Just like SVC: Streets of Rage, the game-selection menu impresses with polygonal recreation of all three games’ hardware. Visual options include three different widescreen borders per game, several ways to stretch the display, a blurring filter, scan lines, and more. Controls can be customized separately for all three games (including five different rapid fire settings). Finally, a full jukebox offers access to the series’ mostly memorable and catchy tunes.
As classic beat-em-ups, the Golden Axe games lack specific co-op moves or mechanics, though they’re still much more exciting with a friend. Friendly fire can’t be turned off, unfortunately. The Sega Vintage Collection does offer the ability to create and load save states even in co-op, making it easier for less-skilled players to reach the end of Golden Axe 2 and 3 (1 has unlimited continues). One big disappointment: only the first player can earn Achievements. On the other hand, you can get all 400 GamerScore in just two hours or so, thus running through the games again to help your partner isn’t a huge time investment.
Golden Axe III
SVC: Golden Axe’s online mode allows you to play solo while waiting for a second player to join, just like Streets of Rage. Definitely a cool feature, though online was simply a ghost town when I tried waiting for partners on a Saturday afternoon. We don’t get the option to host a match for any of the three games – you have to pick one and then hope someone searches for that particular game, fragmenting the matchmaking more than necessary. Like other XBLA games with small user bases, the online mode will probably be restricted to playing with friends due to scarcity of players.
As a Golden Axe fan, I jumped at the opportunity to play through all three numbered games in a single collection. Sega Vintage Collection: Golden Axe is simply a fantastic way to experience SEGA’s beloved fantasy brawlers. The excellent interface, display, and control options far surpass those of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. Still, people who own that disc and aren’t concerned with online play, extras and Achievements can safely skip this collection. But I for one couldn’t resist all of those features and the convenience of playing from the hard drive. If you like beat-em-ups and haven’t tried Golden Axe yet, don’t hesitate to give SVC: Golden Axe a download.
The Co-Op Experience: Take on the forces of evil with a friend in two player local and online co-op! Just watch out for your partner as friendly fire can't be disabled.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.