Golden Axe

From Sega Retro

For the home computer versions, see Golden Axe (home computers).

GoldenAxe Title.png
Golden Axe
GoldenAxe iOS icon.png
Publisher: Sega, CD-ROM² System/Super CD-ROM² System Telenet Japan WonderSwan Bandai
System(s): Sega System 16, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System, iOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Network, CD-ROM², Virtual Console, WonderSwan Color, Xbox Live Arcade, Steam
ROM size: Sega Mega Drive 512kB Sega Master System 512kB
Genre: Action

Number of players: 1-2
Release Date RRP Code
Arcade JP 1989-05 [1] ¥?  ?
Arcade US 1989 $?  ?
Arcade EU 1989 £?  ?
Sega Mega Drive JP 1989-12-23 ¥6000 G-4018
Sega Mega Drive US 1989 $
Sega Mega Drive US (Classic) 1992 $? 1106C
Sega Mega Drive EU 1990-11 £34.99
Sega Mega Drive AU 199x $?  ?
Sega Mega Drive BR 1990 R$?  ?
Sega Mega Drive KR 199x ₩? GM4005JG
Sega Master System US 1989 $? 9004
Sega Master System EU 1989 £29.99 [2]Media:ACE UK 33.pdf 9004
Sega Master System BR 19xx $? 028060
Sega Master System KR 19xx ₩?  ?
CD-ROM² System/Super CD-ROM² System JP 1990-03 ¥? TJCD0005
WonderSwan JP 2001 ¥5,040 with tax  ?
iOS JP 2009 ¥?  ?
iOS US 2009 $?  ?
iOS EU 2009 £?  ?

Virtual Console JP 2006-12-02 600 points  ?
Virtual Console US 2006-11-28 800 points  ?
Virtual Console EU 2006-12-08 800 points  ?
Virtual Console AU 2006-12-07 800 points  ?
Virtual Console JP (Arcade) 2009-06-23 800 points  ?
Virtual Console US (Arcade) 2009-10-26 900 points  ?
Virtual Console EU (Arcade) 2009-09-18 900 points  ?

Xbox Live Arcade JP 2007-07-11 400pts ¥?  ?
Xbox Live Arcade US 2007-07-11 400pts $?  ?
Xbox Live Arcade EU 2007-07-11 400pts £? €?  ?
Xbox Live Arcade AU 2007-07-11  ?pts $?  ?

Steam US 2010-06-01 $2.99  ?
Steam EU 2010-06-01 £1.99 €?  ?

PlayStation Network JP 2011-07-28 ¥571  ?
PlayStation Network US 2011-07-26 $4.99  ?
PlayStation Network EU 2011-07-20 £? €?  ?

Golden Axe (ゴールデンアックス) is a beat-'em-up developed by Sega and released in 1989 for Sega System 16 arcade hardware. The development team was headded by Makoto Uchida, who also led the team behind Altered Beast.

The game was the first in the long-running Golden Axe series. It is said to be heavily inspired by the Conan the Barbarian films, and that the game took roughly one year to make.


The game place takes in the fictional land of Yuria, in which an evil entity known as Death Adder has kidnapped Yuria's King and his daughter, holding them captive in his castle. Perhaps more importantly, Death Adder has stolen the "Golden Axe", a magical emblem of Yuria, and is threatening to destroy it if the people of the land do not accept him as their ruler.

It is up to a band of three heroes to venture to Death Adder's castle and stop him, rescuing the captives, avenge their losses and save the land:

Ax Battler, a male barbarian fighting to avenge the murder of his mother. Despite his name he uses a two handed broadsword and carries earth magic. Ax Battler is one of the constants of the series, appearing in most Golden Axe games (including Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe, a game based entirely around him).

Tyris Flare, an amazonian woman whose parents were killed by Death Adder. She also uses a sword but carries fire magic.

Gilius Thunderhead, a dwarf whose brother was murdered by Death Adder. Gilius is the only character to actually carry an axe, as well as thunder magic.


Golden Axe supports a maximum of two players. Any character can be selected but both players cannot play as the same character.

The Golden Axe arcade cabinet assigns one button for attacking, another for jumping and a final button for using magic. Using magic will cause all of the enemies on screen to be damaged and effectively acts as crowd control. Each player carries a limited supply of magic (indicated by a meter at the top of the screen) and will use it all at once when the magic button is pressed. More magic can be collected by attacking the short thieves clothed in blue who appear at certain points throughout the game. Green thieves carry life energy, also represented in the HUD.

Golden Axe is also notable for its ability to allow players to ride "beasts", often giving them an offensive advantage at the expense of speed.

