When I first clapped eyes on Golden Axe 2 as a lad I was over the moon. Being a massive fan of the original I simply could not wait to play this. Graphically, it looked even better than the original and promised to be the sequel I was waiting for. Sadly, it actually turned out to be a disappointingly lazy update by Sega.
The core gameplay remains entirely unchanged aside from a few tweaks to the moves available to each character. The speed of attacks has been increased slightly, which makes your fighter a little more agile. Also, you can decide which direction to throw an opponent in and hurled enemies will knock down other foes. This makes crowd control a lot easier than in the previous game.
The graphics are slightly better and although the complete audio package isn't up to the standard set by the original (the sound effects are terrible - most of them sound like someone farting in a bath), some of the tunes really are amazing (the opening levels background music remains one of my all-time favourite Megadrive themes).
Perhaps the only real change from the original game is the manner in which the magic system operates; now rather than using all your accumulated magic at once for one devasting blast you can now ration this out for lesser but more frequent magical attacks. Hardly an innovation, but it does make the use of magic a little more tactical.
It's a shame that Sega expected the general public to pay good money for a game they'd already played to death over a year beforehand, but Golden Axe II is still a worthy purchase for fans of the series. This sequel does lose some of the charm that the original had so if you are a newcomer to the series we recommend you start with the first game which is a better game all-round.