By Joseph Walter
Last time, we discussed the ripping and tearing of Doom Guy (who I still think has a great chance of appearing, likely accompanying the eventual Switch release of Doom Eternal), but today we're focusing on the hacking and slashing of Golden Axe's Gilius Thunderhead!
The most iconic character from SEGA's Golden Axe series, Gilius Thunderhead is a vengeful, axe-wielding dwarf who helped to save the realm of Yuria from the malevolent forces of Death Adder and Dark Guld.
Attesting to his aforementioned status as an icon, Gilius has already appeared in a multitude of other crossover games, so it seems that Super Smash Bros., the ultimate crossover, would be the next logical step for the horned-helmet-wearing warrior.
Essentially, Gilius would play identically to how he does in his home series, with the same walk-cycle, speed, sense of weight and surprisingly vertical jump. Translated into Ultimate terms, he'd be a heavier character (though not the heaviest) and somewhat slow. However, his attacks are quick and quite powerful, so don't underestimate him! Likewise, Gilius' high jump height and rapid ascent are fairly unexpected in their own right.
In the original Golden Axe, one of the most satisfying elements of the hack-and-slash combat was that you could stagger an enemy, smash their heads with the hilt of your weapon, and then hoist them over your head and toss them. In Gilius' Smash Bros. appearance, he's able to do the same, possessing the unique trait of having some of his combo attacks automatically transitioning into a grab. And make no mistake: tossing your enemy doesn't just hurt them, but it can potentially damage anyone who gets hit by this newly weaponized foe.
Likewise, Gilius' dodge roll possesses the unusual trait of actually being able to damage opponents, though it's quite rare. In the original Golden Axe, Gilius' "pinch move" was a roll that was intended to get players out of sticky situations where they were surrounded by enemies; at the end of the roll, Gilius would hoist up his axe, potentially knocking back the offending foes. This would be reflected in Ultimate, but to actually cause (the admittedly minimal) harm to an opponent requires precision and timing, so good luck with that.
Gilius' alternate colors/costumes pay homage to his hibernating series, including color schemes that reflect the other playable characters of Golden Axe I & II, Ax Battler and Tyris Flare. Additionally, there's a color scheme for the villainous Death Adder, and one that turns Gilius' axe into a golden variant, just like in the arcade.
Gilius's move set is extremely faithful to his abilities in the Golden Axe series, right down to the awkward jumps.
Gilius predominantly uses his battle ax, and the variety of moves he's demonstrated throughout his numerous in-game appearances, including his powerful ramming headbutt, the deadly downward strike, and even that weird axe-spin, backstab maneuver in Golden Axe II.
At the ends of certain combo attacks, he might even give foes a taste of his Lightning Magic by sending a jolt their way.
Infamously, Gilius' basic combos can autonomously transition into a grab, entrapping an opponent and bopping them on the head multiple times with the hilt of his axe before tossing them as a projectile.
Special: Magic Pots
Gilius' Side and Down Specials require Magic Pots to activate, and this resource is built by pressing the Special button.
When pushed, one of Golden Axe's infamous thieves appears next to Gilius, who then proceeds to loot the little nuisance's bag of treasure.
Gilius can store up to a total of four Magic Pots.
Side Special: Lightning Magic
Gilius can unleash a variety of four lightning-based magical attacks, the ferocity and types of which are determined by the amount of Magic Pots Gilius currently possesses.
The weakest variant sends lightning skirting across the floor, while the most powerful version has the potential to ensnare multiple players in bolts raining down from the skys, just like in the original Golden Axe.
Up Special: Goah
Goah, Gilius' giant partner from The Revenge of Death Adder, briefly poofs into existence beneath the stoic warrior, quickly propelling him into the air. Upon reaching the apex of his ascent, Gilius rapidly twirls his walking stick from Golden Axe III, using it as a makeshift helicopter that allows him slowly descend.
