Dubbed "Golden Axed" (see what they did there?), the game will be free to download on October 18th, and is based on the work of Sega's now-defunct Australian studio. The fact it's being released at all has come as quite a shock to the original developers, who had no idea Sega was planning to do this.
According to Tim Dawson, the main developer of the prototype, describes it as a "darker, bloodier Golden Axe, with splatter and decapitations and two-button combat" that aimed to remain true to the spirit of the original game but ultimately turned into something of a horror project coded "under crunch conditions." He says it became his "personal nexus of nightmare hours, inept management, industry realisations and heroics achieved with a small team under unreasonable conditions."
His Twitter thread on the topic is well worth a read, as he describes his constant battles with management and his disagreements with the lead designer, who apparently wanted a God of War-style game and not an arcade brawler. At one point, the lead even claimed that Golden Axe and Sega stablemate Streets of Rage "were the same game." Dawson concludes that: "They didn't want it. They wanted something else entirely."
Dawson – who would found Witch Beam Games with Mishra and produce Assault Android Cactus – also contests (warning: bad language) Sega's Steam page listing for the game, which, in all fairness, won't have been written by the same management who scuppered the project 8 years ago:
Golden Axed may be janky, may be buggy, may be an artifact of its time, but it offers a unique glimpse into the prospect of a project that could have been.
This may be something of a dark project for Dawson, but it's going to be interesting to see what he achieved when the game becomes free to download on the 18th; it will be for one day only, so be sure to pop it in your diary.
The original Golden Axe hit arcades back in the late '80s and spawned multiple sequels, including two which were exclusive to the Mega Drive. Its arcade follow-up – Revenge of Death Adder – is finally getting an official release this year, while Golden Axe: The Duel and Golden Axe: Beast Rider arguably failed to do the brand justice. Sega also tried to turn the series into an RPG with the likes of Golden Axe Warrior on the Master System and Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe on the Game Gear. As well as the Sega Australia prototype, another potential sequel was canned which would have resembled Vanillaware titles such as Odin Sphere and Muramasa.
Here's some more info, direct from Sega:
Armor of Heroes – Relic Entertainment™ – A retro-inspired multiplayer tank romp for up to four players in versus combat and couch co-op. Available from October 15-19.
Endless Zone – Amplitude Studios™ – The Endless universe and Fantasy Zone™ collide in this side-scrolling shoot 'em up. Available from October 16-19.
Streets of Kamurocho – SEGA® – Kiryu and Majima from SEGA's critically acclaimed Yakuza™ series are raging on the Streets of Kamurocho in a new, but familiar challenge. Available from October 17-19.
Golden Axed – SEGA® – A build of a never-before-seen glimpse at a canned project called Golden Axe™: Reborn. Available from October 18-19. So, just one day.