'ActRaiser' on the SNES

A Retro Review

The year was 1991. The SNES had only recently been released in North America. I had been playing the NES for five years. My uncle bought the SNES, and with it, the only game he purchased was ActRaiser.

I had seen the SNES and Sega commercials. The bit wars were in full swing, but nobody I knew cared that “Sega does what Nintendon’t.” Sega games looked like crap, but ActRaiser looked fan-freaking-tastic.

It was a side scrolling platformer. It was a sim game. The controls were more fluid than Castlevania 3, which, okay, wasn’t saying much, but it looked better than Ninja Gaiden! This game was awesome sauce!

So, you’re God. An angel follows your orders. Sometimes, you have to descend from heaven to embody a statue, and you fight enemies as an avatar.

Wait, wait, wait… did you create those very enemies? From where did those monsters and demons come if not you...?

Never mind, I’m getting too theological. Is that word? Microsoft Word didn’t flag it, so… moving on.

ActRaiser was released by Enix in North America around the same time as the SNES, but sadly, not a lot of people played it when comparing it to Super Mario World, A Link to the Past, or Super Metroid—games made popular by the SNES and SNES fans. Nevertheless, it was a masterpiece; it was so good that it went on to have a direct sequel and other games, which somehow followed the story line, games like Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia.

I’m veering off topic.

The basics are fairly simple; you descend from heaven into an avatar, fight through a side scrolling platform stage with sword and magic, kill monsters, defeat a boss, and then you control an angel, which helps you build a city and guide your people. You build that city according to the people’s wishes, so that they may flourish without your aid, but every country, or city, or whatever, has a secondary stage.

After your people begin to flourish, evil rears its head again, and so you descend again from heaven, made more powerful by your worshipers, to defeat a second stage boss. It might be a centaur, or a minotaur, or an elephantaur!

Okay, elephentaur is a joke, but there are classic monsters like the chimera and a werewolf.

Furthermore, after you defeat both bosses for each city, you often need to accept offerings from your people to help the next city flourish. Sometimes, you need to accept the offerings from a later city in order to fully free the people from a previous city, like when the people from Kasandora get the plague; you gotta' get the herb from a city later in the story line.

Well, story line is a strong word. There’s not much in the way of the story; it’s just about guiding people and fighting monsters, but that’s what’s so great about ActRaiser. It’s simple yet elegant.

I really have no complaints. It’s pretty close to a perfect game. The graphics and animation are superb and have aged really well. The controls are great. The music is phenomenal, if only slightly varied, and there’s plenty of action; even when you’re just building the cities, you still have to control the angel and kill the monsters that try to kill your people or destroy their homes, but you can lead those people to “seal the monster’s lair”, and that can lead to an advance in civilization, or your people might just find a new offering for you, God.

I don’t know, I mean, I pop this sucker into my SNES about once a year and play all the way through. I guess, if I had a complaint, it’s that it’s a fairly short game. Especially once you know what to do, you can beat it in about 10 hours, but coming off the NES, with games like Rygar, which you can beat in about 3 hours, 10 hours makes for a long game!

I’d definitely like to see a new game in the series, but I have little faith in Nintendo now. I’ll always support the company, but they’ve gone off the rails with their consoles, which is just staggering to the mind.

I’ve complained about it before; this new gen gaming is just beyond me. Maybe, I’m an old fart, and liking classic games is the equivalent of that old guy that says Bon Jovi is real music, and this new rock band—Highly Suspect—is just noise, but the fact remains; I don’t know for whom they’re making games today!

Games are supposed to be entertaining, fantastical; they’re supposed to help you rot your brain, but only for a few hours at a time. I mean, in my day, I came home from school, ate, showered, did my homework, and then only had about two hours to waste before bed time. Sure, weekends were a free for all, but even then, I didn’t spend 14 hours trying to increase my destruction skill.

Yeah, that’s a Skyrim reference, and that shit came out in 2011!

What was I bitching about?

Oh yeah, ActRaiser is a great game, and I miss side scrollers and platformers. Sometimes, a game should just be game and not try to emulate reality. I mean, kids like cartoons, right? That shit’s not trying to emulate reality, and video games are supposed to be for kids, right? So why the hell are they all trying to emulate what it’s like to really to be in WWII?

Alright, rant over! Play ActRaiser. It’s awesome. I give it an A+. Thanks for reading.

P.S. Bon Jovi sucks.

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'ActRaiser' on the SNES
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