This is the only one of Gilius' Special Move that does not require a Magic Pot.
Down Special: Rock Magic
Activating your Down Special allows Gilius to cast his four versions of his powerful Rock Magic. Modified slightly from its effects in Golden Axe II, most varieties of Smash's Rock Magic result in defensive moves with minimal range that serve more to blast opponents away from you than to be used as projectiles.
A single Magic Pot yields a few measly pebbles acting something an anti-projectile shield, but a full-powered attack results in boulders tearing through the air at breakneck speed.
Alternatively, Gilius could also have a fundamentally different approach to his Special Move system, leaving room for alternate Side and Down Specials.
In this situation, the standard Special would function similarly to Samus' Charge Beam. In this case, holding down the button would gather Magic Pots and tapping it would unleash the attacks. Likewise, the different levels of Magic Pots would yield a variety of attacks using both lightning and rock attacks.
Side Special (Alternate): Thief
Gilius tosses one of Golden Axe's infamous thieves at his opponents, who latch onto them, relieve them of any items they're currently holding, and deal damage until they're tossed off (or run away on their own). Like other Side Specials, the properties of this attack can be altered depending on the intensity of the input. In other words, the thieves can be launched at close range or at distance with varying speeds.
Although they can be attacked and KO'd before reaching their intended (or not) target, they're much harder to hit than they appear, and will erratically zip about the arena, doing their best to dodge any interception attempts.
Down Special: Bizarrian Summon
Gilius calls forth either a Chicken-Leg or Dragon variant, which he can ride until they're KO'd. The Chicken-Leg has a powerful tail whip, while the Dragon can shoot a stream of fire or a fireball. While powerful, they're both easily KO'd (or stolen by other players.)
Gilius Thunderhead raises his arms like he would during a magical attack, but the screen turns black: the giant, character-select skeleton appears and holds Gilius in its palms, along with his friends Ax Battler and Tyris Flare.
Together, the three unleash their ultimate magical spells:
Gilius sends his opponents to Ax Battler with a bolt of lightning, who summons his earthshaking eruption from the ground, sending them skyward. After they land, Tyris Flare's dragon appears and delivers its apocalyptic fire breath, scorching the poor souls who dared stand against Yuria's greatest heroes.
Final Smash (Alternate): Thunderhead's Revenge
Although the "Level-9 Magic" Final Smash would probably be the best (and most representative) choice for the character and his franchise, Gilius' ultimate magic attack in The Revenge of Death Adder also fits the mold of a great Final Smash.
When activated, Goah appears once again, and Gilius jumps onto his back. Together, they raise their arms to unleash their extremely powerful and destructive magic.
The screen darkens, and a thick fog enshrouds the level. Descending from the blackened sky is a giant, malevolent skull that unleashes a cursed blast of fog from its mouth. Players caught in this poison cloud are subjected to constant damage and those that get the worst of the attack are briefly turned to stone, ceasing their movements and temporarily opening them up to a pummeling without consequence.
1. Gilius strikes his pose from the cover of the original Golden Axe.
2. Gilius cries out "For Alex!" (and a text bubble may even appear as he says it!)
3. Much like the Slime taunt for Dragon Quest's Hero, a Thief appears behind Gilius, who quickly disappears and giggles as Gilius looks in his direction.
Gilius enters the battlefield on the back of a Chicken-Leg (and rightfully so.)
As a series, Golden Axe is filled to the brim with iconic and memorable levels, so choosing just one to represent the series is an extremely difficult task. With that in mind, here are three options that would do the franchise justice:
1) Ride The Whirlwind:
Despite Golden Axe III's status as arguably the least popular entry in the classic series, and the fact that Gilius isn't even playable in it, it's hard to deny that the climactic "Ride the Whirlwind" level would make a truly epic Super Smash Bros. stage.
Taking place on the back of a giant eagle soaring over the ocean at tremendous speeds towards Damud Hellbringer's fortress, players would do battle across the eagle's spread wings.
