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Virgin Games Ltd
Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Garth Sumpter
Chris Bourne

Who's the meanest, most feared and despised being in the Universe then? Paul Daniels? No. Margaret Thatcher? Not even close. It's actually Death Adder the parliamentary candidate for Yuria. And why's that? It's because he's gone and kidnapped the King of Yuria and his daughter and looks as if he could be heading for a landslide victory at the election. If he even bothers to have one!

This is where you come in. You must get to Death Adder who's campaign headquarters are located deep within his castle and his whole army of goblins, skeletons, black nights, ogres and giant swordsmen stand in the way of you casting the final vote against Death Adder in Virgin's latest release Golden Axe. Hey, the price of democracy these days!

Golden Axe from Sega was possibly one of the best coin ops of the last two years which has seen licensed conversions made to the Master System and MegaDrive where it is currently the official number one game. It will soon be making it's way from consoles to computers with the sixteen and eight bit launch just around the corner. Therefore it is annoying that with the level of success that the game has attained, that the Spectrum version falls short of fulfilling its full potential.

It is a faithful reproduction of the coin op though, with up to two players selecting one of three characters; Ax=Battler the barbarian, Gillius=Thunderhead the head butting dwarf and Thyris=Flare, the high-kicking woman fighter.

Each of these colourful characters has limited proficiency with magic. You must collect potions as you go by kicking in the annoying little pixies to make them drop the bottles. You can even pick up food on occasion and gain back lost energy.

You must fight your way through various load-in levels to confront the dreaded Death. Along the way you can even knock goblins off their dragon mounts and ride them yourself.

All sounds pretty good eh? it's a crying shame about the graphics and the gameplay though. The speed of play is very fast - faster than the original product on either arcade or Megadrive, and this makes precise control difficult and the masks used for the characters, stand out against some backgrounds.

If it wasn't for the fact that Golden Axe is such a brilliant arcade game, there would be little criticism to make on what is a good representation of the game. Unfortunately, when the gameplay's difficulty is this noticable, there has to be losses. Golden Axe is one such disappointment.

Label: Virgin
Price: £9.99/£14.99
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter

An average conversion of a superlative coin-op that is marred by tricky control.