GOLDEN AXE: REVENGE OF DEATH ADDER / Sega / Arcade
Oh lawd, I love when companies ignore their own releases. Revenge of Death Adder is the true sequel to the first Golden Axe game, but the game that was released on the Genesis with the "Golden Axe II" title is a completely different game entirely. This one didn't seem to have a very big arcade release in the West and basically has become the forgotten member of the series.
The whole cast of the original game seems to be in retirement now, save Gillius Thunderhead, who is lazily riding on the back of some giant now in Master Blaster style. Aside from him you've got an Ax Battler/Conan-alike named Stern, a centaur chick with one of those pommel things from American Gladiators, and an annoying little git with a pitchfork. Death Adder is back in action doing his usual thing, sending out armies of stinky barbarians to hassle nuns and step on their heads. So off you go through five levels en route to his castle.
The game looks really nice - animation and detailed backgrounds were the main focus here. There's lots of little stuff going on in the backdrops like barbarians snoozing in a barracks or a conga line of nuns being whipped. Everything is very fluidly animated, especially your four main characters, and apparently the cabinets allowed for four people at a time to play. The music is passable Conan clone stuff and the sound work is pretty nice, with a lot of good slices, screams and thuds. The game also steps up to Sega's System 32 board, which incorporates some of the technology of the Super Scaler, so you get points where the background scrolls upward for a bit. And Stern's fire magic has a completely gratuitous "face melting" animation worthy of Master-D when you use it on human enemies:
The problem with the game is that the energy put into it seemed to be wholly directed at the visuals, while the gameplay was just kind of thrown together in the most generic manner possible. There's a fairly small selection of clone enemies that you keep facing throughout the game; not only do they never really get tougher or more numerous, they keep using the same attack patterns over and over. Unfortunately, this also extends to the bosses. You see the same handful of guys again and again (fat twin brothers, raging lesbian cavewomen, chubby ogre, etc.) and they all share the same lazy attack pattern which is very easy to overcome without taking a hit once you see how it works. Even Death Adder's first incarnation uses this same exact lazy pattern; he has a second form that switches it up a little bit simply by spamming magic constantly, but that's just as easy to neutralize by jumping over it. If it weren't for the ridiculously fast skeleton swordsmen that pop out here and there, there'd really be no challenge at all. And there's "branching paths", which basically means you get a choice of your level 2 and 4, but the content is all so samey it really doesn't bear a re-play.
In the end it's thus just pretty much a generic beat-em-up that feels disappointing when it winds up. There's some amusing little visual treats along the way, but that's really about it.
* Gameplay Video