Developed and published by Jaleco in 1989
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The Astyanax is another game from arcade stalwart Jaleco that you may never have heard of before, and that’s something you ought to remedy; it’s really rather good. It’s closest relative is probably The Legendary Axe on the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16, undoubtedly a source of influence.
Our hero is armed with an axe, which charges up in power between attacks. Let the gauge fill completely, and powerful flame engulfs the head, dealing the maximum amount of damage when attacking. Letting the axe charge to full before attacking often produces better results than hacking repeatedly, which result in glancing blows against adversaries.
In later levels, tougher and more frequent enemies places greater emphasis on pushing forward and not getting bogged down in one-on-one battles that take up precious seconds that you really will need in dealing with the end-of-level bosses.
The one thing that really stood out here is the quality of pixel art, not to mention use of colour. There are plenty of good-looking arcade games, but The Atyanax has an aesthetic quite unlike anything else, with rich, pastel-shaded backdrops that look absolutely gorgeous; the background vistas in stage 3, On the Lake, are superb!
As with many games, The Astyanax is a tough nut to crack, but I think this quite possibly one of the hidden gems in Jaleco’s back catalogue, so do go check it out!
00:00 Attract mode
00:14 Stage 1: In the Forest
02:57 Stage 2: In the Cave
07:09 Stage 3: On the Lake
10:23 Stage 4: On the Lift
11:55 Stage 5: In the Castle
16:11 Stage 6