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RELEASE DATE (NA): November 1991 GENRE: Action/Simulation
// review by SoyBomb

Is this a video game sent from the Heavens?

Hello, everyone! Today, I'm going to talk about a game called ActRaiser for the SNES. It's about--
Just what do you think you're doing?
Whoa! An angel without pants! Cool!
I asked you a divine question: what do you think you're doing?
Well, I think I'm going to be discussing ActRaiser for the SNES. Good game, that is.
You dared to gaze upon ActRaiser without consulting me first?
I, uh... I didn't think I needed to!
And why not?
I finished the game, and at that point, I realized that I no longer needed your help. I felt as though I could live on my own without the assistance of a supernatural entity, though I suppose I could call on you if ever I need you. Isn't that what you were trying to teach me all along?
Well... um...
Look, why don't we review this game together? Would that satisfy you?
Hmmm... yes, yes, it would.

Fire, lightning, and an angel bum. It doesn't get any more exciting than this, folks.

Sounds good. Anyway, ActRaiser was developed by Quintet as their first major release. They were later responsible for other SNES games such as Illusion of Gaia, Soul Blazer, and Robotrek. ActRaiser follows the exploits of "The Master", who has awakened from a lengthy slumber in his Sky Palace after a defeat from Tanzra. When he finally rises, he discovers that humanity has mostly forgotten about him and that nobody prays to him in temples anymore. As well, Tanzra's henchmen have now inhabited the six different regions of the world and are terrorizing them by summoning demonic creatures. Now the people must rely once again on The Master to save them.

You know, you sounds awfully religious. You could easily replace "The Master" with "God," and "Tanzra" with "Satan"...

Shhh! You're not supposed to know that!
What? So it's true? They ARE supposed to represent God and Satan? Then why was it changed?
In the early 1990s, Nintendo of America kept a watchful eye on every product released for their console. They didn't take too kindly to "questionable" content, and that included any direct reference of religion, unless it was very minute in nature. So before Enix (the publisher) could successfully bring this game overseas, they had to change the characters' names.
They sure didn't mask it very well. Anyone with half a brain could tell you this is Christianity in digital form.
Ummm... let's move on, shall we?
Oh, very well. ActRaiser is actually two games in one: it's an action game, that's for certain, making sure that Tanzra's subjects are subdued. But it's also a simulation game, not unlike SimCity (though far easier to work with), giving you the ability to rebuild towns overwhelmed by monsters. Upon visiting each area of the game in your mobile sky palace, you immediately must rid the region (or "purify", as per the instruction manual) of the many monsters found within. Playing the role of The Master in warrior form, you'll tread through a platforming stage and defeat a final boss. Once you pass that, you are shifted into an overhead view of the area you're going to repopulate. Lastly, each area will inevitably suffer another monster-induced setback, and so a second action phase is required to permanently cleanse the town of fiendish reign.

The action sequences star you, The Master, as a sword-wielding combatant, making your way through numerous settings throughout the world. There's an infinitesimal delay between a button press and the swing of the sword (which is particularly annoying mid-jump), but once you get the timing down, you'll have little difficulty managing your character. As well, The Master can use magic spells that he acquires during the simulation parts of the game (typically via old scrolls found hidden in mountains or under big rocks and such). There is a limited number of times you can use each magic during the course of a stage -- a Magic Point system, if you will -- but as long as you save all your spells for the boss fight, you should be very much set. Every single "act" is unique, featuring its own set of enemies and backgrounds, meaning you won't be visiting the same style of area twice. One time, it'll be the inside of a volcano, the next, you'll be edging your way through a swamp. You never know what will come next!

As for the simulation aspect of ActRaiser...

Oh! Oh! Can I tell about this one? It's my favourite part!
Very well.
Great! The simulation part, starring me, the squeeky-cheeked little angel! Basically, using my superior abilities, we're going to have to take areas that have reverted back to their original stages and make them inhabitable again. That means guiding new citizens as to where they ought to build their houses and fields. Delegating construction responsibilities, that's the easy part. But my work doesn't stop there. I have to clear away all the obstacles on the ground -- marshy land, pain-in-the-knickers trees, stubborn rocks, you name it. Luckily, I have godly powers to help save the day!
You mean, "masterly" powers, right?
Oh yes, "masterly" powers, thank you. Summoning the power of the elements, I can easily cause lightning, rain, sunshine, wind, or even earthquakes to arise at my beckoning and clear off any unpleasant terrain, giving the land a glorious lustre and the people a place to build their homes and plug in their PlayStations. That oughta teach that foliage a lesson: don't stand in the way of an almighty being! But wait! There's more! Also staggered in each region are four different monster lairs that spawn those vile demons who plague us! Those monsters love to creep up on my thriving towns to destroy houses and viciously murder my population. Thank goodness for my trusty bow and arrow combo, which I can use to subdue those darn things while the townsfolk do my bidding. If you point the townsfolk in the direction of the lairs, they will seal them up, preventing any further infestations from down below. And if we're lucky, the pleased citizens might give us some... heh heh... REWARDS for our hard efforts that may aid us in our pursuit of divinity.

Never does the Master tire of swinging his sword at stuff.

How greedy you are! And put on some pants or a diaper or something. I'm tired of staring at your Panama Canal.
No can do, pal. I'm a free spirit! ...though there's no spirituality here, no way!
Sigh... anyway, Mr. Angel, do you believe that you've been portrayed accurately in ActRaiser?
Aside from that aspect which you're not supposed to know about, I'd say yes. You know, for a first-generation SNES title, the game is excellent. The graphics are well-crafted and heavily detailed, at least during the action sequences, from the lowliest enemy to the decadent scenery. Actually, I think The Master is lacking in detail a bit, something remedied in the sequel, ActRaiser 2. The simulation sections are not quite as extravagant, but there's charm in its simplicity, of course. But the music... oh, thank the Heavens! A very powerful soundtrack, it is, offering some of the most elegant orchestral pieces ever sprung from the SNES to date, ranging from lush and heartfelt elegies to powerful battle concertos! The songs were composed by Yuzo Koshiro, famous for a number of gaming soundtracks, including the Streets of Rage and Etrian Odyssey series. Though the theme for the staff credits sounds suspiciously like the 20th Century Fox theme...
So you'd recommend this game to people, even if you WEREN'T in it?
Of course I would, though the fact alone that I am present makes this an even sweeter deal. Dare I say it: no SNES collection should be without a copy of ActRaiser!
Alright, well, that's all the proof I need. Thanks for dropping by.
No problem. To be honest, I guess you didn't REALLY need me around... as we learned through ActRaiser's teachings, once you give people the tools to succeed, they no longer rely on you. That was a sad reality I encountered after my work was done. Such is the life of a deity. Well, so long...
Oh, before you go, I've wanted to ask you: what's your honest opinion about this game's sequel, ActRaiser 2?
Uh... gotta go! *flutters away*
Man, that guy sure can fly away quickly...

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