Sunday, June 5, 2011
The Legendary Axe
I've wanted to review Legendary Axe for years, but i've always had the hope that Hudson would release both games in the series on the VC. While this certainly remains a possibility, I can't wait any longer. Legendary Axe must be reviewed because it's simply one of the best platformers of the generation. The Bonk and Mario games are fun, but a lot of the fun comes from how easy those games are. Legendary Axe subscribes to the arcade school of gameplay, and forces the player to truly master the game to progress past the 3rd stage.
Unlike Bonk's cartoony graphics, Legendary Axe has a realistic feel, and the TG-16 can handle the giant sprites and brilliant colors easily. As a caveman, you fight caveman enemies: traditional bats and spiders, but also bears, giant boulders (the stage 2 boss, and a difficult one), rock-people, and other mythic enemies.
The combat depths comes from a simple, but fun mechanic: you collect power-ups to make your axe stronger. To get maximum power, you have to wait between axe strokes. The stronger your axe is, the longer the player must wait. Well-timed strong hits are the way to go, but every now and then you might want to spam the attack button. Usually, however, spamming attack does little to help and gets you killed.
Thankfully, checkpoints exist within the level, and the player has a few continues to spare (3 continues x 3 lives = 9 total lives). Infinite continues might have been nice, but it remains rewarding to replay the early stages with easy, and the developers found a nice balance with 3 extra credits. I guess the idea in the design meeting went something like, "Yea, it's like you're in the arcade. You only got one dollar to beat the game." Which, at the time, probably made sense. Great players will beat a game in 1 life, 9 almost seems excessive.
The player is provided with the option to quit aat a Game Over, instead of using a credit to continue. This can be to the player's advantage: replaying the early stages will allow the player to tackle the later areas with a stronger axe. You keep your axe power upon dying, but not upon a Game Over. So beating the game in 3 lives should be the serious player's first goal after beating the game with continues.
As I've said several times in the past, Hudson: get off your ass and release this game on the VC. Release both Legendary Axe games, please. Literally hundreds of billions of TG-16 gamers have 12 dollars for you, and that's over a trillion dollars. The Legendary Axe games are simply the very best platformers on the TG-16; it's a pain to see them unreleased on the VC.