Who, who would frequent this page, hasn't played Golden Axe? Back in the day, we actually planned Cub Scout pizza parties at a particular Pizza Hut solely because they had a Golden Axe machine in tow. That and they always had a wicked awesome snow hill outside when they shoveled the lot. Still, when compared to the utter majesty of the arcade incarnation, this version has a few weak points. When compared to the 16-bit version, however, there is little room for improvement!
In the terrifying scenario in which someone reading this hasn't played the game, you have your choice of three warriors with which to battle the forces of evil and save the world from destruction. You can choose from a barbarian, a dwarf with the obligatory axe, or a female barbarian. To be honest, I never played as that character, nor can I recall any of my friends. Does that make me a sexist bastard? Oh well. Unfortunately, that issue isn't even raised in this version, as it has NO TWO PLAYER SUPPORT! I know, I can't believe it either!
The first level is pretty cut and dry, introducing you to the creatures you must destroy, working your way to the level boss. Aside hacking and slashing for all your barbarian's worth, you have at your disposal a special magic attack. Along your journey, you collect potions which charge your magic meter and beef up your attack. There is a fun mini game, usually between levels, where you find your hero sleeping, and little gnomes rob you of your magic; you wake up in time to beat the holy hell out of them and usually earn double the magic you lost. Okay, there's the basics.
Overall, this version is only minutely less polished than its Genesis counterpart. The spell look less impressive, but the graphics on a whole are pretty damn good nonetheless. Your characters are well animated and detailed. The scenery is also very nice. It does change every couple of levels at the minimum, so it never becomes overly repetitive. And I've nothing bad to say about the sound. Like I said earlier, SMS owners couldn't ask for a better version of Golden Axe, aside from the depressing one player aspect. Still, you couldn't get a more rewarding 8-bit experience without going to said Pizza Hut and experiencing this game on the arcade. If you have the means, however, what the hell are you doing playing this at home!?