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A fine blend of an action side-scroller & Populous-like god game rolled into one game. ~Honorabili
In ActRaiser, you take the role of a sleeping god which has just woken up after thousands of years to find that in your absence the whole world has gone to utter crap.
There are multiple stages (countries) in the game and the first stage consists of you manifesting an avatar in an action side-scroller game to fight your way through some monsters, kill a boss and liberate the land. After doing that you enter a god-mode game similar to Populous where you control a little angel cherub and you fight cute monsters and help guide the civilization level of the people of that country. Some plot device happens and then you must fight the final boss in order to free that land from monsters completely.
Once you’ve done that, so long as you met all the other objectives regarding you gifting people items/technology, that country will grow to its max population/civilization level. The more population you have in a country, the more followers you have, giving you the ability to level up (you only level up that way, not by killing stuff).
The game was written by Quintet, published by Enix (Square Enix) in 1991. There is a sequel that sucks, so just stick to the original. The game originally came out on the Super Nintendo, in 2004 released as a game for mobile phones, and in 2007 re-released on the Wii.
Fun Factor, Replayability, & My History With This Game:
I’ve played this game over 30 times since the early 90s. Although the game is rather simple, it has its own style and I play it at the bare minimum once or twice a year. It only takes me about 2-3 hours to play and beat the entire game. I keep coming back because I consider it a classic.
The action side-scrolling reminds me of a simpler Castlevania or Lionheart kind of game. The god mode game is like Populous except that it’s simpler but it’s fun watching terrain blow up and having your followers find stuff around the map.
After years of playing this I give Fun Factor a score of 7 out of 10. If you are playing it fresh, you’d probably say it’s worth an 8 out of 10. Replayability for me gets a score of 6 out of 10 as well.
Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:
Overall, the game is rather easy.
It could be that I’ve played it too many times and I know all the spots that enemies in the action game will attack from as well the attack patterns of all the bosses but even when I first played the game in the early 90s, the game was not too challenging. You can ignore most enemies in the action levels and there’s only really one challenging boss, the Dragon. Two of the other bosses are not so much hard but more annoying and the strategy to beat them is simple.
The god game part is super easy so long as you listen to what your followers want and shoot mainly the bats and white dragons they auto build everything themselves.
Difficulty gets a score of 3 out of 10. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 3 out of 10 as well because some parts get tougher slightly but the overall difficulty is the same throughout most of the game.
Most people will now be playing this game on ZSNES, the SNES emulator, probably playing a ROM they downloaded off the internet. If that’s the case the game is then free, giving Value a score of 10 out of 10.
The sounds are rather simple in this game but they are satisfactory. For me, the best sounds come in the god mode when you kill monsters and blow up their lairs. For some reason the sound that happens when your population expands has stuck to my head all these years. Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.
The music for this game is really nice and although it’s not as popular as let’s say the music of the Final Fantasy games, it still does get remixed quite a bit. If you want to check out some of the remixes, click here to download some at ocremix. The best songs are the main action stage song that happens in the first levels, god mode town song, and the song that gets played when one of your followers invents “music”. Overall, I give the Music a score of 8 out of 10.
On the original SNES, I’ve never seen this game crash. I’ve never seen the emulated version crash either. Nothing to complain about here. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.
The controls are pretty straight forward. The arrow keys/thumbpad move you in the direction you want. In action mode, one button makes you attack with the sword, another jumps, another detonates your magic attack. In god game mode, one button fires the cherub’s arrow while the other brings up the god powers interface screen. The only real problem I have with the gameplay and controls is that your avatar in action side-scroller mode can’t block. A lot of the gameplay comes down to just sheer chopping and jumping out of the way. The game I find easy, so it’s just me complaining, really. Controls get a score of 8 out of 10.
Graphics & Performance:
ActRaiser was well coded and both in the original and emulated version you have no problems with the game engine not being able to catch up to the action. The performance is fluid. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.
Since there are different modes to this game, let’s talk about the graphics for each one. The action sequence has really nice graphics for a 1991 action side-scroller. In the god-mode, the graphics look cute, even for the monsters as well as the little flying cherub that kills stuff for you. For 1991, this game gets a Graphics score of 9 out of 10.
ActRaiser is a classic game for the SNES. If you are a fan of side-scrollers, you should check it out. If you also like games like Populous, although it’s very dumbed down in ActRaiser, you should also check it out. Overall, if you consider yourself a loyal SNES player, you should play this game as people who grew up playing the SNES are all very fond of this game.