Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Review Date: 8/1/15
I was super excited when I found out that Tyris Flare from "Golden Axe" was getting her own game, but critics loathed it and lackluster reviews kept me away. I was also afraid of being disappointed, as Tyris was one of my favorite classic video game characters. Several years later, I finally decided to pick up a cheap copy of the game and check it out, and it's just as bad as I feared.
The game starts with Tyris Flare's clan of dragon worshipping women warriors being slain by Death Adder and his army of thugs. Tyris swears vengeance and takes the fight back to Death Adder by slicing and dicing her way through his endless supply of bloodthirsty soldiers. She learns some magic along the way and also learns how to ride various beasts that show up in the game. Unfortunately, the execution is average at best. It's an overly linear game that simply moves from one tiny arena to the next, and Tyris's movement is highly restricted. My favorite review noted that the game "has more invisible walls than a mime convention." Combat is difficult and has a heavy bias towards defensive maneuvers. If you don't master the art of evade, parry, and counter, you will die extremely quickly. Enemies tend to attack in groups, so Tyris becomes quickly and easily overwhelmed, regardless of what tactics you employ. After the tutorial mission, the game's difficulty ramps up considerably, to the point where it becomes unplayable. I only lasted about an hour before I gave up in frustration. Now, keep in mind that the original "Golden Axe" wasn't easy, either, but at least it was fun to play, and that's what kept me coming back to it. "Beast Rider" offers no such enjoyment, so I completely lost any motivation to revisit it.
Production wise, the game is merely average. The bland environments are marginally attractive, but they quickly lose their charm due to repetition and the inability to explore. Tyris herself is unattractive and pretty embarrassing. The designers attempted to inject sex appeal into the game by putting her in a pair of hideous looking low riding bell bottom pants, which had a brief stint of popularity back in the late 1990's and early 2000's. This seems to fall in line with similarly bad female oriented action games like "X-Blades" and "Blades Of Time." In addition to constantly staring at Tyris's ass crack, the game is also soaked in blood and nudity to ensure its "M" rating. By far the best aspect of the game is the music, which consists of strong jungle beats and aggressive percussion. It's disappointing to see the "Golden Axe" legacy end up like this, and overall it feels like a lazy attempt to cash in on a franchise brand name. Another black eye for Sega's once great reputation.