Just like in the game, enemy grunts will occasionally be dropped into the arena, and you'll need to fend them off (along with the rest of your opponents!)
Some might argue that "the Fiend's Path" from Golden Axe I, which also takes place on the back of a giant eagle, might make a better choice due to its greater fame, but in terms of both visuals and gameplay, "Ride the Whirlwind" has it beat.
2) Turtle Village:
Probably the most iconic level in the series, Turtle Village seems like a normal town... until you realize that this village is literally on a giant turtle.
The main arena would have the players battling in the ravaged streets of the village, but going to either end of this large, rounded stage would reveal the titular turtle, who is busy swimming across the seas to destinations unknown.
This could be a fairly straightforward level, but it'd sure be pretty to look at.
Acting as a cross between Golden Axe plus the Smash stages "Castle Siege" and the infamous "PokéFloats," "Yuria" would give us the best of what the world of Golden Axe has to offer by showcasing its most beloved sights in a fast-paced, ever-changing level.
Starting in the "Wilderness" of Golden Axe I, players make their way to Turtle Village, which, after a brief warning, breaks away from the docks of the Wilderness and departs for the seas, stranding any stragglers.
After awhile, this seafaring voyage comes to an end, and players will need to quickly hop off the Turtle (or be abandoned) as we're treated to another brief auto-scrolling sequence which leads everyone to "the Fiend's Path," the aforementioned other giant eagle. The eagle takes off, leaving slow players behind, and the battle continues in the air. Finally, the eagle lands at Death Adder's castle where the players battle in the Throne Room as Death Adder himself watches on menacingly, cradling the sacred Golden Axe.
After a few minutes, Death Adder slams the mythic Golden Axe into the ground, and its magic sends players right back to the "Wilderness" where they started.
Golden Axe has some truly fantastic music (again, the PS2 remake does a great of showing that off, but fails to anything else of merit), so making a list of three was fairly difficult!
1. A remix of Golden Axe's bombastic opening level theme, "Wilderness." (Note: this is the PS2 ver.)
2. A remix of the treacherous "Fiend's Path." (Note: this is also the PS2 version.)
3. A remix of Golden Axe III's "A Voyage To Castle."
I really wanted to include a remix of the boss theme, "Battlefield," but "A Voyage to Castle" is just so catchy and rhythmic I couldn't say no. That said, if "Ride the Whirlwind" makes it in as a level, it seems absurd to not include that theme, too. Ugh, all of these should probably be included, honestly.
It's night in the middle of a dense forest. Wario, DeDeDe and K.Rool are sitting around a fire, dozing off to sleep, with their arms cradling their precious hoards: Wario and his money, DeDeDe and his food, and K.Rool with DK's bananas.
After they finally fall asleep, we hear a giggling from the tree line. Once they're sure it's safe, the little Golden Axe thieves appear and begin to steal villainous trio's loot!
As they each wake up, they find themselves in a frenzy trying to protect their collections, but too no avail. Wario screams out into the night.
Suddenly, the thieves all get knocked away effortlessly. The trio is shocked!
Confused, they all look off camera towards the cause of this ruckus, and their eyes widen.
The camera pans and... there stands Gilius Thunderhead as thunder rumbles in the distance!
Without warning a hoard of Death Adder's troops charge the camp. Gilius instinctively swings around to face them as Wario, DeDeDe and K.Rool huddle closely behind him. Gilius strikes his fierce fighting stance, the camera smash cuts to an extreme close-up of his eyes, and we see a spark of electricity.
"Gilius Thunderhead strikes gold!"
(... okay, that was honestly really awful but, alas, the pun center of my brain is currently failing me.)
I'd love to Thunderhead-butt people as Gilius, but what about you? Anything you'd change up? What characters, if any, do you want to see be included in Ultimate?
Let me know below!