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Usually, when a project is dredged from the depths of a developer's library and given a lick of paint for the release it deserved, it is met with a warm welcome. Yet, with Golden Axed, this sadly isn't the case.
The game has been sent out into the wilds to celebrate SEGA's 60th anniversary. The occasion has been marked with retro art, giveaways, discounts, and streams of exclusive interviews and let's plays, and the latest offering comprises four games that are limited-time downloads. These are Armor of Heroes, Endless Zone, Streets of Kamurocho, and Golden Axed, and all are available on Steam until October 19th.
It is the last of the quartet that has caused controversy among the members of the team that worked on the original title. According to former SEGA employee Tim Dawson, the project commenced in 2012, and it was intended to be an augmentation upon SEGA's Castle of Illusion prototype. This prototype had enabled the developer to tread water in precarious times, and as a result, management were keen to capitalise on the buzz.
Dawson and the rest of the team took forward the concept of a "darker, bloodier Golden Axe," as per their instruction, and attempted to marry this mandate with the "spirit" of the original Golden Axe. "This would have been a difficult line to walk at any time but we had two weeks and no time to iterate," said Dawson, and stated that their efforts were undertaken in crunch conditions. "So we made do, just really attacked the design knowing we wouldn't be able to course correct much, but luckily we had a talented team of artists, animators and sound designers."
Describing difficult encounters with the lead designer, harrowing fourteen-hour work days, and physical injury from developing this game, Dawson recounted what happened when the build of Golden Axe that they had worked so hard on was presented to management. "There was a pause," he said. "'where's the wow factor' someone asked. The lead designer once again complained it wasn't a God of War-like 3D brawler like he wanted. Someone said maybe it'd have been better to have made a prerendered video where the barbarian fought a monster."
Now, to see Golden Axed released as a "tongue-in-cheek" celebration of SEGA's dedication to the original concept, Dawson isn't happy in the slightest. It is notable that the game's Steam page has been altered: the first version read "Golden Axed may be janky, may be buggy, may be an artifact of its time, but it offers a unique glimpse into the prospect of a project that could have been, and a rare peek behind the curtain at the sometimes tumultuous world of video game development."
That now reads: "Golden Axed offers a unique glimpse into the prospect of a project that could have been, and a rare peek behind the curtain at the sometimes tumultuous world of video game development." Apparently, SEGA did contact other Golden Axe developers before releasing the game, and that these people are "proud" that it has gotten a second chance. Still, it's a blot on the game's legacy, when it should have been a united celebration of a team's hard work.
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