Similar to Altered Beast, the ending is less serious and has characters from the game breaking out of the arcade machine and causing havoc in the real world. Most ports replace this ending.

Playable Characters

{{{imagewidths}}} Ax-Battler
{{{imagewidths}}} Gilius-Thunderhead
{{{imagewidths}}} Tyris-Flare


GoldenAxe System16 US Stage1.png Stage 1 - Wilderness
GoldenAxe System16 US Stage2.png Bonus Stage 1
GoldenAxe System16 US Stage3.png Stage 2 - Turtle Village
GoldenAxe System16 US Stage4.png Bonus Stage 2
GoldenAxe System16 US Stage5.png Stage 3
GoldenAxe System16 US Stage6.png Bonus Stage 3
GoldenAxe System16 US Stage7.png Stage 4 - Fiend's Path
GoldenAxe System16 US Stage8.png Bonus Stage 4
GoldenAxe System16 US Stage9.png Stage 5 - Death Adder's Castle
GoldenAxe MD US Stage6.png Stage 6 - The Palace Gates
The Mega Drive version of the game adds three more levels. This is the first, which is part of stage 5 in the arcade version.
GoldenAxe MD US Stage7.png Stage 7 - The Dungeon
Also a Mega Drive exclusive.
GoldenAxe MD US Stage8.png Stage 8 - The Battle with Death Adder
Also a Mega Drive exclusive.

Sequels and Re-releases

Golden Axe has been ported to a number of systems over the years, though many cuts were made in the process.

The game has enjoyed many years of success on the Sega Mega Drive, and was used in the early days of the console to advertise the system's power over its then-main rival, the Nintendo Entertainment System. Some levels were shortened, but an extra level was added which includes another boss, "Doom Bringer". Also in this version is a "duel" mode, which allows players to fight a succession of enemies one-on-one.

The Mega Drive version of the game has been included in numerous compilations, such as 6-Pak, Mega Games 2, Mega Games 6 and Mega Games 10. The game has also been emulated and sold in the form of Sega Smash Pack Volume 1, Sega Smash Pack, Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, Sega Archives from USA Vol. 1 and Sega Mega Drive Classic Collection Volume 1, as well as services such as PlaySega and built-in to numerous consoles by AtGames.

This version was so popular that it got direct sequels in the form of Golden Axe II and Golden Axe III. In the arcades, the "true" sequel is Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder. A Sega Mega-Tech version also exists, which is based on the Mega Drive version, as is the version released for the Wii's Virtual Console service.

The Mega Drive Golden Axe was enhanced for the Sega Mega-CD and delivered as part of Sega Classics Arcade Collection. This version is single-player only, though offers numerous improvements in terms of audio and some graphical tweaks.

The Sega Master System version is also one-player only, forcing you to play as Ax Battler (named "Tarik"). Similar is the CD-ROM² port, which takes a big hit in terms of aesthetics and is only single-player. It was also ported to the WonderSwan Color and as part of Sega Smash Pack for the Game Boy Advance.

Golden Axe was also remade as part of Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 5: Golden Axe, and has been brought to Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network and is available for iOS and other mobile devices.

Production Credits

Mega Drive Version

Software Design: Takosuke, Moto CBX1000, Ham Tak, Waka
Visual Effects: Kyonsy Kyonsy, Cane, Chisuke, Roco
Sound: Nankyoku, Decky, Imocky
Assistant Programmer: S2, Yang Watt, Vinyl Boy
Producer: Kan
Director: Bros 400
Assistant Director: Opa‑Opa
English Messages: Niya, Tsugu
Arcade Game Design: Team Shinobi
Presented by: Sega

Promotional Material

Digital manuals

Physical Scans

System 16 Version

Arcade 86 Sega Retro Average 
Based on 3 reviews
Publication Score Source
Commodore User 89 №69, p96/97
Computer & Video Games 80 №93, p89
CU Amiga-64 89 №69, p96-97
System 16, US
GoldenAxe System16 US Marquee.jpg
System 16, JP
Goldenaxe instructions.jpg

