Golden Axe 3 was the end of an era as it marked the last episode of the series proper until the release of Golden Axe: Beast Master in 2008. Sadly, it didn’t go out with quite as much of a bang as it deserved. After all, the original Golden Axe was the first game I owned for my Genesis, and it would seem like by the time they got to part three it should be leaps and bounds above the original, right? Interestingly, it never made its way stateside on cartridge, but only on the Sega Channel, which I was not privy to being a subscriber to. After playing this iOS port, I’d say it wasn’t a total loss.
The biggest problem I have with part three is that there wasn’t much of a noticeable difference between the original up through this second sequel. Sure it’s a bit flashier and there are now four playable characters, but when you even compare the growth of this series to its urban counterpart Streets Of Rage, it pales in comparison. On the plus side, it plays quite nicely on my iPod Touch 4G. It also looks better than the first two installments, though the color palettes are still atrocious. At least the character designs are better and more defined. The music is still the same wonderful chip tunes that permeated the series, and the sound effects are still pretty bad.
Game play is still pretty much the same, though you can actually get health and magic refills during the levels instead of having to wait until the end now. There are also a couple opportunities where you can pick between two paths, and at least one instance where you’re fighting aboard a moving platform, two features which I believe were new to this iteration of the series. Still, minor enhancements aside, this game falls more under the concept of “level pack” than an actual new game. It just goes to show how spoiled we’ve gotten over the years.
Part one was fun just for the sake of reminiscing, and part two was enjoyable because it felt like a nice step up from part one (plus the port was much more playable than the first outing). With this sequel, however, I’d only recommend it to three groups of people: die hard fans, hardcore nostalgia buffs (not necessarily fans of Golden Axe itself), and those that are curious about the series and haven’t tried the others. Everyone else has probably either had their fill or won’t be interested when you compare it to more recent offerings.