bshirk's Actraiser (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) review

ActRaiser: For The God In You

Until about a year ago, I believed that I had played all the great titles the Super NES had to offer (excluding Japan-only titles like Ys V). Once I played obscure titles like Terranigma and Cybernator, that idea was turned on its head. I don't usually like being wrong, but I didn't mind in this case, because quality Super Nintendo titles make me feel like a kid again. Yesterday, I grew into a pint-sized individual once again after I downloaded a title called ActRaiser.

 
I had heard Jeremy Parish rave about ActRaiser on Retronauts, so I thought it'd be worth giving a spin. This little-known early SNES title was well-regarded by its small fan base for its innovative gameplay that was a hybrid of multiple genres, and for its amazing sound quality.

When my journey into ActRaiser commenced, I was amazed with what I saw. I began as an almighty god who was in charge of overseeing my world's progress. Of course humanity was weak, so I had to descend into the depths of my creation and slay demons who threatened the future of my people. Much like Jesus, I would descend to the Earth in human form--but my mission was different. Instead of promoting peace and love, I would participate in side-scrolling hack 'n' slash segments for the purpose of providing my people with demon shish kabobs.

These side-scrolling segments were simple, but quite enjoyable. I would wield a sword and magic that my (usually) helpless peons discovered as the game progressed. Hacking enemies in two was simple--it only involved a single button press, and magic was just as easy to cast. However, I had a limited magic meter (don't question my power unbeliever), so I would typically save spells for the end-of-level boss. These big ugly demons were nothing compared to my almighty powers, so I sent them back to the depths of Hell where they belonged.

As I jumped from platform to platform in each area, I noticed my beautiful creations. I raced through icy lands the Vikings wouldn't touch, braved sandstorms, and avoided dangerous pools of lava. These lands included numerous baddies and traps, but nothing a god like me couldn't handle. Sometimes, my controls felt a little stiff (hey, gods are overworked okay?), but I didn't mind, as I had the pleasure of listening to music that sounded as if it were orchestrated.

As if that weren't enough, once I was done slaying puny demons, I got to build civilizations and determine the fate of humanity. Before beginning city planning, I'd usually destroy all vegetation and environmental hazards with the powers of lighting and the Sun. I would also provide wind and rain for my people (some fool thought the rain was my tears). If I needed to change the topography, I'd send a deadly earthquake that would ravage the land (you thought your god was tough).

Once I was done destroying (ahem, I mean altering the environment) I would direct my people to build roads and houses. Pesky monsters would try to get in my way however, so I'd send my naked cherub servant to pelt them with arrows. These monsters would continue to respawn however, so this was only a temporary solution. Once my city had progressed far enough, I could construct buildings over monster lairs, so the demons could never return. After I'd laid waste to their hellish domains, I would then descend to Earth once again to ravage a final demon lair.

I hate to admit this, but even gods forget things sometimes. In the process of building my cities, my people would often "discover" new tools and intellectual pursuits. Certain peoples would develop music, others would cultivate herbs, and the first people I granted life to would develop bridge-building technology. I would later spread these techniques to other villages to solve problems or expand their operations. Of course, I could have developed these things myself, but I like making my people do my work for me.

As a god, I would often laugh at the pathetic "problems" my creation faced. They would often approach me by saying, "Master, there is something unexpected we have to tell you." I would have liked to respond by saying, "Fools, does thy God not know everything? What is unexpected to thee, is known to me." But, instead, I would listen to their petty grievances and accept offerings.

Even gods have things they like and dislike, so I appreciated having such precise control over my peoples. I also enjoyed platforming and gaining levels, even if my controls were a little stiff. However, I disapproved of the occasionally random task (such as having to alter an island with an earthquake). Still, I rarely found myself lost; not because of the helpful tutorials, but because I know everything.

Your lord and master did have one major complaint with this game known as ActRaiser. The final boss sequence was brutal, even for an omnipotent being such as myself. I didn't appreciate having to fight six bosses in a row, then a two form final boss with only three lives and a limited quantity of magic. I'm a god, so why should I be limited when it comes to the magic I can cast? And why were these defeated demons reborn? These questions matter not however, because I managed to slay the demon lord.

Overall, I enjoyed meddling in the affairs of my creation. I appreciated the variety of my world--the platforming, RPG, and simulation elements. And whoever composed that fabulous soundtrack with my invention called "music" deserves an award. It's too bad that my sequel is apparently mediocre, because I'd love to spend more time in my world. 
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