Game of the Month October, 2002:

System: SNES Developer: Enix/Quintet
"Game of the Month" for October is Enix's legendary "ActRaiser" for the Super NES. ActRaiser was one of the first games ever released for the SNES and it still remains one of my favorites even today. You take on the role of the Master, a god who fought the evil Tanzra years ago, but was defeated and fell into a deep sleep. Now you have been awakened by your loyal servant, the Angel, and you must fight to take back your world from Tanzra's evil minions. ActRaiser's gameplay is split into two unique parts. Each world consists of two "acts", which are action sidescrolling sequences in the vein of Castlevania. In-between is a simulation sequence that is like a watered-down version of SimCity.

Walk like an Egyptian!

Town under construction, dude! During the simulation scenes, you will direct a town's growth, much like in other sim games, but there is a bit of action involved, too. Monsters constantly attack the town, and you must use the Angel's arrows to defeat them, lest they'll destroy buildings and people, making it difficult for you to progress. You will use the power of weather, such as lightning, wind, rain, and sun, to help clear the land of obstacles that hinder your town's growth. When your population grows to a certain amount, you get a level-up. This increases your hit points in the action sequences, thus making them easier to complete. You will also find a number of items in the simulation scenes that will help you in the action scenes, such as magic spells, extra magic points, and extra lives. Finally, most of the game's story unfolds and plays itself out in these scenes, which keeps the game interesting from start to end.

The action sequences in ActRaiser feature some of the best graphics and effects that I've seen on the system. Although the animation is a bit stiff, the backgrounds are colorful, and the enemies bright and bold (especially the bosses). The thundering musical score, done by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro, is easily one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time. The action is fast and fun, however, it's a bit on the easy side. I think ActRaiser is a great game, but it's ease of difficulty keeps it from being a true masterpiece. Even so, it's a wonderful game that I never, ever get bored with. Its unique style of play is enough to keep it fun and interesting. There is also a hidden "Professional" mode, in which you only play the action scenes (without simulation in-between). You cannot use magic in this mode, there are no continues, and the enemies are a bit tougher. I've completely mastered this mode, too, although it did challenge me for a little while.

The lion is NOT sleeping tonight!

Even if you've never liked a sim game before, I recommend giving ActRaiser a try. Be aware that it's not a true RPG and the action sequences won't exactly push your skills to the limit, but it's a fun, fast, and fantastic adventure while it lasts.

ActRaiser Links

  • My ActRaiser Review - A complete review of this fantastic game.
  • My ActRaiser Sprite Shrine - Sprites of all the game's enemies, bosses, items, and more.


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