Mega Drive Version

Sega Mega Drive 87 Sega Retro Average 
Based on 21 reviews
Publication Score Source
ASM ­† 75
Complete Guide to Consoles 96 №2, p100/101
Complete Guide to Consoles 94 №4, p30
Computer & Video Games 95 №101, p98/99
Weekly Famitsu 78
The Games Machine (UK) 92 №28, p30/31
Joystick 90 №5, p58
Mega Drive Advanced Gaming 86 №3, p78
Mega Action 85 №1, p64
MegaTech 94 №1, p78Media:Megatech UK 01.pdf
Mean Machines 91 №1, p42-44Media:MeanMachines UK 01.pdf
MicroManía 90
Player One 93 №3, p38/39
Power Play 76
Raze 92 №3, p62/63
Sega Power 82 №13, p20/21
Sega Power 80 №23, p53
Sega Pro 91 №3, p41Media:Segapro UK 03.pdf
Sega Pro 72 №18, p65
Tilt 85
Zero 94 №6, p74
Mega Drive, US
GoldenAxe md us cover.jpg
GoldenAxe md us cart.jpg
GoldenAxe MD US Manual.pdf
Mega Drive, US (Sega Classic)
Goldenaxe md us classic cover.jpg
GoldenAxe md us cart.jpg
Mega Drive, EU
GoldenAxe md eu cover.jpg
Mega Drive, JP
GoldenAxe md jp cover.jpg
GoldenAxe MD JP CartTop.jpg
Goldenaxe md jp cart.jpg
Goldenaxe md jp manual.pdf
Mega Drive, AU
GoldenAxe MD AU cover.jpg
Mega Drive, BR
GoldenAxe MD BR Box.jpg
GoldenAxe MD BR Cart.jpg
Goldenaxe md br manual.pdf
Mega Drive, KR
GoldenAxe MD KR Box.jpg
GoldenAxe MD KR carttop.jpg
GoldenAxe MD KR cartback.jpgGoldenAxe MD KR cart.jpg
Mega Drive, CA
GoldenAxe MD CA Box.jpg

Master System Version

Sega Master System 84 Sega Retro Average 
Based on 17 reviews
Publication Score Source
ACE 89 №33, p63Media:ACE UK 33.pdf
AllGame 90 AllGame
Complete Guide to Consoles 92 №2, p28/29
Complete Guide to Consoles 92 №4, p98
Computer & Video Games 89 №100, p90/91
The Games Machine (UK) 80 №32, p51
Joystick 90 №4, p40
MicroManía 80 №2/25
Player One 85 №1, p46/47
S: The Sega Magazine 88 №4
Sega Power 75 №16, p44
Sega Power 80 №23, p57
Sega Power 76 №25, p40
Sega Pro 81 №3, p19Media:Segapro UK 03.pdf
Sega Pro 74 №13, p24/25
Tilt 80
Zero 85 №6, p75
Master System, US
Golden Axe SMS US Box.jpg
Goldenaxe sms us manual.pdf
Master System, EU
Golden Axe SMS EU Box.jpg
Master System, AU

GoldenAxe SMS AU Cart.jpg
Master System, BR
Golden Axe SMS BR Box.jpg
GoldenAxe SMS BR Cart.jpg
Master System, BR (cardboard)
Golden Axe SMS BR Cardboard Box.jpg
Golden Axe SMS BR Cardboard Cart.jpg
GoldenAxe SMS BR Manual.pdf
Master System, KR

Goldenaxe SMS kr cart.jpg

CD-ROM² Version

CD-ROM² System/Super CD-ROM² System 65 Sega Retro Average 
Based on 1 review
Publication Score Source
Joystick 65 №6, p92
GoldenAxe CDROM2 JP Box Back.jpgGoldenAxe CDROM2 JP Box Front.jpg
GoldenAxe CDROM2 JP Spinecard.jpg
Golden Axe PCE CD-ROM2 JP CD.png
Golden Axe PCE CD-ROM2 JP Manual.PDF

WonderSwan Color Version

WonderSwan, JP
Golden Axe Wonderswan JP Top.png
GoldenAxe WSC JP Box Back.jpgGolden Axe Wonderswan JP Spine.jpgGoldenAxe WSC JP Box Front.jpgGolden Axe Wonderswan JP Spine2.jpg
Golden Axe Wonderswan JP Bottom.png
Golden Axe Wonderswan JP Card Back.jpgGoldenAxe WSC JP Cart.jpg
Golden Axe Wonderswan JP Manual.pdf

Mega-Tech version


GoldenAxe MT Cart.jpg

External Links

Golden Axe series of games
Arcade Golden Axe (1989) | Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder (1992) | Golden Axe: The Duel (1994) | Golden Axe (slot machine) (2010)
Sega Mega Drive Golden Axe (1989) | Golden Axe II (1991) | Golden Axe III (1993)
Sega Master System Golden Axe (1990) | Golden Axe Warrior (1991)
Sega Game Gear Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe (1991)
Sega Saturn Golden Axe: The Duel (1995)
Sony PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Golden Axe: Beast Rider (2008)