magical emblem of the land, and has used its power to capture the royal family and overthrow the land. Each of the heroes has lost a relative to Death Adder; as they begin their journey to avenge their dead a friend, Alex, stumbles bleeding onto the screen, explains what has happened, and is killed by one of Death Adder's henchmen (in most ports this scene is instead depicted through dialogue).


The Mega Drive/Genesis version remained largely faithful to the arcade game, adding a level and a duel mode, along with a new ending.

The IBM PC compatible port released in 1990 is similar to the Mega Drive/Genesis version, but includes a 256 color VGA mode as well as support for EGA, CGA, and Hercules modes. Atari ST and Amiga ports released in late 1990 by Virgin Software are similar to the arcade. The Amiga port is similar to the arcade game, with some palette changes and without parallax scrolling.

Variations of the original game have also been released. The Sega Master System version of the game retells the original story from the perspective of Tarik, a barbarian with resemblances to Ax Battler (much like all the other barbarian in the entire series: Kain Grinder, Stern Blade and Kain Blade). While the game is only one-player, it features all of the levels and magic powers of the arcade version. In Japan, Golden Axe was released by Telenet for the PC Engine CD-ROM in 1990 with high-quality resampled music and cut scenes.

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