Console: SNES, Mobile, Virtual Console
Release Date: December 16, 1990
Genre: Action, RPG, City-builder
I traveled back in time to 1990 to play a game from one of my favorite gaming companies; ActRaiser on the SNES from Enix. ActRaiser is an Action RPG that still in today’s world can keep you entertained for a few hours. The game first takes place at a castle in the sky where an angel asks your name then informs you of the travesty that has struck the land. The angel informs you that the world is overrun with monsters and the demon Tanzra is the main culprit causing all of the mayhem. You are basically god and the world must reestablish faith in you in order for the world to flourish like it did previously.
The main point of the game is to take the floating island over each town, destroy the monster that wreaks havoc on the land, and then reestablish the cities to their former glory. When the games action starts, a beam of light is sent from the heavens into a statue to bring this stone warrior to life. As the stone warrior you can jump, hack and slash, and cast a few magical spells once you receive them. As you traverse the side scrolling levels you will fight your way through smaller monsters, destroying all in your path along with smashing statues that contain items such as health, points, and extra lives. When you reach the end of every level there will be a boss to fight the first one you encounter is a Centaur. After defeating the centaur you will gain control of the angel. As the angel it is your responsibility to eliminate all the enemies that are attacking the town you are rebuilding. The monsters will continuously spawn at the monster lairs until you have sent the townsfolk to seal off each lair. Once every monster lair is sealed again a new larger monster appears. You will then head back to the sky palace to be sent down to the monsters lair and force him to relinquish the power he has over the land.
While playing as the angel and sending commands to the townsfolk, there are a few additional options you have. You can cast miracles on the land such as; lighting, rain, sun, wind, earthquake. For example the lightning miracle helps destroy monsters, shrubs that must be cleared in order to continue building the city to its previous glory, and even destroy buildings in your town so they can be rebuilt into larger more advanced structures. Periodically through the advancement of the town the townsfolk will wish you speak with their “Master” which is you and will give you offerings such as; wheat that helps the growth of the town, bombs and arrows which destroy monsters a little easier, magic scrolls that increase MP to cast spells, spells, and life sources which gives you an extra life.
As you establish the towns to their former glory you will gain XP which levels up your character and gives you additional health bars. The more health bars you have, the easier it is to run through the dungeons and defeat the bosses as the stone warrior. Along with the XP the townsfolk in some cities will give you magic spells as well which really help in destroying the bosses of each area. The spell I found to be the most helpful was Stardust, this causes starts to rain from the side of the screen and the possibility of causing a lot of damage to the bosses.
While ActRaiser is fun and can keep you entertained for a few hours I did have a few issues with the game. What bugged me the most was while in control of the stone warrior as you adventure through the dungeon areas and use your magic you would lose your MP which is normal, but if you die after reaching a check point the MP you had at the moment of the check point would not go back to its previous state. Which during bosses can be a problem because I would save up all my MP till the boss, but not always have full health I would casts spells and die but then lose all my MP I used until I defeated the boss. Also the break between hacking and slashing in dungeons was nice by being able to play as the angel and rebuilding the towns, but this became very monotonous after the second village. The creators also did not make it very clear that certain items needed to cure specific town of aliments are found in additional towns and the player needs to continue the game. This left me waiting in towns to find the cures for a few minutes casting every miracle I could think of an annoying me until I gave up and finally moved on to the next area.
Overall ActRaiser was a good game and had some nice ideas of how to keep the game interesting for the time period it was made in. The transition between hack and slash to constructing a village helps keep the players interest in the beginning but became tedious relatively quick. ActRaiser is simple and to the point which helps the player get through the game and not have it drag out. Not being able to have the MP replenish to the amount the player had at the time of establishing the check point does become annoying and makes the game challenging, but doesn’t make the game impossible. If you’re looking for a retro game to kill some time and give you a break from today’s games and open your eyes to realizing how far gaming has progressed in the last decade, ActRaiser will do just that.
ActRaiser has always been called a classic. Have you played this game?