“This project was my personal nexus of nightmare hours, inept management, industry realisations and heroics achieved with a small team under unreasonable conditions, so it’s an odd feeling to see it surface eight years later without context, credits and with a joke title sequence,” Dawson explained.
The prototype’s development was apparently mired by problems and criticism from upper management.
woke up to the surprising news that Sega is releasing the Golden Axe prototype I coded in 2012 under crunch conditions
At least I’m not alone – this appears to be a surprise to everyone I know who actually worked on it https://t.co/MRmuSFgMlA
— Tim Dawson (@ironicaccount) October 15, 2020
The launch of Golden Axed has surprised some of the prototype’s original developers, who worked on the project almost a decade ago and were not informed by Sega that it would be making a return.
Dawson mentioned that he was working on the game for “14-hour days” amid “7 day work weeks.” and called Sega “parasites” for the tongue-in-cheek description of the game originally featured on its Steam store page, which read as follows: “Golden Axed may be janky, may be buggy, may be an artifact of its time, but it offers a unique glimpse into the prospect of a project that could have been.”
Later, Dawson added to his comments, saying “If you’re excited to play an old prototype, that’s fine! Bunch of people including me worked hard on it. And obviously Sega owns it and any work I did, it’s just a bit weird they’re saying they reached out to the original team.”
IGN reached out to Sega for comment on this story, who provided the following response:
“SEGA Europe reached out to former members of the Golden Axe: Reborn dev team to produce this prototype of the game for Steam as part of our 60th Anniversary celebrations. We wanted to bring the work of the developers at the time to light and celebrate it as a part of our history. Something we didn’t get the chance to do first time around. We certainly didn’t mean to dredge up painful memories for Mr. Dawson and his former colleagues or appear disrespectful. We’ve removed the line from the Steam copy that could have been taken as a slur on the development and would like to reassure everyone that it was intended as a comment on the build we had ported to PC, not the quality of the original work. We’re hoping lots of fans play the prototype and can appreciate the work he and his colleagues put into this developing this prototype.”
Golden Axed is part of Sega’s 60th Anniversary Steam Celebration, which also includes a Streets of Rage/Yakuza mash-up game and a retro battle tank game based on Company of Heroes.
Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.