Golden Axe II is a side-scrolling arcade-style (it was not actually released on arcade machines) hack ‘n’ slash game, very similar to the first Golden Axe. The player is given a choice of three fighters: an axe-wielding dwarf, Gilius Thunderhead; a barbarian; Ax Battler, wielding a two-handed sword; and long-sword–wielding amazon Tyris Flare. Each of the fighters has a unique magic which can be used at any time in the game to inflict damage upon enemies. Each player is given a set of life bars which are lost one by one if the player is hit.
Though the characters and gameplay were virtually unchanged from the first game, there were a few improvements. The “back attack” (performed by pressing the Jump and Attack buttons simultaneously) for each character was changed to a more useful attack that hit enemies on all sides. Enemies could now be thrown in either direction by pressing right or left on the D-pad immediately after picking them up, making it easier to hit other enemies with them or throw them off cliffs. Most importantly, the magic system was overhauled. Whereas in the first game, pressing the magic button used all of a player’s magic pots, one could now use part or all of one’s magic by holding the button and releasing it when the meter had reached the desired level. The magic was also changed – Ax Battler’s exploding magic from the first game was replaced with wind magic, and Gilius Thunderhead now used rock magic instead of lightning. Tyris Flare retained her fire magic, but was still given entirely new animations for it. Ax Battler now has longer reach with his weapon than Tyris (in the first Golden Axe, Ax Battler and Tyris had identical reach), and can throw enemies higher and farther. Finally, there were small cosmetic changes in the form of a shoulder guard for Ax Battler and black gauntlets for Gilius Thunderhead.
There are two types of game modes. One is “The Duel”, where players are pitted against enemies in one arena, battling one after the other and gradually getting more difficult. The other is normal mode, where players must navigate through different areas battling various enemies.
Between each level a rating is awarded to the player(s) based on their performance, with a final rating awarded at the end of the game. A small exposition of the main story is also given.
Cheats, Hints and Tips
Hold A + B + C and press Start at the introduction screen. Release B and C, but continue to hold A during the remainder of this code sequence. Highlight the “Option” selection and press B + C. Highlight the “Exit” selection and press B + C. Highlight your choice for the number of players and press B + C. Highlight the “Normal” game mode and press B + C. Highlight a character and press Up + B + C + Start. A number that corresponds to the starting level will appear. Release the A button. Press A or B to change the starting level and press Start to begin game play.
Highlight the “Options” selection on the title screen, hold A + B + C, and press Start. Release A, but keep B and C pressed. Select the game options, including normal game mode, and exit the options menu. Eight credits should be available on the player selection screen.
Enter the options menu and select the “Special Magic” option. Begin game play and Hold A when the music for the Bosses on levels 1 to 4 begins to play. Defeat the Boss while holding A. Release the button when the screen turns black and your character is transported to the bonus level. Do not press any buttons or move the D-pad. When the next level begins, player one will cast a spell that will increase the magic points to 255. Note: Do not use more magic points that what your character normally is allowed to use. Doing so will freeze the game.