Golden Axe 3

  • Platform: Sega Megadrive
  • Wii Points: 800
  • In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 8

And here's an interesting counterpoint to Streets of Rage 3, another third entry in a scrolling Sega beat-em-up series but one that manages to add more stuff without really improving anything.

Golden Axe was always the sort of dumb cousin to the better side-scrolling fighters, and by the time this entry limped out it was clear that nothing was going to change that perception. So once again you choose a stock fantasy character - barbarian, dwarf, woman with enormous tits - and hackenslash your way through the stages.

Like Streets of Rage 3, there are more characters, more attacks and a shake-up in design - branching levels, in this case - yet it's clear that these elements were thrown in so they could be listed on the back of the box, not as part of any concerted attempt to actually evolve the game. The animation is basic, the graphics uninspired, while generic enemies line up to be twatted.

Like the prior Golden Axe games it's passable fluff, and amusing enough on the most basic retro level, but offers no compelling reason to choose this over any of the dozens of similar games already out there. It should come as no surprise that Sega couldn't even be arsed releasing the original cartridge outside of Japan.

6/10

Super Thunder Blade

  • Platform: Sega Megadrive
  • Wii Points: 800
  • In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 8

Pity the poor game chosen to launch with a console. Put together by developers still getting to grips with new hardware, such games are almost always doomed to riff on previously established ideas but with better graphics. That's certainly the case with Super Thunder Blade, a 1988 Megadrive launch title distinguishable from the Master System version only by its crudely digitised music, slightly better sprites and the word "Super" in front of the title.

stb

It's basically little more than a hurried reworking of Space Harrier, designed to seduce those 80s kids still enthralled by Airwolf and Blue Thunder, and the stuttering forwards scrolling and glitching scenery betray the commercial imperative behind the release. It's also ferociously hard, with enemies that fire enormous one-hit-kill orange projectiles en masse - often within seconds of your respawning.

Boss battles switch to a top-down view, where things actually work better, but for the most part you're stuck in a visibly slapped-together 3D shooting game that doesn't really work in 3D. As with Golden Axe, there are better options available.

4/10

Landstalker: The Treasure of King Nole

  • Platform: Sega Megadrive
  • Wii Points: 800
  • In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 8

Here's a curiosity piece - an RPG-style platform game that draws as much influence from the likes of Knight Lore as it does from Zelda. Created by Climax, the developer behind the Shining Force series, Landstalker has its fans - but it also has more than a few flaws as well.

land

Visually its more than adequate, aping the colourful pointy-eared Link style and filled with cute nods to other inspirations - the opening scene is a clear parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Our hero is a treasure hunter called Nigel (no, really) and an unplanned rendezvous with a nymph sets him of the trail of the greatest prize of all, the legendary stash of gold once belonging to King Nole.

The adventure elements are fairly crude though, with none of the depth or variety of Miyamoto's beloved fantasy series. Money is only really good for buying health items, while combat never really gets beyond mashing the same attack button over and over. It's the isometric view that really harms the game, though. Accurate jumping is almost impossible as nothing casts a shadow, and benign amusement is soon replaced by confusion and frustration as you're asked to perform increasingly impossible feats of 3D navigation despite not being sure where you're going to land.

It's a shame since there's quality in spades here but, with so many cool RPGs and adventures available on the VC now, this shouldn't be your first choice.

5/10

About the author

Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead

Senior Contributor, Eurogamer.net

Dan has been writing for Eurogamer since 2006 and specialises in RPGs, shooters and games for children. His bestest game ever is Julian Gollop's Chaos.

More articles by Dan Whitehead