Genre: Hack-‘N-Slash Developer: Sega of Japan Publisher: Sega of Japan Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
Back in 1993, I got all excited about this sequel to my favorite hack-n-slash when I saw some pics in a game magazine. I eagerly awaited its arrival but it never came out. Well, some games it seems, are better left unreleased. GA3 is a dreadful game that craps all over the good name of the series (what’s left of it anyway). Return of Death Adder, where are you??
This installment has you on a quest to retrieve the Golden Axe from the Prince of Darkness (original, isn’t it?) after having been rescued from a dreadful curse by… the dwarf? You must now save your companions from the effects of the curse by beating the snot out of them, so that they can all eventually just run off and leave you to complete your quest, all alone.
You get four characters to choose from: Amazon, barbarian, panther man, and a big gladiator-type brute. All play more or less the same, with the difference being the amount of damage dished out. The gladiator is slow but deals the most powerful blows, panther man is quickest but is also the weakest of the bunch, etc. Your energy is now displayed by a long health bar, as opposed to the individual bars from the previous games (Yeah! Leave the game play to rot over two sequels but change the health bar!).
You can bring (drag) a friend along in the two-player mode, through either normal or hard difficulty levels. The overall gameplay scheme used in the previous games hasn’t changed, which is both bad and good. While it’s nice that you can jump right into things and kick some ass without having to learn a control scheme, I’d have preferred a few combos or some buddy moves at least. The gameplay hasn’t progressed in this series at all, and it becomes tiresome rather quickly.
As you progress through the game, you get the option to choose your path. Although they all eventually lead to the same place, it’s nice that you don’t have to go through the same stages every time you play. When you finish or die, you’re shown a route screen that displays your progress and score (much like Outrun). The names of the stages you played are only shown here, so you can get an idea of what route you want to choose next time. Of course, this is assuming that you’ll actually go back and play it again.
There is a little interaction in the stages in that you can smash some barrels to retrieve magic bottles. The little gnomes return to steal from you as you sleep (you’d think they’d have learned by now) and to give up food and magic. The graphics are bland and uninspired, with a bare use of parallax. The backgrounds, though sometimes colorful, have very little detail. Your characters move very stiffly, which was a disappointment. Being the third in the series, I had hoped that the animation would haven been better than in the original . Moreover, there are only five enemies in the whole game. You fight tall skinny guy, short fat guy, a gladiatrix, and big knights with swords (they block your rush attack!); over and over again. Only their colors change. Even worse, the animals you can mount are downright awful. Be it the snail with legs (!) that whips out its tongue or the lizard that throws flame across the floor, you’re better off on foot. At least the skeletons make a return, even though they’re harder than some of the bosses.
The music is dull and of very poor quality. No tune is worth listening to, and you’ll quickly forget the music is on while you play. It’s that bad. There are some decent stereo effects when you use magic, and they at least removed the annoying “blahs” from part two. Sounds like clangs and crashes have been recycled from previous installments, but they’re also of lower sound quality.
None of this is as bad, however, as the horrendous magic effects. This is a downright travesty, honestly. Nothing is worse than saving up all your magic for the boss, only to see a few rocks or a wavy cloud (a cloud!) pass across the screen. Pathetic. I remember choosing Tyris Flare (the Amazon) in part one, just to see that badass dragon reign flaming death over my enemies. Well, the magic effects here aspire to be as good as those from part one that used only one bottle . Did I mention you can’t choose how much magic you use? Have one bottle or all of them, once you press that button, your wad is shot.
All in all, I can only recommend this game if you just have to have the complete trilogy or if a friend’s little brother trades it to you for a pack of Yugioh! cards. Aside from that, stay far, far away.
SCORE: 4 out of 10