Golden Axe: Beast Rider

At Sega’s gamer’s day soiree on Wednesday we got to see a whole slew of games in rapid succession, sometimes getting a hands-on, and sometimes just sitting back and watching someone else play (always the best way to experience a game- that was sarcasm, by the way). Golden Axe: Beast Rider, unfortunately, was not a hands-on. A chance to sever limbs ourselves may have changed our general sense of being underwhelmed, although for the better or worse it’s hard to say.

Beast Rider is intended to capture the spirit of the original Golden Axe, and if they mean shallow, arcadey hack-and-slashery, well they’ve probably succeeded. Of course, we didn’t see enough to say for sure if the game presents greater depth as you play it, but what we saw was fairly basic. The viewpoint is standard behind-the-character third-person view, although not shoved in behind the shoulder as is so trendy these days. We were treated to an embarrassingly obvious and gratuitous camera angle in a cutscene, where the view panned up the heroine’s ass in creepy elevator-eyes fashion.

Taking a page from Heavenly Sword, the protagonist is a lithe, yet shapely red-haired warrioress, replete with sorta-there skin hugging attire and acrobatic foe-dispatching. The animations for the various combos and finishing moves looked pretty badass - limbs flew off like veggies on a cutting board, although carrots usually don’t gurgle and spray fountains of blood. It wasn’t uncommon for enemies to be left armless and headless, stumbling about for a bit and making rather visceral splatting and choking sounds. At one point, our heroine tossed a baddie into the air before chopping him in half at the waist, sending the remaining halves hurtling away.

Hoping to avoid the ever-present threat of mindless button mashing that all slashers face, the combat utilizes a “parry and evade” system instead of a block button that you hold down. Parrying naturally involves timed button-taps to block each individual attack, while evading seemed to encompass both sidesteps (which allow for quick backstabs) and even just manually jumping over low swings- at least we thought that’s what our demo master was doing. It’s possible all forms of evasion come from a single button, but if not, it’s pretty cool to jump over sweep attacks.

Matthew Keast
My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.