If you’ve played Golden Axe 2 then you will no doubt be aware that it’s a little too similar to its predecessor. When Sega came to create the third game in the Megadrive trilogy it obviously realized that a sweeping change was in order. Sadly, too much has been changed and ultimately Golden Axe 3 represents a step back rather than an advancement.
Golden Axe 3 is a bit of a mess, in all honesty. Although it has much to recommend - such as a nice range of playable characters, a deeper combat system with more moves and a neat branching level design - the game is plagued by some near-fatal issues.
Although each character now has a better arsenal of attacks at their disposal, taking out enemy fighters is often a matter of luck more than anything else. Collision detection is disappointingly inconsistent and this problem is amplified by the fact that many opponents have unavoidable attacks (mainly the bosses). Many of the encounters are therefore tremendously frustrating.
Level design is quite varied but generally uninspiring; there are loads of stages to explore but sadly Golden Axe 3 lacks much of the charm that made the first (and to some extent, the second) game so enjoyable. Character design is generally pretty goofy, with some dumpy-looking enemy sprites possessing all the menace of a shaved poodle. The music is a bit of a mixed bag with some of the tracks being markedly better than others, but there’s nothing here that will stick in your memory.
Ultimately Golden Axe 3 is a brave attempt to revitalize the series after the underwhelming second game. Sadly it doesn’t quite pull it off. Sega would have been better off converting the second arcade game (which is called Revenge of Death Adder and is totally different from the second Megadrive release) rather than producing this.