If ever there’s a dying art in video games, it’s the scrolling beat ’em up. You, and possibly a friend, if you can enlist any, traverse a set of linear stages filled with nameless foes to be vanquished in stylistically brutal fashion, usually to a rockin’ soundtrack and the backdrop of a world where you’re the underdog hero, the only hope against an evil so dastardly it doesn’t even bear giving a chance to speak. They just don’t make them like they used to, with many enjoying a second half-life on compendiums and online-only re-releases as a hope of reliving those golden days of being forced to huddle around the Super Nintendo or Sega Mega Drive and bleed every bit of fun out of whatever game you happened to rent for the weekend based on cool cover art and some particularly colorful screenshots.
My personal favorite of these is, and will likely always be, the legendary Golden Axe on the Sega Mega Drive. From the opening tribalist percussion, to the macabre fantasy logo and aesthetic, to ramming countless enemies with Gilius Thunderhead’s head, every single play-through leaves me feeling satisfied and entertained. My repeated time with the game has meant that I can now complete it with a relative amount of ease, and know most of the facets of every level by heart, leading to each individual boss having their own strategy. And its with a slight level of reluctance that I share these secrets, in the hopes that you, too, can bask in the glory of seeing Death Bringer impaled with his own axe.
Boss 1 – Bad Brothers
The first level takes things a little easy, while still introducing the basic mechanics – enemies appear, you must be cunning in eliminating them, and there’s funky lookin’ creatures to ride to make your job easier. If you can, I advise grabbing one of these creatures for the duration and using it in this first boss battle as it will cut your time down considerably.
These first big enemies are called the Bad Brothers, and though big in stature, they’re actually a relatively regular enemy throughout the game, and pretty easy to trump to boot. They move slowly unless in a dash, and have powerful blows if you allow them to hit you. Key is to knock one down, and then the other, and to do so with both at either side of the screen so you can do a back and forth. There are two enemies before these guys become active, but both can be swiftly taken out if you stay to the bottom half of the screen and get the first one of the beast first.
Boss 2 – Two Strobayas/Lemanayas w/ Dragon/Skeleton
Eliminating the two Strobayas is easy as only one moves at a time. Kill the first one, then kill the second one. The difficulty literally comes running in with the two Lemanayas and a skeleton with a dragon in tow. Imperative here to get control of that dragon, or at least make sure they don’t have control of it. Once that’s been done, keep moving around the area as the three will beat you to a pulp given half the chance. Kill the skeleton first, as they are fast and prove very irritating if left to their devices. Once one is killed, the same technique of dashing into the other two can be used. And yes, you will be using that dash a LOT.
Boss 3 – Lt. Bitter
His compatriots, Silver Heninger and Silver Longmoan, are your first concern. Dispatch them with regular ease before focussing on big man Bitter. He’s the first tough boss, and the strategy varies by character. Gilius and Tyris (dwarf and female) can use the dash move repeatedly to work him down. However, the male character can’t so you have to wait until he gets close, dodge either up or down, and then start swinging. Finding the exact timing is difficult, but once you get it developing a pattern is relatively easy.
Boss 4 – Two Skeletons/Dark Longmoan
This is a tiered battle, and the final combination is easily the toughest. The skeletons are incredibly fast and powerful in numbers, and the Dark Longmoan is one of the strongest of the standard enemies. Do. Not. Get. Pinned. Down. If you do, you will lose a life. You have to separate them out, so knock one down with a dash, then move away, do the same to another, and then the other. Keep doing this until one is dead, then catch two of them a in a lock with the dash. Jump slashing doesn’t work against skeletons, and the Dark Longmoan will outdo you if he gets a dash started when you start yours. Be cautious, time is your friend in these situations.
Boss 5 – Two Col. Bitters
How does one defeat two slow moving, powerful knights? You take them down one-by-one. Separate them by moving around the area, taking pot shots if they get close, then work combos in at opportune moments. If you aren’t a good dash character, this will take time, but its not a fight to panic over, and if you take it easy you’ll find a rhythm soon enough.
Boss 6 – Death Adder
The proxy for the final boss, this is a real challenge. Two skeletons and a massive axe-widling knight who uses magic actively? You have GOT to be careful. This is the first battle I would recommend using magic to start with. Knocks everyone down and allows you to take stock of where you are and where they are. Stay our of Death Adder’s line and deal with the skeletons first. Dash one down, then dash the other, and keep moving, and repeat. Once it’s just you and old Deathy, dash attacks all around. You can dash attakc over his ground magic, so just keep dashing and if you get hit or a distance forms, be careful and give yourself time to regroup.
Boss 7 – Death Bringer
There are some hefty battles in the previos stage, but with the amount of ledges and cliffs, all the enemies are just a well-placed dash into a pit of doom to deal with. Death Bringer is the ultimate. Big, powerful, and he has two immortal skeletons to work with. Same strategy as before, keep those skellies off you. Move a LOT and use magic at the start to keep yourself in a strong position. Once you’ve KO’d those boney bastards, then move in with the dashes to the Bringer. He’s just a bigger, badder version of Death Adder with more intense magic, so some slight adjustment will see victory in the end.
And that’s it, you have obtained the proverbial Golden Axe, congratulations!