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StoryThere is some discussion as to when this entry takes place in the Actraiser time line. The opening intro sequence seems to be a retelling of the very end of the original Actraiser, using the newer character sprite for The Master but the older sprite for series antagonist Tanzra. This would place Actraiser 2 chronologicaly after the first game.
As the game opens, your servant angels inform you that the evil Tanzra has been awoken by his evil minions, who have manifested as representations of the classical seven deadly sins: Greed, Sloth, Envy, Wrath, Pride, Lust and Gluttony. These minions have overtaken the land and it is your duty to rid the world of this evil yet again.
During the game's end credits, it is declared that "The Master will live forever", followed by an image of the statue of The Master slowly eroding over time. The statue's sword and right wing fall off, suggesting the growth of civilization and the increase of mankind's self-sufficiency. This reflects the ending of the original ActRaiser, where the servant speculates that someday the world may be so independent that it will forget about the Master.
GameplayWhile the first Actraiser split levels into sim-like stages and pure Rastan style action stages, Actraiser 2 forgoes the sim elements for pure action. The overworld is still present for you to get from land to land with your helper angel returning to breif you on the situation for each town (This setup would be seen in much later but in a very similar fashion in Valkery Profile)
Once on land, God would fight his way through the possesed and cursed towns eventually defeting the minnion controlling it, thus returning it back to normal.
While the game is stil a traditional side scrolling action title, two key changes were made. One was the addition of a shield for a slightly more tactical approach similar to Zelda 2. The other addition was that of wings which could be used to reach new heights, glide over distances and put the player in position to do devestating arial moves.
Allusions to Other MediaThere are many elements in the game which act as allusions to classical literature, myth and religion. Each of the bosses, for example, are a manifestation of the seven deadly sins.
Some of the stages in the game are meant to be ironic regarding the blighting nature of Tanzra's demons. The townsmen in the city of Leon are sent to the underground prison of Gratis for not paying their taxes by a newly appointed king named Kolunikus who is afflicted by Greed. The final staged level of the game pits the player against a mechanically engineered god in the city of Humbleton, a battle of Pride (a satire on the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel).
After the player slays the first six deadly sins, the Tower Of Babel appears in which you fight the final sin, Pride. You then descend into Hell where you again fight the seven sins as well as Tanzra himself, a beast frozen waist-deep in a lake of ice (just as Satan was in the Inferno in The Divine Comedy).
ReceptionThe game sold about 180,000 copies worldwide, with 40,000 copies sold in Japan and Europe respectively and 100,000 sold in the USA.