Over the last year or so, it seems as if many publishers have finally got a handle on the retro revival. Namco gave us Pac-Man Championship Edition and Galaga Legions, both classic in style yet undeniably modern in construction. Capcom brought back a slew of their 1980s classics, with Commando, 1942, Bionic Commando and Mega Man all receiving good to great retro-styled modern sequels. And here comes SEGA - having got it so right with After Burner on the PSP - once again flailing around and looking hopelessly out of touch.
Golden Axe: Beast Rider is the sort of lazy, depressing remake that used to be the norm. It takes its name from a classic arcade game but everything else is generic and bland, a bargain basement facsimile of, for some reason, Heavenly Sword.
As in Sony's decent but forgettable romp, our heroine is a buxom flame-haired warrior, set loose in a button-mashing hackandslash environment to carve her way through hordes of enemies with a fabled magical weapon. You can summon up magical attacks, which are a pain to aim. You can throw the Golden Axe to hit switches and other items, but it's slow to aim. You can ride on a variety of beasts, but they're sluggish to control. In fact, it's hard to find a single aspect of the gameplay that hasn't been grossly mishandled in some vital way. Nothing here feels intuitive, inviting or even fun.