Golden Axe: Beast Rider review

  • Beasts to ride
  • Metal bra
  • Color-coded attacks
  • Repetitive action
  • Dated graphics
  • Shoehorns in old mechanics

Pretend God of War hasn’t happened. Pretend you’ve never heard of Devil May Cry – this has the bonus side effect that you can squint at the box all over again, and think: “Don’t they mean Devil May Care?” for the first time, just like you did in 2001. Now go back further, to 1989, and pretend you’re enjoying Golden Axe for the first time.

Now come back, and try to make sense of Beast Rider. It’s not retro - the graphics don’t have enough style for that - they’re just dated. The washed-out green-grey opening levels last for far too long. There’s a misguided sense of loyalty to the original game, too. They try to force as much of the classic Golden Axe stuff – gnome thieves, beasts, potions – into the game, and never pay much attention to whether it’s fun or not. Plus, they’ve gotten rid of the multiplayer. Even Golden Axe can’t seriously ignore that it’s 2008, so you fight with a mixture of light and heavy attacks, and use magic when you’re in a sticky pickle.

The combo system isn’t developed enough to make you feel like you’re doing anything spectacular, so the only real innovation is the colored attacks of your opponents. Weak green attacks can be parried or evaded with a tap of either shoulder button. Orange overhead attacks have to be evaded with the left, blue swiping attacks parried with the right. If you see a red attack, there’s no cause for alarm, just jump out of the way. It’s simple and difficult in a way that’s initially entertaining, but it’s shallow; and every monster uses the same style. You’ve got no reason to look at anything except the next flash of color and can easily slip into an unfocused meditative nowhere. You barely notice that you’re chopping people in half.

You ride beasts, too, giving you access to a couple of special moves, and if you find an armored beast, you’ve got about a minute of immunity in which you can run around, pouncing, and never quite feeling in control. These beasts are treated like a temporary bonus – they die quickly – so they could have tried to make them feel more fun. Which is a fair summary of the entire game.

Oct 22, 2008

More Info

Release date: Oct 14 2008 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: Sega
Developed by: Secret Level
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Language, Partial Nudity, Violence
PEGI Rating:


  • shanewales18 - April 27, 2009 4:42 p.m.

    but it looks good
  • ashleyjoc - October 23, 2008 11:46 a.m.

    I honestly was about to give this game a chance, but reviews of late have turned up negative. :(
  • oreomonkey - October 24, 2008 2:03 a.m.

    wow worst score ive ever seen on gr
  • joabbuac - November 4, 2008 6:36 a.m.

    worked with fallout
  • allhailtheFSM - November 13, 2008 6:26 a.m.

    Those graphics look like they came straight from Morrowind haha.
  • curtw_819 - October 23, 2008 3:58 p.m.

    dam i thuoght this game was goin to be at least half-way decent.... guess i was wrong
  • joabbuac - October 23, 2008 4:49 p.m.

    I was hoping this would be good, I loved Golden Axe
  • GoldenMe - October 24, 2008 10:08 p.m.

    Not the worst score, there have been many #2 and only 2 #1. I don't think I've seen a #3 score anywhere. Anyways, I knew this game wasn't going to be good. You can't take a formula like Golden Axe and try to beef it up to 2008 standards. It barely never works.
  • meluigi - November 15, 2008 8:20 p.m.

    I was going to rent this but now it might not be my first choce

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